along with government
statutory corporations and other secretariat contains a range of
bodies deliver public services.
activities. activity in Authority.
Some departments the SAR. Statutory Hong Kong has a
such as the corporations very limited
Housing Department are significant areas of include the Airport Authority and the Hospital system of local government. Until 1999, there
were two municipal councils (the Urban a very limited portfolio when compared
Council and the Regional Council), but these had to local authorities in the UK.4 District councils
came into established advisors to
effect from the 1st January 2000, which modified the district board scheme in 1982. Although the district councils are democratically elected, they act as the government on matters that affect the district (18 in total), and where they
are granted funding, they can make environmental
improvements or promote community that is the overwhelmingly dominant
political institution in Hong Kong.
The Political System
Hong Kong’s bureaucratic polity was retained following the reversal of sovereignty to China, and guaranteed under the Basic Law. In the Hong Kong government there are no ministers or a cabinet. An Executive Council dominates the policy process and the Basic Law specifies that the members shall be senior government officials, members of the Legislative Council (Legco), and other ‘public figures’ (Miners 1991: 82). The Executive Council usually listens to appeals or scrutinises new legislation and meets once a week. The members are appointees of the Chief Executive (or the Governors until 1997).5 However, the Executive Council appears to correspond to that of the British cabinet (Jones 1997: 53, Huque et al 1998: 19) whose members increasingly behaved like
ministers following the McKinsey reform of 1974 (see reinforced by the arrival of the last Governor, Patten, in rank officials to promote government policies openly
This behaviour was
to lobby the
3 4 See Harris (1988) and Scott (1989). These units of local administration in Hong Kong were abolished in 1999, with their areas of responsibilities being absorbed into the relevant policy bureaux of the Hong Kong Civil Service. The g o v e r n m e n t a r g u e d f o r t h e r e f o r m o n t h e g r o u n d s o f e f f i c i e n c y a n d c o - o r d i n a t i o n . The governor was ‘no more than a Prime Minister’ (Jones 1997: 53). 5