Following is a question by Hon Albert Ho and a written reply by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Raymond Tam, in the Legislative Council today (February 24):
In his election manifesto, the Chief Executive (CE) made the pledges that "(w)e will adopt measures to progressively reduce the proportion of accrued benefits attributed to employer's contribution in the M(andatory) P(rovident) F(und) account that can be applied by the employer to offset long-service or severance payments" and "(a) special committee...will be set up to follow up on the study on standard working hours conducted by the current administration. This committee will examine issues relating to...legislative proposals on standard working hours". When CE attended a televised panel discussion forum on the 13th of last month, he was queried by the host that it had been more than three years since his assumption of office but he had not yet honoured the two pledges. CE responded that the whole Government had devoted much efforts in promoting constitutional development over the past year or so. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the details of the efforts devoted by the politically appointed officials in various policy bureaux (excluding the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau) to promoting constitutional development over the past year or so;
(2) of the number of policy initiatives the implementation of which was affected by the work of the Government to promote constitutional development, and the extent to which such initiatives were affected; and
(3) whether it has established a system for determining (i) the relative priorities of various policies and (ii) the efforts to be devoted by various policy bureaux to implementing them, so as to avoid focusing only on certain policies while neglecting others; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
In consultation with relevant departments, the consolidated reply to the question raised by the Hon Albert Ho is as follows.
It is an important policy initiative of the current term Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government to take forward the attainment of selecting the Chief Executive (CE) by universal suffrage strictly in accordance with the Basic Law and relevant Interpretation and Decisions of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress. In this connection, the HKSAR Government formally launched the public consultation on constitutional development in the fourth quarter of 2013 and strived to take forward the "Five-step Process" of constitutional development. The entire team of Politically Appointed Officials, under the coordination of the Task Force on Constitutional Development (Task Force) headed by the Chief Secretary for Administration, assisted in taking forward constitutional development in different fields and areas of work. During the two public consultation periods between December 2013 and May 2014, and between January and March 2015, all Secretaries of Department and Directors of Bureau spared no efforts in reaching out to different sectors of the community and relevant bodies and stakeholders of the industries to listen to their views, so as to assist the Task Force in conducting the consultation in order to forge the greatest consensus among different sectors of the community.
Subsequently, on June 2, 2015 the HKSAR Government put forward to the Legislative Council (LegCo) proposals for selecting the CE by universal suffrage which are constitutionally in order, lawful, reasonable and rational, with a view to obtaining support from a two-thirds majority of all Members of the LegCo, thereby completing the Third Step of the Five-step Process of constitutional development. Regrettably, the proposals were vetoed at the LegCo meeting on June 18, 2015 by more than one-third of all Members of the LegCo (i.e., 28 Members). After the veto of the proposals for selecting the CE by universal suffrage, the HKSAR Government has made clear that the current term Government would focus on handling economic development and livelihood issues.
The progress or implementation timetable for different policies under their respective Secretaries of Department and Directors of Bureau depends on various factors. The HKSAR Government will, as always, continue to pay close attention to the various needs of different sectors of the community; and, under the leadership of the CE and at appropriate junctures, launch different policies that are beneficial to the economy, the livelihood, and the social development of Hong Kong.
Ends/Wednesday, February 24, 2016
Issued at HKT 15:51