Legislative Council Meeting – The Chief Executive’s Question and Answer Session

MR CHAN CHUN-YING (in Cantonese):

Chief Executive, first of all, congratulations on your assumption of office as the head of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (“SAR”).   I hope that under your leadership, the Hong Kong economy and people’s livelihood will achieve  sustainable development, society will become more harmonious, and members of the public can live in peace and work with contentment.   You are also welcome to attend more Legislative Council meetings, be it the Question and Answer Session being
conducted right now or communication with Members on policies. You may even dine with Members together.

Back to my question. In your election manifesto, you have proposed revamping the Central Policy Unit (“CPU”) completely into a policy and project co-ordination unit that fosters public participation in policy formulation and assists in cross-bureau and inter-departmental coordination.   Evaluations of the functions of CPU in the last-term Government vary in society. Can this significant change in the functions of CPU be interpreted as a relatively negative evaluation held by you of the functions of CPU in the last term?   Moreover, do you have any specific ideas and measures for fostering public participation in policy formulation?   When will they be put into practice?


CHIEF EXECUTIVE (in Cantonese):

I thank Mr CHAN for his question.

Every government organization will need to be reviewed afresh after a certain period of time, especially since I am an official who prefers innovation.   Hence, in respect of CPU which has already been established for 20 to 30 years, I think it is time to give it a fresh positioning and inject a new impetus into it so as to support the work of the current-term Government.

Here I will not comment on the work of CPU or different Heads of CPU in the past. As a matter of fact, however, Members may have noticed that regarding certain functions of CPU in the last-term Government, I have clearly and expressly indicated that the revamped CPU in the current term―this unit may even cease to be named the “Central Policy Unit”―will not have to continue to perform  these functions, especially in relation to personnel appointments. I think Members are already aware of this point.

The purpose of revamping CPU, as quoted from my manifesto by Mr CHAN just now, relates to policy formulation which has indeed become rather complicated now. Very often, it has to be conducted  with  an inter-departmental and cross-bureau approach with understanding and mutual accommodation. Certainly, under the usual circumstances, the two Secretaries of Departments will assume this role, but sometimes there are exceptional or special cases which require organization, coordination and supervision by the Chief Executive at a higher level.

As regards the work in the other aspects, now there are a lot of views in society.   I believe if the Legislative Council Members here have the time, they will also propose very creative items to me, but regrettably, there is no suitable counterpart. That means with which bureau or department should these items be raised for exploration and examination?   For this reason, the revamped CPU can play the role of the first stop and study the feasibility of these proposals with the sectors outside the Government.   This role is not something new.   In the past decade, when I served as the Secretary for Development, there was a small unit called the Development Opportunities Office; and when I served as the Chief Secretary for Administration, there was also a small unit called the Policy and
Project Coordination Unit. Hence, I just wish to continue to use these small units to play the role of coordinator in a focused manner.

This is roughly the schedule at the moment. I will definitely give an account of the revamping work to Members in a most open and transparent manner. I may  even need Members to endorse the revamped structure and establishment in the Finance Committee and its Establishment Subcommittee.   I will assign an Administrative Officer to be the team leader of the revamping work this month.   In the meanwhile, the post of Head of CPU will not be filled, and that Administrative Officer will conduct the revamp under my supervision. I hope the revamp proposal can be submitted to a panel of the Legislative Council for discussion at the end of the year to seek passage early next year so that a newly revamped CPU will assist the SAR Government in handling its affairs onward from 1 April next year.


MR CHAN CHUN-YING (in Cantonese):

Chief Executive, as you have disclosed to the media, the revamped CPU will bring on board young people from different sectors as full-time contract staff.   They will be responsible for policy research and will also collect the views of the general public, particularly young people, so that the Government can absorb public views and make corresponding adjustments earlier in policy formulation.   However, according to the definition of the World Health Organization, young people are those aged below 44. According to the definition of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, they are aged between 16 and 45, whereas according to that of the Hong Kong Government, they are aged between 15 and 24. If the Hong Kong Government’s definition of young people applies, CPU will employ a group of policy researchers aged below 24 to be responsible for the Government’s policy research. Apart from being aged below 24, is there any other job requirement for this group of researchers to ensure that they can really provide appropriate advice on different policy areas?


CHIEF EXECUTIVE (in Cantonese):

First of all, I will not adopt the definitions in terms of age mentioned just now to bind the future CPU to recruit 20 to 30 young people of this age group to participate in the work relating to policy formulation.   In fact, there may not be any need to especially set the upper or lower age limit, but we will study this point later.   I have two purposes in letting young people join the Government.   The first one is to give them the opportunity of learning first hand how policies are formulated, since I believe that young people who aspire  to taking  up this job are enthusiastic about serving the
community. They may even wish to run in elections to become Legislative Council Members or District Council members in the future like the Honourable Members here.   For this reason, I think it will be good to them if they can have this kind of experience in the early stage of political grooming.

On the other hand, this approach allows us to be better able to hear the voices of young people in the course of policy formulation at the higher level because they will meet the Secretaries of Departments, Directors of Bureaux or me in CPU and can directly relay their views to us.   Hence, the job requirement is that they must be dedicated, capable and committed regardless of political affiliation.   So, I call on the Honourable Members here to encourage the young members in their political parties and groupings, if there are any, to apply for these posts when the recruitment advertisements are put up in future.