Veteran official Regina Ip appointed as convener of HK Exco meeting, sees ‘reopening borders’ as urgent task
Published: Jun 22, 2022 07:18 PM

Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, the chairperson of the New People's Party,meets the media. Photo:IC

Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, the chairperson of the New People's Party,meets the media. Photo:IC

The Office of the Chief Executive-elect was unveiled on Wednesday together with the list of the new Executive Council (Exco) meeting members, and among 16 non-official members, nine will continue serve the position and Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, the chairperson of the New People's Party, will serve as the convener of the meeting. The nomination is expected to take effect from July 1. 

Ip told the Global Times in an exclusive interview on Tuesday that the most urgent task for the new government is working on the issue of border reopening between the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong, as the COVID restrictions over the past two years have been heavily weighing on the social livelihoods and economy, pulling many families apart. "Reopening the border will boost the economy, and as our economy currently is supported by an abundant financial reserve, we need a long-term stimulus," she said. 

Ip will replace incumbent convener Bernard Charnwut Chan. Some new faces joined the Exco meeting including Stanley Ng Chau-pei, president of the Federation of Trade Unions, and Chan Kin-por, chairman of the Legislative Council's finance committee.

John Lee Ka-chiu, the new chief executive of the HKSAR, thanked 16 non-official members for taking the invitation for being the Exco members. "They have vast experience in different areas, which will help me make important decisions," Lee said. 

Under the Basic Law, the Exco is an organ for assisting the chief executive in policy-making. The Exco normally meets once a week and the CE presides over the meetings. Except for the appointment, removal and disciplining of officials and the adoption of measures in emergencies, the CE shall consult the Exco before making important policy decisions, introducing bills to the Legislative Council, making subordinate legislation, or dissolving the LegCo.

Just three days ago, the State Council, China's cabinet, approved the list of key officials proposed by the sixth-term chief executive for the HKSAR. Among 26 officials appointed by the central government, veteran official Eric Chan Kwok-ki will serve as the Chief Secretary while Paul Chan Mo-po will remain the Financial Secretary.

Ip said she felt encouraged by the new governing team as those newly appointed officials are expert professionals with different backgrounds, which will help the continuity of the policy with a relatively strong execution capability. 

As the border reopening tops the agenda of the government, Ip said,  a possible measure is to create a close loop between Hong Kong and the mainland and distribute the quotas for those who need to travel, like businessmen, who could be quarantined in Hong Kong. "Also, the HKSAR government should enhance the monitoring like what the mainland does, by asking those who need to travel to take frequent nucleic acid tests and to avoid the public transport, strictly following a close loop management," she said.  

The veteran official also believed that although the city has encountered some challenges due to  COVID, those are short-term difficulties. "We'll surely overcome the epidemic, and resume the normal interaction with the mainland and the international society one day," Ip said.