Successor in SAR free to end tradition
By GREN MANUEL
MR Patten's successor can scrap the whole annual ritual of a policy speech to the Legislative Council.
If he or she wants, they can change the date, deliver it on television, give a series of mini-speeches or even scrap it altogether.
Political scientist Dr Norman Miners said the annual address to Legco, given to the first legislative session of October, was 'just a tradition'.
'If the chief executive [of the Special Administrative Region] chooses to treat the Legislative Council with contempt, there's no necessity for them to go,' he said. 'It's entirely up to the way they like to do things.' The Governor has the right to attend Legco or any of its committees, a right he was granted following changes to the Royal Instructions in 1993 and which will expire at the handover.
Under the Basic Law, however, there is no mention of any similar right for the Special Administration Region's chief executive, and no mention of an annual policy speech.
In the 1920s, when Legco was smaller, the governor delivered his policy speech and the budget together, in the spring slot now reserved for the budget alone.
The Governor's spokesman, Kerry McGlynn, said the current arrangements were 'good for continuity'.
'It gives both the public and Legco and idea of what's happening,' he said.
This is the Governor's last chance to make a speech setting out a full year's policies. Next year's will cover just nine months and be prepared in the shadow of a Preparatory Committee and, possibly, with the chief executive already named and starting work.
Mr Patten will spend the morning in Government House going through his briefing papers one last time, although it will be too late for any brainwaves as the speech was printed in bulk last night and his TV address was recorded yesterday.
He will go to the Legco chamber a little before 2.30.
After a press conference and a bite to eat, this evening will see him debate his policies with the public and legislators in front of TV cameras.
The Governor's speech is the first to be transmitted on the Internet.
It will be available at http://www.hongkong.org.