Che­ung aims for early role in pol­i­cy­mak­ing

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - HK METRO - By JOSEPH LI in Hong Kong joseph@chi­nadai­lyhk.com

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,

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