What if Raymond Kwok Ping-luen, a vice-chairman and managing director of Sun Hung Kai Properties, became the chairman of the Securities and Futures Commission, even for just a day? Legislators raised the issue yesterday, saying the draft of a bill splitting the role of the SFC chairman allowed for such a possibility. This is not because Mr Kwok is in the running for chairmanship of the securities watchdog, but because he is a non-executive director of the commission. Existing laws stipulate that if the chairman of the SFC falls ill or goes on leave, the acting chairman will be chosen from the executive directors. But the Securities and Futures (Amendment) Bill 2005, if passed, would make it possible for a non-executive director to be appointed as acting chairman. Legislator Sin Chung-kai said this raised concerns about conflict of interests. 'We've heard that there are many restrictions placed on the chairman to make sure there is no conflict of interests, but I understand that the bar for non-executive directors is much lower,' Mr Sin told the bills committee. 'How will it look if a company director of a major listed company becomes the head of the SFC?' Permanent Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Kelvin Ho Chi-ming said there were sufficient safeguards to prevent any wrongdoing. 'The chairman's future role will be non-executive, for one, and whoever becomes the acting chairman will also be governed by existing checks that prevent conflict of interests,' said Mr Ho. Such safeguards include anti-bribery laws and the SFC's internal laws and guidelines. 'If it is just a short-term arrangement, then it is not necessarily feasible to impose restrictions on business relationships on the acting chairman,' Mr Ho added. But Mr Sin questioned the definition of 'short term', saying that even a week could be considered too long. Mr Ho said the government would prepare a set of guidelines and proposed procedures on the issue and present them to the bills committee at its next meeting. He said the government had come up with broad principles on the division of roles, and it was now up to the commission to draw up the details. But SFC chairman Andrew Sheng, who will leave the post when his contract expires in September, said the parameters of the division should be defined by the government. Mr Sheng's decision to quit came after the government announced in December its plan to split his job - into a chief executive and a non-executive chairman. 'The accountability issue will ultimately come down to how the law is drafted and that is a matter of the government's policy intention,' he said.