Cheung aims for early role in policymaking
Newly appointed nono ff i c i a l E x e c u t i v e C o u n c i l (ExCo) member Horace Cheung Kwok-kwan hopes to participate in the government’s policy and decisionmaking processes much earlier after becoming a cabinet member.
Cheung is also vice-chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) and a lawmaker, having won the geographical seat in the Hong Kong Island constituency in last year’s Legislative Council elections, as well as a long-serving district council member.
In an interview with China Daily, explaining the rationale behind his decision to join the cabinet, he said he had learned that the government used to consult lawmakers only after it had introduced new policies and submitted papers to LegCo.
Although there were problems with potential policies, government officials used to say no changes could be made as time was pressing and project costs would rise if tenders were to be delayed, he said.
“This is unsatisfactory as it means lawmakers can only support the entire government proposal or reject it. Although the DAB supports the government in general, sometimes, there’s much to be desired, and yet we have to either support or oppose the government’s plan as a whole,” he revealed.
“Now, as an ExCo member, I can express my own views, as well as those of my party members and the district councils to the chief executive. If the government accepts our views, the less likely will the proposals encounter opposition in LegCo,” Cheung said.
“The CE has said she wants principal officials to discuss potential policy proposals with ExCo members before introducing new policies at a much earlier stage. Under these circumstances, I can tell the officials the pros and cons and whether the proposals are likely to be accepted by LegCo.”
Tw o D A B m e m b e r s — Cheung and Ip Kwok-him — are in the new ExCo. Asked if this is a favor to the party, Cheung explains that they play different roles. While Ip is a veteran politician with deep political ties in Hong Kong and on the C hinese mainland, Cheung said he’ ll reflect the views of the legislature and the middle class and explain government policies to the party caucus.
As the ExCo comprises lawmakers from all the proe s t a b l i s h m e n t p a r t i e s , i t ’s perceived they can help the government secure enough support or votes in LegCo. Cheung does not fully agree. “If government policies are sound, political parties will surely support them, but we’ ll find it difficult to support policies that are no good.”
Cheung said he is obliged to stand on the side of the government, bound by the E x C o’s c o l l e c t i v e r e s p o n - s i b i l i t y r u l e . “In c a s e t h e DAB opposes a government policy, I need to seek exemption from voting on it in line with the party’s stand. But, I hope this will not happen,” he added.
Cheung, who was a member of Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor ’s campaign team during the election, said his ExCo appointment is not a political reward, saying there were more campaign team members who had played bigger roles and should be rewarded.
Now, as an ExCo member, I can express my own views, as well as those of my party members and the district councils to the chief executive.”
Horace Cheung Kwok-kwan,