|Government's response to comments on constitutional development and Political Appointment System
In response to the comments by Legislative Councillor Lee Cheuk-yan in RTHK's "Letter to Hong Kong" broadcast earlier today (June 29), a Government spokesman issued the following statement:
“The third-term HKSAR Government (SARG) has made substantive progress in rolling forward democracy by attaining the timetable for implementing universal suffrage for the Chief Executive (CE) in 2017 and for the Legislative Council (LegCo) in 2020. The expansion of the Political Appointment System will complement and pave the way for implementation of universal suffrage for the CE. More avenues are now available to those with political party, professional, academic, media and other backgrounds to take up political appointments to serve the public. More political talent will come forth within the next decade.
“On constitutional development, the third-term SARG, led by CE Donald Tsang, has taken a position more advanced than that adopted in any previous term of Government. The Government issued the Green Paper on Constitutional Development only 11 days after inauguration last July. This was the first time in Hong Kong’s history that the public had been consulted on the models, roadmap and timetable for implementing universal suffrage.
“Having considered the CE's report, the National People's Congress Standing Committee adopted the decision last year which made clear the universal suffrage timetable. Following the Standing Committee's decision, an implementation roadmap has been outlined to complement the universal suffrage timetable.
“Between 2008 and 2012, we should endeavour to roll forward Hong Kong's electoral methods to a mid-way point. On this front, the task group on constitutional development under the Commission on Strategic Development has just concluded discussions on the two electoral methods for 2012. The SARG will decide, in the fourth quarter of this year, when to consult the public on the CE and LegCo electoral methods for 2012. The public consultation will be undertaken as soon as possible.
“Between 2012 and 2017, the fourth-term SARG and the fifth-term LegCo should address together the method for implementing universal suffrage for the CE. The CE taking office in 2017 will have to work with the LegCo returned in 2016 and come up with proposals to attain universal suffrage for the LegCo in 2020. This CE, returned by universal suffrage, will have broad public support to lead the Hong Kong community to resolve this issue.
“Now that the universal suffrage timetable has been set, we believe that, in the years to come, this will motivate different political parties and independent members in the LegCo, as well as different sectors within the community, to work together with the SARG towards securing consensus for implementing universal suffrage for the CE in 2017 and for LegCo in 2020.
“Regarding the comments on the Political Appointment System, all the Under Secretaries and Political Assistants have been appointed in accordance with the approval given by LegCo in December 2007. They have made public whether they have the right of abode in any foreign country. They have also announced, through the Government, their respective remuneration. On the part of the Government, we have made public the appointment process, the appointment criteria, and the criteria for determining remuneration for each appointee. The Government has set out the information in writing to the LegCo Panel on Constitutional Affairs. There is sufficient transparency about the process.
“The appointment of Under Secretaries and Political Assistants has gone through a vigorous process involving collective decisions. The appointments were made according to the principle of meritocracy. All contractual remuneration packages offered are consistent with that approved by the Finance Committee of the LegCo in December 2007.
“After the LegCo approved the creation of the Under Secretary and Political Assistant positions, the Government indicated immediately afterwards that all interested parties could put forward their nominations or make self-nominations. The interviewing panels met on many occasions to interview the candidates with the participation of the relevant Secretaries of Department and Directors of Bureau. The interviewing panels made assessments of individual candidates and presented their assessments to the CE-chaired Appointment Committee (AC) for consideration.
“As the Government indicated in the LegCo meeting held on June 26, the Government will take the following measures when appointing Under Secretaries and Political Assistants in future :
(1) When announcing the appointments, the Government will, subject to the consent of the newly-appointed Under Secretaries and Political Assistants, also make public whether they have the right of abode in any foreign country.
(2) As to whether any Under Secretary or Political Assistant with foreign right of abode decides to renounce such a right, this is a personal decision which the Government will continue to respect.
(3) The Government will make clear to any newly-appointed Under Secretary or Political Assistant that their personal remuneration will be disclosed when their appointment is announced.
(4) The AC will consider offering starting salaries below the mid-point of the respective scales for any newly-appointed Under Secretary or Political Assistant who has less working experience than those already recruited.
(5) When announcing the appointments, the Government will arrange for the appointees to meet with the media, so that the public will have the opportunity to know them better.
“Finally, as the CE stated in addressing LegCo on June 26, the Administration looks forward to working closely together with LegCo on measures concerning livelihood.”
Ends/Sunday, June 29, 2008