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Public to have say on CE’s conduct

SCMP – March 5, 2012

The public will get their chance to have a say on rules governing the chief executive’s conduct, according the head of a panel with the task of reviewing the code.

Former chief justice Andrew Li Kwok-nang said on Monday the public would be able to attend an open forum on the issue, probably in the middle of next month, as well as make written submissions during the consultation period.

Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen appointed Li chairman of a five-member independent review panel last week to examine the rules for behaviour of top officials after a conflict-of-interest row erupted over Tsang’s favours from tycoon friends.

“I understand the public are concerned about the matter, and the panel will review the system as quickly as possible,” Li said.

He said the public consultation period would last for about four or five weeks but dates had not been set.

Li said the panel would also consider whether to extend the existing Prevention of Bribery Ordinance to cover the chief executive.

The chief executive is not subject to either the Civil Service Code or the Code for Officials Under the Political Appointment System, which covers bureau chiefs and undersecretaries.

Tsang said he developed his own “internal code” for taking favours from his tycoon friends, opting to pay “market price” for private yacht and jet trips.

But, the chief executive has refused to disclose documents or details relating to his personal code.

“We recognise that there is an opinion that the internal code is insufficient,” Li said.

“That is why the panel is working on a system for the next chief executive to stick to.

“A system is more important than individuals. We need a thorough system to safeguard the clean image of Hong Kong.”

When asked for details of the existing code, Li said he had not had time yet to go through the documents submitted to him.

“We will continue to collect more details,” he said.

Chief Justice Andrew Li Kwok-nang

Chief Justice Andrew Li Kwok-nang

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