Donald Tsang

Yes, ministers - would-be aides rush in

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 16 December, 2007, 12:00am

Political parties and individuals are already knocking on government doors in the hope of securing new ministerial posts just approved by the Legislative Council, the constitutional affairs chief said yesterday.

A day after Legco approved HK$65 million in funding for 11 undersecretaries and 13 assistants to ministers, Stephen Lam Sui-lung said he had already received unsolicited applications from individuals.

While Mr Lam said he had not received any name lists from political parties, he did not deny suggestions the chief executive had received some. But he believed appointees with a party background would be in the minority.

Also, Mr Lam said experience showed that for any electoral changes in 2012, a decision had to be taken at least one or two years before the elections.

He would not say if universal suffrage in 2012 remained an option. But he hoped the electoral methods in 2012 could be further democratised.

'No matter whether universal suffrage will come in 2012 or any other year, the present electoral methods definitely have room for further democratisation,' Mr Lam said.

He rejected claims that functional constituency lawmakers were blocking moves towards democracy, saying their views were also important. 'I don't think it's appropriate to put functional constituency members and the community at opposite ends.'

In the government's report to the National People's Congress Standing Committee last week, Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen said while a majority wanted universal suffrage in 2012, introducing it in 2017 'stands a better chance of being accepted by the majority'.

Li Gang, a deputy director of Beijing's liaison office, said the report had objectively reflected the community's views. Speaking on RTHK's Hong Kong Letter, Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen said Mr Tsang made the assessment regarding 2017 after considering the public's views and support in Legco.