• Tue
  • Dec 23, 2014
  • Updated: 1:32pm
Leung Chun-ying
NewsHong Kong

Hong Kong policymakers told to take account of China's views

Mandatory assessments of policies' impact on mainland seen as odd by civil servants, but Exco member calls requirement reasonable

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 May, 2013, 10:36am
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 May, 2013, 6:03am

A confidential Executive Council memo that requires all future policy proposals to factor in the likely mainland reaction has sparked concern that the government is putting mainland interests ahead of Hong Kong's.

One government administrative officer called the memo "odd", and said colleagues were stunned when they received it early this month. A ruling that the assessment be omitted from papers submitted to lawmakers has prompted further questions.

Executive councillor and lawmaker Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee said that as recent policies had courted criticism from the mainland, "it would be reasonable to remind civil servants that they should do such an assessment".

The memo comes amid heightened Hong Kong-mainland tensions, with Leung Chun-ying's administration facing mainlanders' criticism for policies that affect their interests, especially a limit on baby-formula exports of two cans per person per day to stop rampant buying up of supplies by parallel-goods traders who smuggle the milk over the border.

"From June 1, an assessment on mainland perception and related public relations measures will become … mandatory … for all Policy Committee papers and Executive Council submissions", the document, leaked to Apple Daily, reads. It was issued to administrative officers by the Executive Council secretariat on May 2, an officer told the South China Morning Post.

"When we saw the memo, we nearly fell off our chairs. It's just odd," the officer, who preferred not to be named, said.

He said he doubted the need for the requirement, as it was usual practice to put assessments of different stakeholders' reactions under a "public reaction" chapter in policy papers.

The memo says all policy bureaus and departments should, using common sense, assess the reaction of the mainland community to their policies, including governments, the people, the media and organisations. It should also suggest whether it is necessary to liaise with and explain the policy to them.

A government spokesman said a range of factors were considered in policymaking, and assessing mainland reaction was "responsible behaviour".

"We stress that the government departments will make the assessments in strict accordance with the Basic Law and 'one country, two systems'."

Former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang said: "Under 'one country, two systems', there is no reason why Hong Kong's policymakers should be constantly looking over their shoulders, trying to second-guess possible mainland reaction."

She said there had been no requirement before the handover to assess UK reaction to domestic policy issues, even when these had significant implications for British commercial interests.

Civic Party leader and lawmaker Alan Leong Kah-kit said he was puzzled to see the government making "common sense" a black-and-white requirement.

"I fear that this could send the wrong message and civil servants would think that mainland interests could override those of the people of Hong Kong."

But one executive councillor said he did not think the memo would affect policymakers.

"If officials are over-concerned with mainland reaction, their integrity will be questioned by lawmakers when they go to lobby for their policies."


More on this story

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

689 was selected by Beijing not H.K people. So all his policies are pro-communist
and rubbish. He is guiltily to all citizens.
to choose between the bad and the worse, I would rather be a Hong Kong traitor than a China traitor.
Cy licks his bosses asses and is now having Hong Kong to do the same.
Let's not forget, we are suppsoed to be his boss....
hard times !
if is strange that now the Leung administration has made 'common sense' a black-and-white requirement when making policies that might cause reactions across the border at Lowu or even northwards ! These days,our beloved Hong Kong has become a rather weird place to live in.I advise youngsters to seriously consider emigrating /studying abroad/getting married with foreigners so as to leave the territory not later than 2027----20 years before the 2047 when the 'One country,two systems' comes to an end---for their well-beings !
I agree with Regina Ip that the circular is an expected reminder because some recent statements have not been as tactful as they should or could have been. Maybe the language skills need to be improved rather than the diplomatic dexterity.
Even with family members, friends and neighbours we choose our language, pitch our tone of voice and choose the mobility of our expression, as appropriate
Why should we not extend the same courtesy and sensitivity to Beijing considering the relationship between HongKong and the Mainland government?
The outcries of 'boot-licking' and 'kowtowing' to the masters in Beijing are ill-thought through and unmannered. The writers seem to know nothing about how departments and how staff work or fail to follow directives and guidelines.
Moreover, in their rush to print with excess of adrenalin or whatever, they forget that Hong Kong is not an independent entity. It is a tiny strip of land belonging to China and politically the Hong Kong government is another arm of the government of China.
Why is this so surprising?
Sounded like some confucius close minded idiots are acting like an out of date and ignorant parent!!!
This growing culture - inherited from the Brits (who are, by the way, past masters at secrecy and world leaders in duplicity) in significant part - and combined with the naturally closed nature of a one-party state - feeds off itself and makes the situation worse. Open up, be transparent and opposition will wither. Unless ofcourse, the reason you aint opening up is because you have something to hide.
If this is so normal, why was it kept confidential and required to be outed by Apple Daily?



SCMP.com Account