Save for those who rendered themselves persona non grata because of their unsavoury conduct, former heads of government are valuable assets for their homelands - and even the world. Former US presidents Jimmy Carter, George Bush and Bill Clinton, for example, have exercised their expertise and influence to lend credibility to worthy causes and find solutions for protracted issues, both at home and abroad. Hong Kong's former chief executives cannot hope to match the prowess of these ex-leaders of a superpower. But we should not have to adopt a utilitarian approach in coming to the conclusion that they should be properly recognised for their contributions on leaving office. Although they may or may not have been popular because of the policies they pursued during their tenure, they have given their best. It would do Hong Kong no good if our former chief executives were simply cast aside and not accorded the status and respect they deserve for having served the people. In fact, in the context of Hong Kong being a special part of China and an international financial centre, the effectiveness of our former chief executives as goodwill ambassadors for this city and the nation cannot be underestimated. It is therefore fitting that the Independent Commission on the Remuneration Package and Post-office Arrangements for the Chief Executive has proposed a range of measures to help them discharge their ambassadorial duties. The commission obviously took care to prevent such measures becoming a drain on the public purse. Instead of giving an allowance to former chief executives to set up their own personal office, a small office with secretarial staff will be set up by the government to serve all former chief executives. Body guards and official transport, where necessary, will be provided from the government's pooled services. Before 1997, Hong Kong did not need to impose any post-retirement restrictions on ex-governors. As they returned to Britain on completing their tenure, there was no need to worry about them using their influence here to their personal benefit. After the handover, however, rules to guard against former chief executives exploiting their status for personal gain have become necessary. As they are all local residents, it is only natural that they are most likely to continue to call Hong Kong home. The commission has proposed a tough set of rules governing the conduct of our former chief executives. They will be barred from any employment for a year and must seek advice from a specially appointed committee for the next two if they want to work. During this period, they will be barred from working for property developers, companies awarded franchises by the government during their tenure or representing anyone suing the government. By contrast, former British prime ministers are subject to a three-month work ban and need only take advice from a committee before accepting jobs within two years. On where the chief executive should live, the commission has proposed that he or she be given an official residence, but stops short of proposing how that would come about. Before 1997, governors used to live and work in Government House, but it ceased to be the official residence after Tung Chee-hwa decided not to move in. Since then, it has been used by the government and non-governmental organisation for official and charitable functions. Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, who is expected to be the next chief executive, is reportedly keen to make Government House his official residence. That would not be a bad decision, as there would be no need to spend a fortune to build a new stately home for our leader. It would also be a sign of maturity for the chief executive to show that he could take charge of Hong Kong from within a colonial mansion without being trapped by a colonial mentality.