Towards a ministerial system in Hong Kong : an exploratory study

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Towards a ministerial system in Hong Kong : an exploratory study


Author: Tang, Meng Liza
Title: Towards a ministerial system in Hong Kong : an exploratory study
Degree: M.Sc.
Year: 2001
Subject: Public administration -- China -- Hong Kong
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Multi-disciplinary Studies
Dept. of Management
Pages: vii, 111 leaves ; 30 cm
Language: English
InnoPac Record:
Abstract: This is an exploratory study which attempts to trace the evolution of the concept of ministerial system in Hong Kong and to examine the desirability and feasibility of introducing a ministerial system within the Hong Kong context. The operation of a ministerial system requires that the head of government acquires public mandate from the electorate directly or indirectly and appoints ministers to be directly responsible for specific policy portfolios. Through purposeful appointment or dismissal of ministers, the head of government is able to restore or gain the confidence of the people in the government. The political system of Hong Kong, however, does not operate in this way. Back in the colonial days, Hong Kong was basically an 'administrative state' whereby the Governor and the bureaucrats were appointed by the Queen. The civil servants had monopolised the policy making and implementation process and were immune from the influence of the legislature or political parties. Rarely it is the case for top government officials to shoulder political or personal responsibility for administrative or policy blunders. With Hong Kong becoming a SAR of the People's Republic of China, the colonial institutions have been preserved with a view to ensuring the continuity and stability of Hong Kong. Soon after the handover, it transpires that the colonial institutions have failed to cope with the new socio-economic and political developments of the post-colony and have resulted in a state of political incongruity. This is manifested in various political problems of friction between the CE, his policy advisors and top civil servants, tension between the executive and the legislature, a legitimacy crisis of the HKSAR Government, and lack of political accountability of the government. These pressing political problems have propelled the CE to look into a system of executive accountability for the top government officials and it is asserted that the adoption of a ministerial system will help to alleviate these problems. When compared with the colonial days, conducive factors for the implementation of a ministerial system are emerging in the HKSAR as evidenced by the development of a more mature political culture. As the political system of Hong Kong is more of resemblance to the American system which is based on the separation of executive, legislative and judicial powers, it seems that an American-style ministerial system is more feasible for adoption within the Hong Kong context. The successful implementation of a ministerial system in Hong Kong will further hinge upon the political review scheduled for 2007 which will examine the method of selection for the CE and for LegCo members. The former review will enhance the legitimacy of the CE's appointment which will in turn have an impact on the public mandate of the ministers appointed by the CE. The latter review will enhance the legitimacy and representativeness of LegCo, thereby empowering the LegCo to exercise effective checks and balances on the CE and the executive authorities. As Hong Kong lacks a well-developed party system to sustain the majority of the government and the legislature is characterised by small independent political parties, it may be useful to make reference to other models of ministerial system whereby there is no major political party in parliament and examine how the different views of political parties are accommodated. With the support of the civil service as well as the emergence of a more mature political culture and the development of political parties, it is asserted that there will be gradual, orderly and progressive changes towards the direction of "ministerialisation" in the HKSAR.

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