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Globalisation and the Governance of Hong Kong - page 10 / 28

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along with government

statutory corporations and other secretariat contains a range of

public policy

bodies deliver public services.

The

bureaux,

responsible

for

a

range

of

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

activities.

However,

it

is

the

SAR

government

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

below).

This behaviour was

1992,

‘who expected

these top-

and

to lobby the

legislature

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

10

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