Executive Council of Hong Kong

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The Executive Council of Hong Kong (Chinese: 行政會議; Chinese name before the transfer of sovereignty: 行政局) is a formal body of advisers to the Chief Executive of Hong Kong that serves as a core policy-making organ of the Government of Hong Kong.[1] It is analogous to a cabinet or to other executive councils in the Commonwealth such as the Federal Executive Council of Australia, the Executive Council of New Zealand, and the Privy Council of the United Kingdom.

The Executive Council exists to "advise" the Chief Executive in policy-making and the administration of the government. The Chief Executive acting after consultation with the Executive Council is known as the Chief Executive in Council.[2] The Chief Executive in Council introduces bills to the Legislative Council and issue instruments known as Orders in Council, which amongst other things are used to make delegated legislation, and regulate certain public institutions. The Chief Executive in Council also hears appeals and objections under certain Ordinances.[3]

Under the presidency of the Chief Executive, the Executive Council consists of 16 Official Members (the most senior of these being the Chief Secretary of Hong Kong, head of the Government Secretariat and chair of the Policy Committee), and 14 Non-official Members (normally including leading lawmakers from pro-establishment political parties). The Council normally meets once a week. Unlike the British and Canadian Councils, legislators from the opposition are not appointed to the Executive Council.


The Executive Council was set up by the British Hong Kong Government. The first ex officio members were the Colonial Secretary and the Colonial Treasurer in the 1840s. The Attorney General was added in the 1850s. In 1949, the Executive Council had five ex officio members: the senior military officer (Commander of British Forces Overseas), the colonial secretary, the attorney general, the secretary for Chinese affairs and the financial secretary; the Commissioner of Labour, while an 'official' was not an ex officio member. In addition, there were six 'unofficial members': the chief manager of the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, the Tai-Pan of Jardine's, a solicitor, two barristers, and a physician.[4]

In 1994 the title 'Senior Member' or 'Senior Unofficial Member' was changed to 'Convenor', when Lydia Dunn was succeeded in the post by Rosanna Wong.[5]

The format of the Executive Council was retained after the transfer of sovereignty in 1997 until a ministerial system (named Principal Officials Accountability System or POAS) was introduced in 2002, Tung Chee Hwa's second term of office. Since then all secretaries are political appointees and have to leave the civil service. All secretaries are appointed to the council, transforming the council effectively into a cabinet. Non-official members are minorities in the council, and are like ministers-without-portfolio. The position of convenor was abolished.

In fulfilling his election platform, Chief Executive Sir Donald Tsang appointed eight new non-official members the day after delivering his first policy address on 12 October 2005. Secretaries of bureaux would sit in meetings of the Council when the agenda was related to their portfolio, and the position of convenor was restored. It was presented as a move to re-strengthen the role of the Council as a link with the community.

Change in composition

Year Number of
Official Members
exclusive of the Chief Executive
Number of
Unofficial Members
1997 3 11
2002 14 5
2004 14 7
2005 14 15
2007 15 16
2008 15 15
2009 15 16
2012 15 14
2012 15 16
2013 15 14
2015 15 15
2015 16 14
2015 16 16


The members of Executive Council are appointed by the Chief Executive from among principal officials (heads of department, informally called "ministers"), members of Legislative Council, and public figures. Their appointment and removal is decided by the Chief Executive. There is no fixed term of office, but the term of office of members cannot extend beyond the expiry of that of the Chief Executive who appoints them (Article 55 of the Basic Law).

The Council is presided over by the Chief Executive. In addition to the 16 principal officials there are 14 Unofficial members. Other than the Chief Secretary, Financial Secretary and Secretary for Justice, official members only sit in meetings that are related to their portfolio.

The following list includes all members of the Executive Council in the order of precedence:

Capacity Members Affiliation Portfolio Assumed Office Born In Ref
President Leung, CYCY Leung Nonpartisan Chief Executive 1 July 2012 1958 [6]
Official Lam, CarrieCarrie Lam Nonpartisan Chief Secretary for Administration 1 July 2012 1957
Official Tsang, JohnJohn Tsang Nonpartisan Financial Secretary 1 July 2007 1951 [7]
Official Yuen, RimskyRimsky Yuen Nonpartisan Secretary for Justice 1 July 2012 1964
Unofficial Convenor Lam, Woon-kwongLam Woon-kwong Nonpartisan 1 July 2012 1951 [8]
Unofficial Cheng, Yiu-tongCheng Yiu-tong FTU 1 July 2002 1951 [9]
Unofficial Cha, LauraLaura Cha Nonpartisan 19 October 2004 1949 [10]
Official Cheung, AnthonyAnthony Cheung Nonpartisan Secretary for Transport and Housing 1 July 2012 1952
Official Cheung, MatthewMatthew Cheung Nonpartisan Secretary for Labour and Welfare 1 July 2007 1951
Official Chan, KCKC Chan Nonpartisan Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury 1 July 2007 1957 [11]
Unofficial Wu, AnnaAnna Wu Nonpartisan 21 January 2009 1951 [12]
Official So, GregoryGregory So DAB Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development 28 June 2011 1959
Official Tam, RaymondRaymond Tam Nonpartisan Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs 30 September 2011 1959
Unofficial Li, ArthurArthur Li Nonpartisan 1 July 2012 1945 [13]
Unofficial Liao, AndrewAndrew Liao Nonpartisan 1 July 2012 1949 [14]
Unofficial Chow, Chung-kongChow Chung-kong Nonpartisan 1 July 2012 1950 [15]
Official Lai, Tung-kwokLai Tung-kwok Nonpartisan Secretary for Security 1 July 2012 1952
Unofficial Cheung, Hok-mingCheung Hok-ming DAB 1 July 2012 1952 [16]
Official Ng, EddieEddie Ng Nonpartisan Secretary for Education 1 July 2012 1953
Unofficial Law, FannyFanny Law Nonpartisan 1 July 2012 1953 [17]
Official Ko, Wing-manKo Wing-man Nonpartisan Secretary for Food and Health 1 July 2012 1957
Unofficial Cheung, Chi-kongCheung Chi-kong Nonpartisan 1 July 2012 1953 [18]
Official Wong, Kam-singWong Kam-sing Nonpartisan Secretary for the Environment 1 July 2012 1963 [19]
Unofficial Chan, BernardBernard Chan Nonpartisan 1 July 2012 1965
Official Chan, PaulPaul Chan Nonpartisan Secretary for Development 30 July 2012 1955
Unofficial Ip, ReginaRegina Ip NPP 17 October 2012 1950
Unofficial Lam, JeffreyJeffrey Lam BPA 17 October 2012 1951
Official Yang, NicholasNicholas Yang Nonpartisan Secretary for Innovation and Technology 2 March 2015 1955
Official Kong-wah, LauLau Kong-wah DAB Secretary for Home Affairs 21 July 2015 1957
Official Cheung, ClementClement Cheung Nonpartisan Secretary for the Civil Service 21 July 2015 1962
Unofficial Kwok-him, IpIp Kwok-him DAB 17 March 2016 1951
Unofficial Cheung, TommyTommy Cheung Liberal 25 November 2016 1949
Unofficial Liao, MartinMartin Liao Nonpartisan 25 November 2016 1957


List of the past Executive Councils


The Executive Council meets in the Lower Block of the Central Government Complex, Tamar. Until 2012, Exco met in the Main Wing of the Central Government Offices on Government Hill, in Central and below Government House (former residence of the British Governor of Hong Kong).

Prior to the handover, the Provisional Executive Council of Hong Kong, headed by Tung Chee Hwa, met in Shenzhen or Tung's office on the 11th floor of the Asia Pacific Finance Tower in Hong Kong. Members of the outgoing British Hong Kong ExCo were not permitted to attend this body.

Both Executive Council sittings were on Tuesdays.

See also


  1. Article 54, Hong Kong Basic Law
  2. Section 3, Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance (Cap. 1).
  3. Section 64, Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance (Cap. 1).
  4. Ingrams, Harold, Hong Kong (Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London: 1952), p. 231.
  5. Hong Kong's Journey to Reunification - Memoirs of Sze-yuen Chung, p307, Chinese University Press, 2001, ISBN 962-996-002-8
  6. "Chief Executive – Biography". Government of Hong Kong. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  7. "Mr John Tsang Chun-wah, GBM, JP, Financial Secretary". Government of Hong Kong. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  8. "The Honourable LAM Woon-kwong, GBS, JP". Executive Council of Hong Kong. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  9. "The Honourable CHENG Yiu-tong, GBS, JP". Executive Council of Hong Kong. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  10. "The Honourable Mrs Laura CHA SHIH May-lung, GBS, JP". Executive Council of Hong Kong. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  11. "Professor K C Chan, GBS, JP, Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury". Government of Hong Kong. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  12. "The Honourable Anna WU Hung-yuk, GBS, JP". Executive Council of Hong Kong. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  13. "Professor the Honourable Arthur LI Kwok-cheung, GBS, JP". Executive Council of Hong Kong. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  14. "The Honourable Andrew LIAO Cheung-sing, GBS, SC, JP". Executive Council of Hong Kong. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  15. "The Honourable CHOW Chung-kong". Executive Council of Hong Kong. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  16. "The Honourable CHEUNG Hok-ming, GBS, JP". Executive Council of Hong Kong. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  17. "The Honourable Mrs Fanny LAW FAN Chiu-fun, GBS, JP". Executive Council of Hong Kong. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  18. "The Honourable CHEUNG Chi-kong, BBS". Executive Council of Hong Kong. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  19. "Mr Wong Kam-sing, JP, Secretary for the Environment". Government of Hong Kong. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  20. ExCo membership announced, 29 June 2012, HK Information Services Department
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