|Transcript of SCMA's remarks at media session
Following is the transcript of remarks made by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Raymond Tam, at a media session before attending the Legislative Council Finance Committee meeting this afternoon (January 20):
Reporter: Isn't it exactly because the proposed increased amount (of the remuneration of politically appointed officials) is rather unreasonable, and that some of the lawmakers may think the accountability system hasn’t been working ever since it has been adopted, so that's why they oppose it and filibuster. What's your response?
Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: As I have explained earlier, both outside and inside this chamber, the proposed increase of 12.4 per cent is actually much lower than the increase in Consumer Price Index (C) over the past 14 years. you should also consider the fact that in the past 14 years, since the commencement of the Political Appointment System, no adjustment has ever been made to the remuneration package for Principal Officials as well. If you take an average rate, it is actually less than 1 percentage point each year. And, if you look at it from this angle, it is actually quite moderate, so to speak.
On the implementation of the Political Appointment System, I am sure that you are aware of the background leading to the establishment of such a system. In the old days, when I was still a civil servant, there had been some events like "短樁事件" (the short piling incident) or the new airport inquiry, and actually during that time, the community had a strong view that the old system, that is, each bureau or department headed by senior civil servants, was no longer fitted for the increasing expectation of the general public for better accountability of the head of bureau or head of department. Therefore, the Government then had decided to introduce this new system. I personally have been both a civil servant and a political appointee. I can speak from my personal experience that having such a system is much better than the old days. As with many other systems in the world, the system can always be improved. We have actually included some new elements, including the disciplinary actions that the Chief Executive can consider to take on political appointees as mentioned in the new code of conduct that we have introduced for this term. All in all, if members of LegCo (the Legislative Council) have any constructive comments or suggestions on how to better improve the system, they are more than welcome to raise it and I am sure that I would pass them on to my successor in the next-term Government for consideration.
Reporter: Mr Tam, a question on the Chief Executive-elect office, can you explain in English what would be the difference between the old amount and the new amount? Where exactly will be the office? If there is another filibuster on this proposal, would it affect the new CE taking office or preparing for taking office?
Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: Five years ago, the proposed budget was around slightly more than 8 million Hong Kong dollars. This time is something like slightly more than 39 million Hong Kong dollars. The bulk of the difference, around three quarters' increase, is actually due to the fact that we have to search for a commercial office premises to house a Chief Executive-elect (CE-elect) office. Because of the unavailability of any government premises in the Central and Admiralty areas, and actually the Director of Administration would also have to consider the size, availability, transportation requirement as well as security requirement for such a CE-elect office, it has come to a conclusion that the selected office in Garden Road is the best and is also fitted and appropriate for use by the CE-elect office. The Director of Administration would include that in the Budget, to be announced next month. So it would go through, so to speak, the estimate route.
(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)
Ends/Friday, January 20, 2017
Issued at HKT 18:51