Revealed: turnout figures for Executive Council meetings
'Breakthrough' as attendance figures for the Executive Council are released for the first time; one member has a 100 per cent record
Tanna Chong and Gary Cheung
Disclosure of attendance rates at Executive Council meetings for the first time has been hailed as a breakthrough by a lawmaker whose question extracted the information.
The government released the figures yesterday - after years of refusing to answer questions on the issue - in reply to a query from Civic Party legislator Kenneth Chan Ka-lok.
They show that former education minister Professor Arthur Li Kwok-cheung, who took time off last year to care for his dying wife, has the lowest attendance at 61 per cent, while staunch Leung Chun-ying supporter Cheung Chi-kong is the only one with 100 per cent attendance.
The figures, from the date the present government took office in July 2012 to March this year, show an average attendance rate of 88 per cent for the 14 non-official members.
Chan said it was a "breakthrough" towards a more transparent government.
"It shows the government was simply lazy when they refused previous demands to publicise the data," said the pan-democrat, who filed the question at the Finance Committee's special meeting on the budget. "It was also unjustified for it to cite Exco's confidentiality rule."
He said the government should provide such statistics on a regular basis from now on.
Li said he had missed meetings to care for his wife, Diana, who died of breast cancer in September last year. His absences were "pre-approved by the chief executive", he said, and he did not receive any pay from Exco during the period.
Cheung, head of the One Country Two Systems Research Institute, was the only member to attend all 79 meetings in the 21 months.
An Exco secretariat spokeswoman said it was the first time members' attendance rates had been disclosed.
The Chief Executive's Office permanent secretary, Alice Lau Yim, told lawmakers earlier this month that the Exco Secretariat "has not compiled any statistics on members' attendance rates".
But yesterday she also provided statistics on the members' withdrawal from discussions due to conflict of interest.
The first half of 2012 - the last six months of the government of Donald Tsang Yam-kuen - saw the most withdrawals with 222 over 22 meetings. During Leung's rule, conflict of interest was cited in 30 withdrawals from 23 meetings in the second half of 2012.