Who's who in HK's elite
12th April 2010
In the latest addition to the Webb-site Database, we are now launching a
who's who of Hong Kong Government statutory and advisory bodies (SABs).
For more than a decade, we have been privately tracking them through the
Government Gazette (online since 19-May-2000) and by monitoring
Releases (online since 1-Jul-1997). This is in addition to our database of
HK-listed company directors.
There are several hundred such bodies. Statutory
bodies are created by law, such as
the Housing Authority or the Hospital Authority, while
advisory bodies and others have just been
informally created by past and present governments, sometimes on a permanent
basis and sometimes as a short-term reaction to an event, such as the Panel of Inquiry on the
Penny Stocks Incident. The Webb-site Database also includes all District Council
members since 1999, Legislative Council members, as well as all the members of
the Election Committee which elects Hong Kong's Chief Executive, since formation
in 1996. These can all be found in the
governmental bodies category. We also include all the
Bauhinia Awards since they were introduced.
All 4 new categories can be found in our main Database
page. When looking at any organisation, you can click on the "hide history"
button to look at current members, and click on the "overlaps" button to see how
the organisation overlaps with others in its membership.
The Government has a practice, often honoured in the breach, of limiting
people to 6 concurrent appointments and for not more than 6 years in each seat.
In practice it gets around this by re-setting the clock, promoting someone from
"Member" to "Deputy Chairman" or "Chairman" of a committee. It regards this as a
fresh appointment. Presumably the purpose of the 6-year rule is to bring fresh
minds and ideas into SABs and also, for those which have economic power, such as
the Town Planning Board, to guard against the risk of corruption. It's the same
reason why banks move their officers around from branch to branch every few
years. It seems inconsistent with both the freshness and anti-corruption objectives
to allow someone to progress to the highest position in a committee after 6
years, where they are even more influential than they were as a member and could
preside for another 6 years.
We've also noticed that people the Government can trust are in such short
supply that as soon as they lose one of their 6 positions by term-expiry, they
get appointed to another body instead. Some of these are paid positions, and
some are held by barristers who also get paid to represent the Government in
court cases, while some are held by people whose accounting firm, law firm or consulting firm
earns fees from the Government.
Occasionally we have noted that the Government has replaced an expiring
member, who has served a full term, with a close relative, without acknowledging
that fact. For example, in the Women's
Commission, when Ophelia Cheung
Look-ping's term expired on 15-Jan-2007, her daughter
Ayesha Macpherson was
appointed on the same day. She's also a member of the
ICAC Advisory Committee on Corruption,
which perhaps should give some advice against creating the appearance of family
succession in government appointments.
Similarly, when Legislator for Textiles
Sophie Leung Lau Yau-fun's term on
the Textiles Advisory Board expired
on 1-Apr-2007, her husband Brian Leung
Hung Tak was
appointed on the same day. Both are directors of Bay Apparel Ltd. On the
same body, Willy Lin Sun-mo left on 1-Apr-08 after 7 years, and on the same day,
Helen Lin Sun was appointed. Both are directors of family-owned
Milo's Knitwear (International) Ltd.
This morning, by coincidence, the South China Morning Post ran a
story about the number of directors of property developers who sit on SABs,
suggesting that they account for 1% of all seats on SABs, and that these tend to
be the more economically important seats. That story is true as far as it goes -
you won't find a tycoon sitting on the Dogs and Cats Classification Board, for
example. But the SCMP is not even close to the scale of the overlap between big
business and SABs, because it didn't cover unlisted companies, and it didn't
cover management-level staff who are not on the main board. Most of all, it
didn't cover the overlap between big business and the Election Committee who
elect our Dear Leader in the first place.
In our database, we try to connect the members of SABs and Governmental
bodies to their employers, whether as directors or not, and whether listed on
the stock exchange or not. Hopefully, journalists, lobbyists and academic
researchers will find our database helpful in connecting the dots that make up
Hong Kong's small circles and seeing the overlaps between those circles.
If your organisation is important, put it in the database
Finally, a request for help - if your organisation is not a listed company
or SAB, (for example, a charity, NGO or private company) then please help us keep our
database up to date by sending us a list of members of your governing body
(Board of Directors, Councillors, Governors or other). We need full names, preferably a
date of birth or year of birth, to avoid mistaken identities, and verifiable material, such as
a link to data on your own web site. If you
consider your organisation to be an important part of Hong Kong's community,
then it should be in the database. You can search for it in the "organisation"
box at the top of any page on Webb-site.com. We include a free link to your web site, so
that interested parties can find out more. Contact us here.
© Webb-site.com, 2010