Initial approval for C.Y.'s new posts
Incoming chief executive Leung Chun-ying's proposal to restructure the government has cleared its first major hurdle in the Legislative Council, with a subcommittee approving the creation of 57 posts.
After yesterday's eight-hour marathon meeting, which followed an adjournment last Wednesday, the establishment subcommittee decided to recommend to the finance committee that the proposed posts be added, incurring net additional annual staffing costs of HK$62.4 million to HK$63.2 million.
With the backing of Beijing loyalist lawmakers, the proposal was passed by nine votes to two last night.
The Democratic Party yesterday delayed its plan to raise 21 motions in the establishment subcommittee meeting, with Democrat Cheung Man-kwong vowing that they would instead be proposed in Friday's finance committee meeting.
This followed a warning from People Power lawmakers that they will move more than 900 motions in the finance committee meeting.
There are still doubts as to whether Legco will pass the restructuring plans before Leung's administration takes office on July 1. For that to happen, a resolution needs tabling to a full meeting of Legco on June 20.
But the finance committee's chairwoman, Democrat Emily Lau Wai-hing, said if scrutiny of Leung's plans was not completed during its 10-hour meeting scheduled for Friday and Saturday, discussion would normally be adjourned until the following Friday, June 22.
At yesterday's subcommittee meeting, Leung's top aide, Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun, maintained that there was no plan to separate the funding request for certain posts from the rest of the restructuring proposal. That means lawmakers will probably have to endorse or reject the plans as a whole when the finance committee meets on Friday.
Law admitted that despite the proposed expansion of the political appointee team, she would not rule out the possibility that civil servants may have to help appointees lobby lawmakers.
'You have requested the hiring of many more people, including deputies [to the chief secretary and financial secretary], and political assistants as you said there was a lot of political work to do,' said subcommittee chairwoman Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee, of the Civic Party. 'But if it turned out that [political work] would [still] fall on the shoulders of civil servants, I'm afraid many lawmakers would not be satisfied.'
Cheung urged Leung's office to disclose the political affiliation and the job referees of the selected political appointees so lawmakers could assess whether it 'recruited talented people based on their essays or their ties' with Leung or certain groups.
Last month, Leung's office appealed for applicants interested in the undersecretary and political assistant posts to send in a curriculum vitae and a short essay on their views on the city's future development.
Asked whether permanent Hong Kong residency was a requirement for undersecretaries and political assistants under Leung's administration, Law, who is on the five-member selection committee to screen applicants, agreed it was.
She admitted that this fact was not stated in its press release on May 17.
She sidestepped questions as to whether this fact had been inadvertently left out, saying the selection committee would tell the shortlisted candidates about it in the interviews.