Legislators yesterday urged the government to remove itself from day-to-day stock market monitoring and give the job to an independent watchdog. The call came as Financial Secretary Antony Leung Kam-chung announced that a panel of local and foreign experts would review the three-tiered securities regulation structure that came under harsh criticism following the penny-stocks debacle. Legislators said the review should look into the government's role and the administration should be more hands-off from the daily regulation of the market to avoid unrealistic public expectation. They also said the review should shift the regulation work of the listed companies from the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEx) to the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC). Mr Leung yesterday did not give a timetable on when the review would be completed. But he said it should not be as long as the one-year securities market review, made after 1987 crash. Under the 12-year-old three-tiered system, the government sets the policy, the SFC regulates the daily operations of brokers and shares with the stock exchange the regulation of listed companies. In last Tuesday's penny-stocks investigation report, the two-member panel said it was time to review the structure as the incident had revealed unclear roles between the government, the SFC and HKEx. The report said the government should only be a co-ordinator and not a regulator, while it should also consider shifting the listing committee from the exchange to the SFC. Legislator Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee said the review should make sure the government distanced itself from the role of regulator. 'From the market intervention in 1998 to the merger plan of the stock exchange and futures exchange to form the HKEx, the government may have intervened too much in the stock market,' Ms Ng said. As an example of the government not distancing itself from daily regulation, she said it appoints the chairman of the SFC and appoints many board members in HKEx. The Democrats' economic affairs spokesman Sin Chung-kai said the party had always called for the shifting of regulation duty of the HKEx on listed companies to the SFC. This would help HKEx to avoid its conflicting role as it had become a profit-making company and was no longer suitable to be a regulator of other companies. He also called for the government to reconsider a suggestion made by a Legislative Council report in April, calling for Hong Kong to follow the British model and set up two working panels under the SFC, with one formed by the consumers and the other by market participants. 'The two panels would help the SFC to collect opinions from the market. This is similar to what the penny-stocks report proposes,' he said. Mr Leung said the three-tiered structure review committee would look into the Legco report suggestions.