Executive Council convenor complains of policy making ambush

Criticism comes amid calls to revitalise role of key policymaking body in running of city

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 03 June, 2013, 5:53am

Executive Council convenor Lam Woon-kwong has criticised government bureaus for not making details of policy proposals clear to executive councillors until a very late stage.

His words came after executive councillor Starry Lee Wai-king, a vice-chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, last week asked Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying to think about how to inform council members earlier to allow them to participate more fully in the various bureaus' policymaking processes.

Legislative Council chairman Jasper Tsang Yok-sing said last week that the council, the city's core policymaking authority, had been losing power since the handover and that its functions and composition must be reviewed.

"[The level of initiative shown by] different bureaus varies," Lam said on TVB Jade's On the Record yesterday. "Some are comparatively more proactive in inviting us regularly to join their lunch meetings and letting us know what they are doing so we can participate more and offer our advice."

As part of his bid for election, Leung pledged to "reinforce the functions of the Executive Council, enhance participation by non-official members [and] garner proposals and views [from the council] at the early stages of policy formulation".

Lam said it was hard to determine whether the council had achieved Leung's stated goal, but he commended the Transport and Housing Bureau and encouraged others to follow its example.

Secretary for Food and Health Dr Ko Wing-man said in response to Lam's comments: "We'll be more proactive in explaining to the Executive Council the policies we're formulating … If it's pointed out by the executive councillors, we must have room for improvement."

Commenting on former executive councillor Barry Cheung Chun-yuen and the probe into his failed Hong Kong Mercantile Exchange, Lam said the council would review and tighten its declaration of interests system if it were found to be wanting, but he reiterated that the system was already very stringent.

"If there's any personal or company debt … which would put your personal finances in danger, I think it's inevitable that we should look into it [in a future review]," he said.