Exco must engage with public

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 November, 2013, 3:21am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 November, 2013, 3:21am

When the controversy over Hong Kong Television Network (HKTV) not being granted a free-to-air TV licence started, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said secrecy in Executive Council policy decisions was part of Hong Kong's system of governance under the "one country, two systems" principle.

A motion to invoke Legco's powers to make Exco explain its decision on the awarding of only two instead of three free-to-air licences would have been a departure from this pre-1997 Exco tradition if passed.

Before Legco debated it, the media reported the names of Exco members who supported a third licence, for HKTV. If the reports were accurate, this was clearly a breach of the confidentiality rule on Exco's deliberations.

Public demonstrations supporting HKTV had reached a high pitch, to the extent that a pro-establishment political party successfully negotiated with the chief executive for the government to release a statement on the eve of the Legco debate giving a number of reasons why HKTV was not awarded a licence.

The Legco motion was defeated following strong lobbying by the administration of pro-government legislators.

After the Legco debate, one or two unofficial Exco members were reported by the media to have said the licence controversy stemmed from a huge discrepancy between Exco's decision and public expectations and there was a need to review how public opinion could be better gauged.

This suggestion, if followed up, could help to strengthen Exco's relations with the general public.

C. Y. Leung has stated publicly that should there be an application for a judicial review of Exco's decision, he would be prepared to provide any necessary information as required by the court.

I think it is now time for legislators and community leaders to focus on other vital issues, such as the long-term housing report, the population report and the innovation and technology report, which are very relevant to Hong Kong's future growth.

And let us not forget China's newly announced 10-year national reform plan for economic and social development, in which Hong Kong and the mainland will be co-operating in a mutually beneficial way to advance the nation's globalisation in the 21st century.

Hilton Cheong-Leen, To Kwa Wan