Following is a question by the Hon Emily Lau and a written reply by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Raymond Tam, in the Legislative Council today (December 16):
The Chief Executive (CE) of the last term announced on February 26, 2012 the establishment of the Independent Review Committee for the Prevention and Handling of Potential Conflicts of Interests (the Committee), chaired by the retired Chief Justice of the Court of Final Appeal. The Committee was responsible for reviewing the regulatory systems for the prevention of conflicts of interests concerning CE, Non-Official Members of the Executive Council (ExCo), and Officials under the Political Appointment System (politically appointed officials or PAOs). The Committee submitted its report on May 31, 2012, putting forward 36 recommendations. In reply to my question on November 26 last year, the authorities indicated that they had implemented more than half of the recommendations of the Report. In this connection, will the Executive Authorities inform this Council:
(1) as the aforesaid recommendations put forward by the Committee include the following: (i) the PAO Register of Gifts should be renamed the PAO Register of Advantages and should cover the relevant advantages received by a PAO with their estimated values indicated, and (ii) the CE Register of Advantages, the PAOs' Registers of Advantages, and ExCo Members' declarations of gifts and sponsorships should be made accessible on the relevant web sites, in so far as they are not at present, whether the Government has already implemented these two recommendations; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and
(2) of the other recommendations of the Committee which have yet to be implemented by the Government, and the reasons why such recommendations have yet to be implemented?
In consultation with the relevant departments, I am authorised to respond to the question raised by Hon Lau as follows:
The Independent Review Committee for the Prevention and Handling of Potential Conflicts of Interests (IRC) submitted its report (the Report) on May 31, 2012, putting forward a total of 36 recommendations. When the Report was released, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government expressed on the same day that it agreed in principle with the recommendations in the Report and would consider how to follow up and implement the recommendations.
The HKSAR Government has implemented more than half of the recommendations of the Report, including the revisions to the Code for Officials Under the Political Appointment System (the Code) to formulate regulations on the handling of potential conflicts of interests by politically appointed officials (PAOs), and their acceptance of advantages and entertainment; and the formulation of guidelines on the relevant issues.
Information related to gifts presented to and sponsorships received by the Chief Executive (CE) has been uploaded to the website of the CE's Office. Executive Council (ExCo) Members should also declare the acceptance of sponsorship and gifts according to the declaration system, and the declarations will be uploaded to the website of the ExCo as well. For the recommendations on the Register of Advantages of the CE and PAOs etc., the HKSAR Government will follow up as appropriate.
For the recommendation that the Code and declaration system applicable to the ExCo Members should be applicable to the CE as a matter of policy, the CE has voluntarily observed the provisions in the Code and the declaration system applicable to the ExCo Members to declare his financial and other interests. The open part of his declaration has been uploaded to the website of the CE's Office and the ExCo for public inspection.
As the recommendations on the revisions to the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance may have implications on the provisions about the political structure of the HKSAR in the Basic Law and the constitutional status of the CE in the HKSAR prescribed in the Basic Law, the relevant constitutional and legal requirements as well as operational issues should be studied in a holistic manner. Based on the above principles, the HKSAR Government is studying the relevant issues comprehensively in accordance with the constitutional framework set out in the Basic Law and the current legal requirements. Upon the completion of the study, we will initiate the legislative procedure at the appropriate juncture.
For the recommendation to review the control regime for post-office outside work of PAOs, the HKSAR Government will continue to accumulate relevant operational experience, and will consider enhancements to the system at an appropriate juncture.
Ends/Wednesday, December 16, 2015
Issued at HKT 16:30