3rd Preliminary
Is the CE exempt from bribery laws?
《The Student Standard》Friday 15 March 2019
Text: Andrew Ho     Photos: Sing Tao Daily
Should sections three and eight of the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance (POBO) apply to the chief executive (CE)? Two teams dissected this highly technical motion in the latest round of Sing Tao’s inter-school debating competition

      THIS contest required an understanding of both the POBO and the exemption granted to the chief executive from sections three and eight.

      Section three of the POBO says that any ‘prescribed offi cer’ who, without the CE’s permission, solicits or accepts any advantage shall be guilty of an offence. And section eight says any person who, while dealing with a government department or public body, offers advantages to a ‘public servant’ shall also be guilty of an offence.

      In the third preliminary round of the Sing Tao Inter-School Debating Competition’s English Section, this debate focused on aspects of equality, accountability and public confi dence in relation to the motion.

      Both teams – Chan Sui Ki (La Salle) College as the affirmative and Diocesan Girls’ School as the opposition – did an excellent job framing the motion in their advantage and avoided making irrelevant statements.

On equality
      THE captain of the affirmative team, Larry Lau Yu-ka (劉 宇嘉), cast valid doubts on the status quo: “There is no genuine reason for the chief executive to be exempt from sections three and eight of the POBO.” He mentioned that the exempted sections are the most effi cient and effective in putting public servants under scrutiny.

      Captain of the opposition, Tania Chan (陳劭頤), rebutted: “Besides sections four, fi ve and ten of the POBO, the chief executive is subject to the regulation of bribery offences under the common law, and the offence of ‘misconduct in public offi ce’ under the common law also applies to CE.”

On accountability
      THE first speaker of the affirmative, Agustin Earl Joshua Goniales (嚴樹華), continued to press their argument: “The chief servant should practise the highest level of conduct and should also be subject to sections three and eight.” Later, the second speaker of the team, Christian Yuen Ka-hang (袁家恒), added, “Why should the CE be exempt from just these two sections?”

      The Diocesan team, meanwhile, calmly replied: “Section three is about public servants seeking the CE’s permission, and in this case, if you want to change the law, you need to seek the approval of the central government.” The first speaker of the opposition, Gwyneth Gunawan (阮朗蘋), said, “The target of section three is not the CE. If you make the CE accountable, whose permission should the CE seek?

On public confidence
      “THE public needs to see that even the CE is subject to the same rules,” Christian Yuen Ka-hang said. “Other than strengthening public confidence in the CE, it sets a better image for the entire workforce of public servants.”

      However, the opposition raised a valid counterargument: “Political opponents would use sections three and eight as political weapons to slander the CE, in turn harming public confidence in the CE,” second speaker of the Diocesan team Lee Cheuk-lam (李卓藍) explained. “The CE needs to declare his or her assets and is also subjected to the tight anticorruption measures stipulated in the Basic Law as well as o t h e r sections of the POBO. Sections three and eight will only provide a new way for political opponents to fi libuster in Legco.”

Winner : Chan Sui Ki (La Salle) College

dissect (v) 剖析
status quo (n phr) 現狀
exempt (v) 豁免
scrutiny (n) 仔細審查
slander (v) 誹謗
Vocabulary filibuster (v) 拉布 (議會)

L-R: Chan Sui Ki (La Salle) College second speaker Christian Yuen Ka-hang, fi rst speaker Agustin Earl Joshua Goniales and captain Larry Lau Yu-ka represented the affirmative team.

L-R: Diocesan Girls’ School captain Tania Chan, fi rst speaker Gwyneth Gunawan and second speaker Lee Cheuk-lam.