LCQ21: Appointments of non-official members to advisory and statutory bodies
Following is a question by the Hon Kenneth Leung and a written reply by the Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Tsang Tak-sing, in the Legislative Council today (January 22):
Recently, a member of the Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC) was not re-appointed by the Chief Executive at expiry of his tenure of office and the authorities did not give any explanation publicly. The member concerned served on IPCC for a period of four years only, which has not reached the usual upper limit of six years on the tenure of office of non-official members of advisory and statutory bodies (ASBs). It has been reported that the decision not to re-appoint that member involved political reasons and was related to Ms Kao Ching-chi (Ms Kao), a full-time member of the Central Policy Unit (CPU). Moreover, at a meeting of a Panel of the Legislative Council held on November 19, 2012, the Head of CPU indicated that Ms Kao was tasked to assist CPU in tendering more systematic advice to the relevant bureaux and government departments (B/Ds) on matters relating to the appointment of suitable candidates to the public offices of ASBs (appointment matters). In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the existing criteria and procedure for appointment matters; whether the authorities have drawn up guidelines for issues concerning the selection mechanism, criteria and integrity checking, etc.; if so, of the details;
(2) of the number of appointments made by the Government in each of the past five years; the number of members, apart from those who had indicated their wish of not seeking re-appointment, who had served for less than six years and were not re-appointed by the Government, with a breakdown by name of ASBs;
(3) given that the Home Affairs Bureau has set up a centralised database of members of the public who are willing to take up public offices, from which bureaux and departments may retrieve the information as reference in considering appointment matters, of the number of times that CPU or its members conducted inspection of such information in the past five years;
(4) of the B/Ds to which advice on appointment matters has been tendered by CPU since the incumbent Chief Executive took office and whether such advice has been accepted; whether Ms Kao has been engaged in tendering such advice (with details set out in the table below); and
|B/D||Public office of the ASB concerned||Whether the advice of CPU has been accepted||Whether Ms Kao was engaged in providing the advice|
(5) whether B/Ds are required to give an account of the reasons to CPU when their appointment decisions are in variance with the advice of CPU; if so, of the reasons, and the number of occasions of B/Ds giving such an account since the incumbent Chief Executive took office?
My reply to the question of the Hon Kenneth Leung is as follows:
(1) The Government makes appointments of non-official members to advisory and statutory bodies (ASBs) on the basis of the merit of individuals concerned. When appointing members to serve on the ASBs under their purview, bureaux and departments (B/Ds) take into account a candidate’s ability, expertise, experience, integrity and commitment to public service, with due regard to the functions and nature of business of the ASBs as well as the statutory requirements for statutory bodies.
In upholding the principle of appointment by merit, B/Ds observe, as far as possible, the “six-year rule” (i.e. not appointing a non-official member to serve on the same body in any one capacity for more than six years) and “six-board rule” (i.e. not appointing a person to serve as a non-official member on more than six ASBs at any one time) to ensure a proper turnover of members of ASBs and the availability of more opportunities for members of the public to participate in public affairs through serving on these bodies. Moreover, the Home Affairs Bureau (HAB) has issued guidelines to B/Ds, reminding the appointing authorities of the 30 per cent gender benchmark and the importance of taking heed of this benchmark target.
(2) The number of non-official members appointed by the Government to ASBs in each of the past five years according to the information submitted by B/Ds is set out in the following table:
|Year||Number of non-official members appointed by the Government to ASBs*|
* Note: The above figures of non-official members appointed by the Government to ASBs include the non-official representatives nominated by specified professions or organisations.
As there is no established policy requiring that a non-official member of ASBs should serve an ASB for six years before being replaced by a new member, B/Ds do not keep statistics on the number of ASB non-official members whose years of appointment are less than six years, nor do they have information on the reasons concerned. This being the case, the HAB is unable to provide the relevant information.
(3) The Central Policy Unit (CPU) makes access to the information in the HAB’s centralised database from time to time in the light of operational needs. The CPU does not maintain the relevant statistics.
(4) The current-term government considers it important to cultivate and build up a reserve of talents so as to tie in with the future development of Hong Kong. To take this forward in a more systematic manner, the Chief Executive has requested the CPU to advise on the appointment of suitable candidates to ASBs. As stated by Head, CPU at the meeting of the Panel of Public Service under the Legislative Council on November 19, 2012, Full-time Member (3) of the CPU (with Ms Kao Ching-chi as incumbent) is tasked to strengthen the work of the CPU in building up a reserve of talents in various policy areas and recommending talents to the Government. Ms Kao is also responsible for assisting the CPU in providing more systematic advice to the relevant B/Ds on candidates suitable for appointment to ASBs.
Since July 2012, the CPU has advised on 155 appointments of candidates to ASBs, the majority of which involve replacement appointments upon the expiry of service, whereas some others are for identifying candidates for appointment to newly formed advisory bodies. In the light of the terms of reference, functions and roles of the relevant bodies, as well as the qualification requirements on the candidates, the CPU will offer advice to the authorities concerned on the appointment of suitable candidates for consideration and selection. The CPU does not have data on whether or not its advice or recommendations are accepted.
(5) The CPU only tenders advice or recommends candidates. The appointment procedures and ultimate recommendation of candidates remain a responsibility of the relevant bureaux, while the decision is made by the appointing authorities. The CPU has no authority to approve or veto appointments, nor are bureaux required to make explanations to the CPU.