Debate over a regulatory or legal structure to govern political parties has been going on for more than a decade without any action. Progress has been hampered by government hesitancy and concerns by parties that their funding could dry up if they were forced to reveal the sources. Pan-democrats are worried that their donors may face harassment and discrimination if their identities are revealed and parties, such as the Liberal Party, that get money from business have also said they might face difficulties if their sources were exposed. The issue, which has rumbled since political parties began to emerge in the early 1990s, was given impetus in 1994 by the British House of Commons 'cash for questions' affair, in 2000 by the scandal over the prosecution of leading pro-government politician Gary Cheng Kai-nam and more recently by the intense debate over political reforms. Late last year former secretary for the civil service Joseph Wong Wing-ping wrote that with heavy lobbying likely over the reform proposals the need for a law to regulate the conduct and finance of political parties was becoming a pressing issue. 'The fact that there is no statutory requirement governing the nature, limits and disclosure of party donations outside the election campaign period gives the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (and all other political parties) tremendous flexibility to solicit or receive donations that could become a source of corruption and abuse,' wrote Wong, now an honorary professor at the University of Hong Kong. The government has said from time to time that it sees no immediate need for a political parties ordinance. Secretary for Constitutional Affairs Stephen Lam Sui-lung said in 2004 that statutory controls to regulate parties 'might be counter-productive' but 'circumstances may change' as the relationship between political parties and the community evolved. Also at issue is what form any controls should take. In 2004, a Civic Exchange-sponsored study, drawing from experience in Australia, recommended a political party registration system. The study by Richard Cullen, now a visiting professor at the University of Hong Kong, suggested a system under which parties would have to submit regular reports on income, expenditure and debts, in return for formal recognition as a political party which would then enable them to apply for public funding and tax benefits. Cullen said that the fact donations were published would mean 'parties will audit one another' with 'constant self-regulation', making parties and lawmakers constantly mindful of how they received and used donations. But he warned against a political party ordinance, as this could be used by the government to eliminate election candidates. In Britain, the 'cash for questions' scandal in 1994 sparked the creation of a committee to review conduct of those in public office. Public misconduct in Britain is often dealt with through political accountability, where a parliamentary sub-committee is formed to investigate, and members step down, or fail to be re-elected. In Hong Kong, lawmakers can register their interests on taking office, 'but it is left to individual members to give the required information and be responsible for what is recorded about himself ... as each is answerable to his fellow members and the public,' according to Legco's committee on members' interests which monitors such affairs. Any instance of misconduct or corruption is dealt with by the Independent Commission Against Corruption. Gary Cheng Kai-nam, a former vice-chairman of the Democratic Alliance for Betterment of Hong Kong - predecessor to the current DAB - was convicted in 2001 of corruption and deception and jailed for 18 months. Cheng was found to have spoken on behalf of the Sports Development Board at three Legco meetings without disclosing he was being paid by the board as a public relations consultant.