Statutory boards have 137 appointed members who have served more than six years despite a government rule against such lengthy appointments.
The figure, revealed by the Home Affairs Bureau yesterday in a written reply to Democratic Party lawmaker James To Kun-sun, also showed six civil servant representatives on boards had attended fewer than half their meetings in the past three years.
The Building Authority's appeal tribunal panel had 41 appointed members who had served for more than six years, followed by the Inland Revenue review board, with 20, and the Municipal Services appeal board, with 14.
A Home Affairs Bureau spokeswoman conceded the principle still applied, but insisted the 'most important factor is that considerations are based on the merit of the candidates'.
She said appointing authorities should be given flexibility to choose members with the right ability and experience to suit the needs of the board, and candidates should have a commitment to serving the public.
Lawmaker Emily Lau Wai-hing, of The Frontier, said it was ridiculous that the government should ignore its own rules and have 137 'exceptions' to this one.
'It's not as if there is a lack of talent for these posts, but [Chief Executive] Donald Tsang Yam-kuen only wants to reward his friends in his small circle,' she said.
Ms Lau said Mr Tsang had also ignored this principle when reappointing district councillors. He was also expanding the political appointment system to name deputy directors and political assistants to bureau directors.
'When you look at all these events, it leaves a bad taste in the mouth,' Ms Lau said.
Of the six official members with an attendance rate of less than 50 per cent, the home affairs assistant director did not attend any of the 11 meetings of the Council on Human Reproductive Technology.
The department is reviewing whether it needs a representative on this board, because it deals with matters unrelated to the officer's work.
The government is ignoring its own rules about time limits for appointed members of statutory bodies
The Building Authority's appeals tribunal has the most members who have served more than six years, with 41