• Thu
  • Dec 25, 2014
  • Updated: 9:03am
My Take
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 August, 2013, 1:29am

Exco risks fading into political irrelevance

If Executive Council member Franklin Lam Fan-keung had wanted to spare the council embarrassment, he should have quit when official investigations were first launched into his dealings in the sale of two family flats. Now that he has been cleared by prosecutors and the ICAC, he might be expected to stay on. Instead, he calls it quits. Is he protesting against the perceived persecution of him by selected media outlets and political groups? Or could he just have had enough?

Officials and supporters warn that his travails and resignation will discourage other talented people from joining the government. But his pussyfooting says something about his suitability as a member of the chief executive's "cabinet" in the first place. He is not irreplaceable in Exco. His expertise is in housing and the property market. His greatest call appeared to be advising rich clients to go into the property market while working as a banker and finance adviser.

Well, many Hong Kong people with spare cash were speculating in property in the past few years, so that hardly qualifies as deep market insight. It's only in Hong Kong that people who help blow a market bubble to enrich themselves and their friends are considered "experts".

His departure from Exco follows that of Barry Cheung Chun-yuen, a close ally and election campaign manager for Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying. Cheung quit Exco in May after police investigations were launched over the failed Hong Kong Mercantile Exchange of which he was the founder. Repeated controversies embroiling Exco members and the recruitment of political lightweights to a government organ once considered the apex of the political system have led critics to question the role of Exco at a time when Hong Kong is undergoing rapid political and social changes.

Exco used to be a genuine power centre during the colonial era because its members represented the colony's powerful interests such as the British hongs, HSBC, and the Jockey Club. After the handover, different power centres such as the property tycoons had a direct line to Beijing. Unless Exco can function as a real cabinet under constitutional reform, it risks being increasingly irrelevant.


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This article is now closed to comments

The reason Exco was effective during the Colonial era (and you may not like this, but it is true) is because whilst Hong Kong then had an autocratic government, it was at least genuinely accountable to a democratically elected government and legislature in the UK, which kept the HK Govt. in check and largely honest. Now we have an autocratic government pretending to be accountable, but which is only accountable to another autocratic government in Beijing, which means there is no accountability at all. In a culture where corruption is an endemic reality, this gives free reign to abuse by people who have no sense of restraint.
There can never be much talent in a government which persists in a Political Appointments System which, as we have seen, is based on cronyism. This has produced an untalented, squalid parcel of appointment seekers, many of whom, it seems, cannot help using their inside knowledge to serve their own greed. Another result of this system is that the amoral property and other business tycoons have been able to dictate land and economic policy through the dirty influence they exert upon Exco. In China it is called Guanxi. In plain language it is simply corruption.
God help Hong Kong, for our Chief Executive seems unable to see the wood for the trees and is trapped in a rotten system he did not create.
Caractacus has summed up in one paragraph the tragedy of our political system in Hong Kong. It is therefore not surprising that such political governace would oppose the enactment of archives law in Hong Kong. The Archives Action Group which has been pushing the HK Government for such archives law will welcome dialogue with intelligent person such as Caractacus.
William Waung
hard times !
yeah, our once-respectful and prestigious Exco has already downgraded to a chitchat club where every member utters his/her words every Tuesday ! It is indeed increasingly irrelevant--------the existence of it in more and more Hongkongers' eyes seems to be an extra only ! We just can do without it. The former member of it , Lam Fan-keung ,could take a nine-month-long leave before his final presentation of his resignation ! And another key member, Barry Cheung Chun-yeung had to go for the bankruptcy of his HKMEx. while he is now being sued for a debt of HK$40 millions ! I remember in the British colonial days, such scandals could hardly take place since at that time, to be appointed an Exco member symbolized your prominent status in the society and your financial status was proved sound and healthy. Members at that time were really advisors of the Governor !


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