LegCo Paper No. 425/95-96
24th January 1996


(Letterhead of Democratic Party)

The Position Paper of LegCo Members of Democratic Party on monitoring the conduct of LegCo Members by members of Committee on Members’ Interest

I. Objective

According to the LegCo Paper CB296/ 95-96, Committee on Members’ Interest (CMI) should conduct a consultation with LegCo Members on monitoring the conduct of Members during the period between 15 December 1995 and 31 January 1996. The Paper represents the official stand of the Democratic Party on the proposal of CMI.

II. Background

In the Legco debate held on 19 July 1995 in which Hon. Miriam Lau proposed to amend section 60B of the Standing Orders, Michael Ho and Lee Wing-tat of the Democratic Party indicated the stand of the Party on monitoring the conduct of Legco Members. At that time, Democratic Party councillors objected to the CMI proposal. The new batch of Democratic Party Legco Councillors had held a new discussion on the subject and decided to maintain the old stand ie objecting to the amendment made to section 60B of the Standing Orders in order to change the CMI to the Committee on Members’ Interest and Conduct.

III. Democratic Party’s Stand

As a strategic principle, the Democratic Party does not think that it is necessary to set up a committee to handle complaints on Members’ conduct.

1) The existing monitoring mechanism

  1. Presently there are already strict stipulations in the Standing Orders that require Members to declare their interests. Any Member failing to observe any such requirements will be penalised.

  2. t the moment the Standing Orders already stipulate that the LegCo could by way of a resolution to set up a committee to investigate certain Member(s) who may have serious conduct problems;

  3. The new LegCo was returned by an election. We think that the LegCo is the most open and transparent public organization. The mass media should already have sufficient information to monitor its operation. If Members’ conduct cannot be accepted by the public, then they will have to face public criticism and pay the price of not being re-elected.

Therefore, we do not think that there is any major problem with the present monitoring mechanism.

2) The Proposal of CMI

a) Will investigation be abused?

Although the actual investigation is not to be conducted by CMI, an investigation recommendation could be made once it is passed by four members of the committee. We think this is a dangerous arrangement which could easily be abused. Suppose someone lodges a complaint against what has been said by a certain Member, with the agreement of four CMI’s members, an investigation recommendation could be made. This is not a prudent procedure.

Although an investigation may not necessarily lead to punishment for the Member concerned, but an investigation could have brought about considerable harm to him/her to an extent that his/her public image would be affected.

b) It’s difficult to judge a Member’s conduct

It’s controversial as to what constitute proper conduct and morality for LegCo Councillors. In a House Committee meeting last year, one of the Members had already asked what definition for "private interests" and "private issues", which proved to be difficult to define. If the definition is too abstract, it will not exercise any monitoring effects. If the definition is too stringent, it will create some unnecessary negative effects on Members.

In conclusion, Democratic Party thinks that it is not suitable at the present stage to implement the proposal of changing CMI into the Committee on Members’ Interest and Conduct.

Group of LegCo Members

of Democratic Party

Last Updated on 19 Jun, 1997