The Hong Kong government is set to see a reorganisation that will add two policy bureaux to the existing 13 and dozens of new roles, a revamp that will come with a HK$95 million annual price tag.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam (front) with Principal Officials and members of the Executive Council. File photo: GovHK.

Incoming chief executive John Lee said during a press briefing on Tuesday that he hopes “relevant work” for the restructuring will be completed in mid-June. Lee will take the reins from incumbent leader Carrie Lam on July 1.

Under the revamp, the government will set up a bureau focused on culture, sports and tourism. The Home Affairs Bureau will become the Home and Youth Affairs Bureau, while the Transport and Housing Bureau will be split into the Housing Bureau and Transport and Logistics Bureau.

“This will allow the government to more precisely handle transport and housing issues, two very important matters that society is concerned with,” Lee said.

The reorganisation, he added, would make the government more effective.

John Lee: Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

Apart from the changes to bureaux, the government will also add a deputy position under each of the three highest-ranking posts under the chief executive – the chief secretary, the financial secretary and the justice secretary. Following the restructuring, the chief and financial secretaries will oversee nine and six bureaux, respectively.

Each deputy is expected to earn a monthly salary of HK$363,400.

‘Quite a big change’

Lam first announced plans for a government restructuring – which did not include the addition of new deputies – last October, when she gave the final policy address of her term.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam (front) with Principal Officials and members of the Executive Council on May 22, 2020. Photo: GovHK.

Sole non-establishment lawmaker Tik Chi-yuen told HKFP that the reorganisation was “quite a big change.”

“The yearly expenditure was HK$32 million [when Lam announced her proposal]. Now it’s HK$95 million,” he said.

Tik said he hoped that the government could set Key Performance Indicators for each bureau to hold them accountable and show Hongkongers that the reorganisation was justified.

“The government must tell us what indicators there are to show that this [restructuring] has raised effectiveness and coordination [after it takes place],” he said, adding that claims that it would improve the effectiveness of governance could not be made “so generally.”

Lawmaker Tik Chi-yuen. Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

Tik said, however, that he maintained an “open mind” regarding the changes.

A ‘long overdue’ reorganisation

Meanwhile, lawmaker Regina Ip told HKFP she believed the revamp was “long overdue.” She said the party she chaired, the New People’s Party, had put forth a reorganisation plan in 2011 proposing the addition of deputies for the chief secretary and the financial secretary.

“The chief secretary and financial secretary look after a large number of bureaus. They have to attend a lot of meetings, and the financial secretary also needs to sit on some corporate board meetings,” she said.

Her party did not propose a deputy for the justice secretary, but Ip said this “could be justified because the workload of the justice department has grown a lot.”

Regina Ip. Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

Lee said on Tuesday that he hoped the justice secretary and the deputy justice secretary could “explain in full the legal system in Hong Kong” because overseas politicians had been “bad-mouthing” the city’s rule of law.

On the expansion of the Home Affairs Bureau to the Home and Youth Affairs Bureau, Ip said she hoped the bureau could conduct polls to survey the concerns of young people and conduct discussions with youth across the political spectrum.

“The government has done a really poor job in connecting with young people,” she said.

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Hillary Leung

Hillary has an interest in social issues and politics. Previously, she reported on Asia broadly - including on Hong Kong's 2019 protests - for TIME Magazine and covered local news at Coconuts Hong Kong.