The Dynamics of Executive-Legislative Discord in Hong Kong: Conflict, Confrontation and Adaptation

Full Text of the Paper

Professor Sonny S.H. Lo
The Hong Kong Institute of Education

Mr. Dennis Ka-Kuen Leung
The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Abstract

Executive-legislative relations in Hong Kong have been transformed from harmony during the British colonial era to a far more conflict-ridden and confrontational mode after the handover of the British territory to the People’s Republic of China on July 1, 1997. The conflict-ridden relations between the executive branch of the government and the legislature have worsened since the introduction of more directly elected members to the Legislative Council. The confrontational relationships have been compounded by the mutual distrust between the government and the pan-democratic forces, and between the pro-establishment camp and the pan-democratic front. Exacerbating the political impasse is the partially reformed political system in Hong Kong, where the Executive Council is filled with pro-establishment elites without co-opting a few directly elected democrats. As a result of the politics of exclusion and the patronage nature of the political appointees system that was introduced into Hong Kong in July 2002. The media criticisms of the personal integrity and performance of a few appointees have delegitimized the Hong Kong administration under the leadership of the new Chief Executive C. Y. Leung. Without a more drastic overhaul of the Hong Kong political system, especially in the form of appointing representatives of the pan-democratic camp into the top-policy Executive Council, executive-legislative relations are bound to be conflict-ridden, confrontational and controversial, albeit the government will continue to adapt to the politicized circumstances and respond to public demands in a more pluralistic manner.

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