Exco chief Lam Woon-kwong says public is key to developing policy
Tanna Chong, Emily Tsang and Gary Cheung
Executive Council convenor Lam Woon-kwong says public participation is a prerequisite in developing policies, and views from both government and opposition are equally important.
Speaking at a forum about public engagement in policymaking yesterday, the former minister and Equal Opportunities Commission chairman said the government should not see the public as a problem.
"A common problem identified in OECD countries is that the government sees the public as problems, instead of partners," said the former civil servant, referring to the 34-nation Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
Neither should the opposition bring a preconceived antagonism to the consultation process, Lam said.
"Regardless of your political stance it is important that you hold an open attitude - you also have to listen to and analyse what your opponent says," said Lam. "A civilised attitude is as important. Frankly speaking, there are some [lawmakers] who do not take part in the process in a civilised manner."
He asked for patience from the public as the first round of electoral reform consultation is launched this month, calling on Hongkongers to express their opinions on the path to universal suffrage in 2017.
"I hope the public can raise their views within the scope of the Basic Law and the related decisions made by the National People's Congress Standing Committee," said Lam.
He added that the "love the country and Hong Kong" requirement for the next chief executive stated by Basic Law Committee chairman Li Fei has been the "consistent stance of the central government".
The government's first consultation document on electoral reform is likely to be announced by Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor at a Legco meeting on December 11, according to an informed source.
The consultation will last about four months, a month longer than usual.
Asked about the warning from Asia's richest man, Li Ka-shing, that the city was headed down the path of the "rule of man" as opposed to the rule of law, Lam said Hong Kong had always upheld the rule of law.
"Hong Kong has been a city subject to the rule of law for a long time. We all hope the system can be maintained as this is what the seven million Hongkongers believe in," said Lam.
Former financial secretary Antony Leung Kam-chung called Li's remark a "good reminder".
"I think the reason he spoke was to remind [Hong Kong] of the reason for our success," said Leung.
"I agree that the rule of law is the foundation that keeps the city competitive. We should work hard to keep [it]."