C.Y. rejects call to give public a say on overhaul
Tony Cheung and Colleen Lee
Chief executive-elect Leung Chun-ying refused last night to give in to pan-democrat calls for a public consultation on a proposed government restructure, saying it was not unusual to press ahead without one.
Leung's remarks came after his first official talks with more than a dozen pan-democratic lawmakers since the March 25 chief executive election.
Speaking after the closed-door meeting, pan-democrats said they were unhappy with what they said was Leung's evasion of the issue of how to proceed with universal suffrage in the next chief executive election in 2017.
Leung's administration has proposed that the Transport and Housing Bureau and the Development Bureau be restructured to create a housing, planning and lands bureau along with a transport and works bureau.
Other ideas include splitting the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau into an industry and commerce bureau alongside a technology and communications bureau, and creating a culture bureau.
This would raise the total number of bureaus to 14 from the current 12. Leung said the restructure was urgently needed to help solve 'deep-rooted problems' in society, such as housing needs.
In addition, he has suggested creating deputy chief secretary and deputy financial secretary posts, saying these moves would 'neither expand nor change the political appointment system'.
Responding to Democrat Lee Wing-tat's call for a three-month consultation on the overhaul, Leung argued that he had already consulted the public since his platform was unveiled in December.
'We actually follow past practices ... It is not uncommon for the government to rehash and reorganise government bureaus,' Leung said. 'Since the handover, there have been several changes to the number of bureaus and adjustments to their duties.'
Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun, the head of Leung's preparatory office, said the public could air their views throughout the course of the Legislative Council's scrutiny of the proposals, which Leung's office would table with Legco next week.
Democratic Party chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan, who lost in the chief executive race, will meet Law again tomorrow to discuss the restructuring issues.
Meanwhile, Civic Party leader Alan Leong Kah-kit said Leung was not addressing universal suffrage for the 2017 poll, and urged him to discuss the topic in his first policy address in October after consulting various factions.
'What is most disappointing is that [it seems that] Mr Leung has not considered how to implement universal suffrage ... It is unforgivable,' Leong said.
Ho said the nomination procedures for the 2017 chief executive poll should be set out by 2015 so that various political groups could prepare.
But Leung did not comment on whether he would address universal suffrage in his policy address.