Outspoken members dumped as advisory board restructured

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 June, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 June, 2007, 12:00am

The government's advisory body on strategic development has been radically restructured, with specialist sub-committees being removed and the number of members cut from 152 to 67.

A sub-committee that advised on constitutional change has been scrapped, along with outspoken members including veteran Democrat Martin Lee Chu-ming, Civic Party member Albert Lai Kwong-tak and Christine Loh Kung-wai, chief executive of the Civic Exchange think-tank.

Prominent new members of the Commission on Strategic Development (CSD) include Elsie Leung Oi-sie, the former secretary for justice, former chief secretary Sir David Akers-Jones and Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, the former security chief.

The new terms will last for two years. Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen said: 'The new commission [beginning July 1] will continue to explore the way forward for Hong Kong's future development from a macro and long-term perspective.

'We believe that the commission will continue to gauge a wide range of community views to help the formulation of major policies on the long-term development of Hong Kong.'

The removal of the sub-committee on governance and political development, and the absence of specific mention of political reform for the new term is an indication that with a green paper to be issued early next month, the CSD's role in political development has ended.

Unionist lawmaker and committee member Lee Cheuk-yan said he had been aware there would be some new arrangements but was surprised to hear of such drastic changes.

'Since we played a part in compiling the green paper, I hope the CSD still has a role to play once public opinion has been gathered,' he said, adding he feared discussions would now become too generalised.

Mr Lai, who had been on a sub-committee on quality of life, said he was not told he was out.

'This is typical of the government,' he said. 'What will they do with the suggestions we've made? Where is the wrap-up report, or the follow-up action? It's like we spoke, but didn't really speak at all.'