II. Good Governance
7. As a Chief Executive with 37 years of experience in public administration, I have set good governance as the primary requirement for my political team. Good governance is vital, whether in discharging the responsibilities of the Government as a “service provider” or a “regulator”, or in taking up the new roles of the Government as a “facilitator” and a “promoter” that I advocate. Through immense contributions made by generations of Hong Kong people and countless challenges overcome, we have established our core values including an independent judicial system, adherence to the rule of law, a highly efficient and clean Government, freedom of the press, respect for human rights, pluralism and inclusiveness as well as the freedom of expression. Since our return to the Motherland, these institutional strengths, rights and freedoms have been protected by the Basic Law under the principle of “One Country, Two Systems”. These constitutional bulwarks and cornerstones of a civilised society and our moral values are unbreachable. The Government and myself will, with our utmost endeavours, implement the “One Country, Two Systems” principle, uphold the Basic Law and safeguard the rule of law. This is my solemn pledge to the Central Government and the HKSAR.
New Roles for the Government
8. As Hong Kong becomes an increasingly complex society and the expectations and demands of the community towards the Government have continuously grown, there have been new challenges to governance. The Government must come up with policies and measures that address the community’s needs, respond to the pressing issues faced by the population while displaying a strong sense of commitment and high efficiency. Thus, the Government’s roles must also keep abreast of the times to seize the opportunities for steady social and economic development.
9. During my election campaign, I proposed that the Government should take up new roles other than as a “service provider” and a “regulator”. The proposal has gained wide support from the community. In taking up the role of a “facilitator”, the Government should be visionary, scrutinise existing policies and measures pursuant to policy objectives, remove obstacles for our industries, and strengthen co-ordination and co-operation across government bureaux and departments, and provide “one-stop” consultation and services as far as practicable, with a view to maximising the benefits for the community. Furthermore, government officials should place more emphasis on the role of the Government as a “promoter”. By strengthening the links between the HKSAR and the Mainland as well as other countries, elevating Hong Kong’s status as Asia’s world city, attracting Mainland and overseas enterprises and talent to Hong Kong and, in collaboration with relevant organisations and trade representatives, proactively conducting “government-to-government” (G2G) interactions and lobbying, we seek to further expand Hong Kong’s external relations. To set a good example by practising what I preach, I have made nine outbound visits since my assumption of office.
Upholding the Principle of Meritocracy
10. The new term of Government attaches importance to public participation and engagement. In the course of policy formulation, we will listen to different sectors of the society, especially industry stakeholders, frontline personnel as well as young people, and take account of their views with a view to building consensus. I have called upon all policy bureaux to uphold the principle of meritocracy and cast their net wide in scouting for talents. Anyone with ability and the commitment to serve the community will stand a chance to join various statutory and advisory bodies and tender advice to the Government.
11. To further encourage public participation, the Government will introduce a pilot self-recommendation scheme to recruit young members as a priority target. We have already identified five advisory committees for inclusion in the first batch for recruiting self-recommended young members. These committees, covering different policy areas, include the Youth Development Commission to be established, the Committee on the Promotion of Civic Education, the Committee on Innovation, Technology and Re-industrialisation, the Environmental Campaign Committee and the Action Committee Against Narcotics. The Home Affairs Bureau (HAB) is drawing up a mechanism for recruitment and selection to ensure an open, fair and just process.
Open and Transparent Government
12. In reflection of the openness and inclusiveness of the current-term Government and to address the aspirations of some media bodies, the Information Services Department has introduced a mechanism for the admission of online-only mass news media to government media events. I now announce that we will re-open the East Wing Forecourt of the Central Government Offices (CGO) as soon as possible before the end of this year, so that the East Wing Forecourt will resume its functions as a vehicular access to the CGO, a passenger pick-up/drop-off point for the CGO and a passageway for visitors and staff of the CGO and the Legislative Council Complex. Besides, we will resume the arrangement for members of the public to make applications for holding public meetings or processions at the East Wing Forecourt on Sundays and public holidays. Relevant departments are making preparation for the re-opening of the East Wing Forecourt and details will be announced later. I appreciate that we need to keep up our efforts in order to fully realise the design concept of “Door always open; Land always green; Sky will be blue; People will be connected” of the CGO.
Boosting Implementation Capabilities
Augmenting the civil service establishment
13. In view of the increasing workload across all ranks of the civil service in recent years, I will ask the Heads of Departments to reduce the demand for manpower by streamlining administration, fostering innovation and collaboration, and leveraging technologies. In order to ease the work pressure on civil servants as soon as possible and to support the Government in taking forward various new policies and initiatives, we will, as a first step, augment the civil service establishment. We expect an establishment growth of not less than 3% in the 2018-19 financial year, which will represent the highest year-on-year increase since our return to the Motherland. Relevant details will be announced in the 2018-19 Budget.
Extending the service of civil servants
14. On the other hand, to tie in with the goal of expanding the labour force and to respond to the aspirations of our serving colleagues in the civil service, we have re-examined the issue and agreed that serving civil servants joining the Government between 1 June 2000 and 31 May 2015 (i.e. the effective date of the policy of extending the retirement age of new recruits) will be allowed to choose to retire at 65 (for civilian grades) or 60 (for disciplined services grades) on a voluntary basis. The Civil Service Bureau is working out the details and plans to consult the staff side in early 2018.
Establishing a new civil service college
15. Our civil service is well-known for its professionalism and high efficiency. We must, nevertheless, continue to strive for excellence through enhanced training. The civil service must be forward-looking, visionary as well as innovative in order to tackle different challenges and deliver outstanding performance in the Government’s roles as a “service provider”, “regulator”, “facilitator” and “promoter”. I propose to establish a new civil service college with upgraded training facilities so as to further enhance training for civil servants in the areas of leadership development, interaction and communication with the public, innovation, use of technology, etc. The new civil service college should also place emphasis on deepening civil servants’ understanding of our country’s development and the relationship between the Central Authorities and the HKSAR, enhancing their awareness of international affairs, as well as promoting exchanges with civil servants in other places, through which knowledge, experience and insights gained from local public service management could be shared.
Stepping up Collaboration Across Bureaux and Departments
Revamping the Central Policy Unit
16. To tie in with the Government’s new role as a “facilitator”, I will revamp the Central Policy Unit as the Policy Innovation and Co-ordination Unit. The new office will be responsible for policy research and innovation, co-ordination across bureaux and departments, enhancing public participation as well as rendering assistance in co-ordination work for cross-bureaux policies selected by the senior leadership of the Government. We will soon start the recruitment of young people who aspire to be engaged in policy research as well as policy and project co-ordination to join the Policy Innovation and Co-ordination Unit proposed to be established as non-civil service contract staff so that they could make a contribution in shaping the future Hong Kong.
Transferring the Efficiency Unit to the Innovation and Technology Bureau
17. With its team of professionals and network of external partners, the Efficiency Unit (EU) has been supporting bureaux and departments in enhancing operational efficiency and providing improved public services. In future, it will become increasingly important to achieving this goal through the application of innovative technology. In view of this, I propose transferring the EU from the Chief Secretary for Administration’s Office (CSO) to the Innovation and Technology Bureau (ITB) so that we could build a stronger team and make better use of the $500 million earmarked for technology application in departments to further promote innovation and technology development within the Government.
Legal Aid Department to come under the Chief Secretary for Administration’s Office
18. In view of the above restructuring of the Government, we will implement the Legal Aid Services Council’s earlier proposal to transfer the Legal Aid Department from the HAB to the CSO to underline the independence of the legal aid system. As for the restructuring proposals put forward by stakeholders of other sectors, such as the establishment of a Culture Bureau, the splitting of the Transport and Housing Bureau, etc., we will further listen to the views of different sectors.
19. The rule of law is the most important core value of Hong Kong, and judicial independence is the linchpin in upholding the rule of law. During the past few months, the Hong Kong courts’ decision on certain cases have sparked some negative comments on judicial independence, with some casting doubts about our courts’ freedom from external interference. I must solemnly point out that the Basic Law clearly stipulates that the HKSAR enjoys independent judicial power, including that of final adjudication, and that our courts shall exercise judicial power independently, free from any interference. The Court of Final Appeal is the highest appellate court in the HKSAR, consisting of the Chief Justice and permanent judges. Non-permanent judges from other common law jurisdictions may also be invited to sit on the court. Since 1 July 1997, the Court of Final Appeal has been, pursuant to Article 82 of the Basic Law, inviting judges with profound judicial experience and high professional status and reputation from other common law jurisdictions to take part in its hearings. This unique arrangement is the very manifestation that under the protection of the Basic Law, the judicial system of Hong Kong has won international recognition. The high quality and independence of the judicial system in Hong Kong is most precious. We are fully confident that the courts will impartially exercise their judicial power. The HKSAR Government will continue to steadfastly safeguard judicial independence, and discharge its roles in upholding the Basic Law and defending the rule of law.
20. The Government has all along been providing sufficient resources to the Judiciary to ensure its effective operation. During the past seven financial years, the Government has acceded to the Judiciary’s requests for funding and post creation in full. To attract top talent to join the Judiciary, the Government has also adopted all the specific measures proposed by the Judiciary to enhance the conditions of service for judges and judicial officers. Moreover, the Government spares no effort in improving court facilities. We have reached consensus with the Judiciary on the relocation of the High Court Building, which is now in very congested conditions, to Site 5 of the new Central Harbourfront (i.e. adjacent to the Legislative Council Complex) and the construction of a District Court Complex at Caroline Hill Road to house the District Court, the Family Court and the Lands Tribunal. Costing over $20 billion, these projects will fully address the long-term accommodation needs of courts at various levels.
Law Reform Commission
21. In the context of upholding the rule of law, the Law Reform Commission of Hong Kong (LRC) plays a key role in promoting effective law reform. To enhance the efficiency and operation of the LRC, the Department of Justice (DoJ) is studying the experience of law reform agencies in other jurisdictions with a view to exploring different options for enhancing the operation model for the LRC.
22. Accountability and transparency are of vital importance to good governance. As pointed out in my Election Manifesto, I attach importance to the integrity of government records and hold a positive view towards the enactment of archives legislations. The LRC is studying our existing records management system and the relevant experience of other jurisdictions, and will conduct extensive consultation on its proposals. The Government will follow up on this subject after receiving the report from the LRC. In the meantime, the Government will continue to enhance its records management work.
Legislating for Article 23 of the Basic Law
23. It is the constitutional responsibility of the HKSAR Government to legislate for Article 23 of the Basic Law in order to safeguard national security. From experience, this issue will very readily generate controversies in the community. The current-term Government must act prudently after weighing the pros and cons, and seek to create a favourable social environment for the community to handle this constitutional obligation of the HKSAR in a positive manner.
Article 45 of the Basic Law: Selection of the Chief Executive by Universal Suffrage
24. Regrettably, after spending 20 months on the political reform package, the “political reform trio” led by me in the last term of Government was unable to secure the selection of the Chief Executive by universal suffrage through “One Person, One Vote”. The unlawful “Occupy Central” movement launched by some people has led to social conflicts and seriously affected the economic and social development of Hong Kong. As a responsible Chief Executive returned by election, I fully understand the aspirations of the community, in particular our young generation, for universal suffrage. Yet, we cannot ignore the reality and rashly embark on political reform once again. During my term of office, I will do my best to work towards creating a favourable social atmosphere for taking forward political reform within the framework of the “831 Decision” of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress.
25. The Basic Law stipulates the respective responsibilities of the executive authorities and the legislature of the HKSAR. While the Government fully respects the functions of the Legislative Council (LegCo) to exercise checks and balances on the executive authorities, we hope that through co-operation, we can reach consensus on issues that are controversial and yet strategically important for the long-term development of Hong Kong. Before assuming office, I had started communicating actively with LegCo Members from different political parties and groups, and consulting them on how to make the best use of the new resources for education. The additional recurrent funding of $3.6 billion for quality education was approved smoothly by the LegCo Finance Committee two weeks after it was proposed by the Government. This demonstrates that good communication is the basis for co-operation between the executive authorities and the legislature. I am confident that with the overall interests of Hong Kong as our common goal, we can discuss, decide and proceed together.
26. In the past three months, I have demonstrated through action that I attach great importance to improving the relationship between the executive authorities and the legislature. Accepting the suggestion of LegCo Members, I have reverted to the practice of delivering the Policy Address at the first meeting of the legislative session. I also responded positively to the request of the LegCo Committee on Rules of Procedure to increase the frequency of the Chief Executive’s Question and Answer Sessions. I will continue to set an example and lead my political team to build an interactive platform for communication and co-operation with the LegCo.
27. On district administration, we will adopt a “bottom-up” approach and propose improvement measures after listening to the views of the District Councils and local communities regarding their long-standing concerns. In this connection, the Government has already implemented a series of improvement measures through co-ordination across relevant departments under the Steering Committee on District Administration. These include:
- increasing the cleaning frequency: cleaning hygiene blackspots in all districts more frequently, and conducting large-scale clean-up operations regularly at coastal areas and typhoon shelters;
- stepping up law enforcement: stepping up inter-departmental collaboration and law enforcement effort with regard to blackspots of littering, illegal dumping, illegal parking of bicycles and shop-front extensions in the districts;
- using automation to enhance efficiency: exploring the introduction of automated cleaning machines or technology for trial use at suitable venues or after large-scale events;
- making good use of idle sites in various districts: opening up and landscaping undeveloped government sites for leisure and recreational purposes as far as possible in accordance with the recommendations of the District Councils, or allocating such sites for use by non-governmental organisations or arts groups; and
- stepping up publicity and public education efforts: stepping up collaboration with the District Councils and encouraging local personalities to participate in public education and publicity activities, to educate the public to keep our city clean and protect the environment at source.
28. Good building management is also conducive to improving the living environment, promoting community building and fostering social harmony. To assist owners in proper building management and to address public concerns, we will implement multi-pronged initiatives, including the submission of proposed amendments to the Building Management Ordinance to the LegCo for deliberation; publishing new Codes of Practice to set out the best practices of building management; and launching the Building Management Dispute Resolution Service, to be steered by a retired judge, on a pilot basis to provide objective opinions on dispute cases.
29. Since its establishment in 1974, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has profoundly transformed Hong Kong from a city plagued with corruption to one of the least corrupt cities in the world. Internationally acclaimed, our citizens and businesses maintain high ethical standards and show zero tolerance towards graft. The achievements of the ICAC owe much to its adoption of a three-pronged approach, comprising law enforcement, corruption prevention and community education, as well as the unwavering dedication of its highly professional staff in fighting corruption on all fronts. Today, the ICAC remains independent in its operation. It is fearless, robust and effective in pursuing the corrupt, and continues to be held in high regard by both the local and international communities. The Commissioner of the ICAC will continue to call on major international ranking institutions to enhance their understanding of Hong Kong’s probity situation. On the enhancement of legislation, we will resolve as soon as possible those constitutional and legal issues pertinent to the amendment of the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance to extend the scope of sections 3 and 8 to cover the Chief Executive.
30. Sound public finance and optimal use of public resources are key to good governance. With years of practical experience in public finance, I fully appreciate the Basic Law’s requirement of keeping the expenditure within the limits of revenues and avoiding fiscal deficits as far as possible. But the fact is that the HKSAR Government last went into deficit in 2003-04. Taking into account the investment return previously injected into the Housing Reserve, we currently have a fiscal reserve in excess of $1,000 billion. We are well positioned to use our accumulated fiscal surpluses, which are wealth derived from the community, wisely to benefit the community. On the premise of ensuring the health of our public finance, I will adopt forward-looking and strategic financial management principles in making investment for Hong Kong and relieving our people’s burdens.
The Chief Executive’s Mission and Leadership
31. In the past three months, in my new capacity as Chief Executive, the honour as well as the immense responsibility of the office are most deeply felt. Some of the decisions cannot be delegated. Certain views must be stated in unequivocal terms. And some of the tasks have to be taken up by myself. What I find most encouraging and touching is the warm support I have received from numerous leaders in our community. Some of them have joined the Executive Council and various statutory bodies or advisory bodies, some have participated in outbound business delegations or summit meetings, and some have spoken in support of Hong Kong through their liaison with Mainland and overseas organisations. I will capitalise on this rich talent pool during my tenure in working on Hong Kong’s future.
The Chief Executive’s Council of Advisers on Innovation and Strategic Development
32. I will set up the Chief Executive’s Council of Advisers on Innovation and Strategic Development to replace the existing Economic Development Commission and the now defunct Commission on Strategic Development, both chaired by the Chief Executive. The Council, comprising leaders from various sectors, will contribute ideas on future innovation in Hong Kong and the strategic positioning of Hong Kong in the future global economy, guide future changes to maintain Hong Kong’s competitiveness in the global arena and enhance Hong Kong’s alignment with the development of our country. The new Policy Innovation and Co-ordination Unit will provide secretarial support for the Council and conduct evidence-based policy research in the light of the Council’s suggestions. This would strengthen the Government’s capability in policy formulation to meet Hong Kong’s development needs.
Steering Committee on Innovation and Technology
33. I will personally chair an internal Steering Committee on Innovation and Technology to take forward the development of innovation and technology in Hong Kong, and to steer collaboration and participation across bureaux and departments with effect from the most senior level. I will also ensure that the resources requirement will be met in a timely manner.
Chief Executive Summits
34. While inviting the Chief Secretary for Administration and the Financial Secretary respectively to lead other important policy areas, I will chair the annual Chief Executive Summits to be apprised of the outcome of efforts made in various policy areas and to listen to further views from stakeholders. The subjects initially proposed for the summits include youth development, quality education, poverty alleviation, and innovation and technology. I will also attend the “Summit on the New Directions for Taxation” to be held late this month to gauge the views from all sectors in formulating forward-looking tax policies and measures.