New calls to expand watchdog's authority

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 December, 2007, 12:00am

Lawmakers and the ombudsman yesterday renewed their calls for the expansion of the official watchdog's jurisdiction to include district councils and the Electoral Affairs Commission.

Democratic Party legislator Yeung Sum said with the growing number of complaints over the elections, certain administrative functions of the electoral commission should be scrutinised to support its role in ensuring fair elections.

In a paper submitted to lawmakers last week, the administration wing of the office of the chief secretary indicated it did not deem it necessary to subject either the councils or the commission to the scrutiny of the office of the ombudsman.

In the annual meeting with lawmakers yesterday, Ombudsman Alice Tai Yuen-ying said she believed the district councils, some of which have already begun implementing reforms allowing them executive power to manage designated district facilities, should now be subject to her office's scrutiny.

'From our point of view, the district councils have taken on the role previously held by the urban councils and the regional councils' which used to be within the watchdog's jurisdiction, she said.

The administration acknowledged that from January district councils' jurisdiction would be expanded to include the management of designated facilities, but it pointed out that 'day-to-day management of the facilities would continue to be handled by the relevant departments'.

An administration spokesman said it 'would work out its final responses to the recommendations' after hearing more views from a Legislative Council panel meeting tomorrow and other relevant bodies.