The stock exchange should extend its trading day by only one hour instead of the planned two, according to Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Frederick Ma Si-hang. Mr Ma yesterday said he shared brokers' concerns that extending the close of trading to 5pm would add to market risks. The board of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing is due next week to discuss extending trading hours by shortening the lunch break to one hour and extending the market close by an hour beyond 4pm. Mr Ma said he was expressing his personal view and not government policy. However, it is the second time in two weeks he has opposed HKEx policy. Shortly after taking office, Mr Ma said he had reached a 'consensus' with HKEx that the listing committee should be retained. HKEx had earlier announced plans to scrap the committee and transfer most of its powers to an internal exchange division as part of plans to streamline the listing process. HKEx's two-hour trading extension has already been scaled back from a far more radical proposal that would have lengthened trading by seven hours. Last year HKEx suggested making trading continuous from 10am to 6pm and adding an evening session from 8pm to 11pm. The proposal was aimed at increasing the market's competitiveness: at four hours, Hong Kong has one of the shortest trading days in the world. Strong opposition from brokers forced HKEx to propose a more modest extension. But some brokers remain opposed even to a two-hour extension, saying they will not have enough time for lunch and market risks would increase because they would be unable to deposit client cheques in banks after 4pm. Nine banks have agreed to keep one branch each in Central open, but brokers have said this is not enough as some of them are based outside the district. 'To have a nice lunch is not important for Westerners but it is very important for the Chinese. I think we need to respect this cultural difference,' Mr Ma said. 'It is also important to make sure the extension will not increase risks to the market.' He said he thought trading should be extended by an hour only - by cutting 30 minutes at lunch-time and delaying the market close to 4.30pm. An HKEx spokesman said the exchange would consider Mr Ma's comments. Mr Ma also backed company directors who have opposed an HKEx proposal to disclose individual directors' pay packets, which would bring Hong Kong into line with practice in the United States and Britain. 'Many directors in Hong Kong are concerned about their personal security if their payment is disclosed. That security is not so much a concern in the overseas market. We should not always follow the overseas system but we need to make policy according to local market needs,' he said.