Executive Council of Hong Kong

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The Executive Council of Hong Kong (ExCo; 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 was 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 16 Non-official Members (normally including leading legislators from pro-establishment political parties) headed by the Convenor of the Non-official Members. 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[edit]

Year Number of
Official Members
exclusive of the
Chief Executive
Number of
Non-official 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
2016 16 16
2017 16 15
2017 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 16 Non-official 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:

  • Note: To avoid confusion, all the names on this list follow the Hong Kong convention (English name <if available>, family name, Chinese given name <if available>) for consistency.
Capacity Members Affiliation Portfolio Assumed Office Born In Ref
President Lam, CarrieCarrie Lam Nonpartisan Chief Executive 1 July 2017 1957 [6]
Official Cheung, MatthewMatthew Cheung Nonpartisan Chief Secretary for Administration 16 January 2017 1951
Official Chan, PaulPaul Chan Nonpartisan Financial Secretary 16 January 2017 1955
Official Yuen, RimskyRimsky Yuen Nonpartisan Secretary for Justice 1 July 2012 1964
Non-official Chan, BernardBernard Chan Nonpartisan Non-official Convenor of the Executive Council 1 July 2017 1965
Non-official Cha, LauraLaura Cha Nonpartisan Chairman of the Financial Services Development Council 19 October 2004 1949 [7]
Non-official Li, ArthurArthur Li Nonpartisan Chairman of the Council of the University of Hong Kong 1 July 2012 1945 [8]
Non-official Chow, Chung-kongChow Chung-kong Nonpartisan Chairman of the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing 1 July 2012 1950 [9]
Non-official Law, FannyFanny Law Nonpartisan Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks 1 July 2012 1953 [10]
Official Wong, Kam-singWong Kam-sing Nonpartisan Secretary for the Environment 1 July 2012 1963 [11]
Non-official Lam, JeffreyJeffrey Lam BPA Legislative Council Member 17 October 2012 1951
Official Yang, NicholasNicholas Yang Nonpartisan Secretary for Innovation and Technology 2 March 2015 1955
Official Lau, Kong-wahLau Kong-wah DAB Secretary for Home Affairs 21 July 2015 1957
Non-official Kwok-him, IpIp Kwok-him DAB Hong Kong Deputy to the National People's Congress 17 March 2016 1951
Non-official Cheung, TommyTommy Cheung Liberal Legislative Council Member 25 November 2016 1949
Non-official Liao, MartinMartin Liao Nonpartisan Legislative Council Member 25 November 2016 1957
Non-official Yam, JosephJoseph Yam Nonpartisan Executive Vice President of the China Society for Finance and Banking 1 July 2017 1948
Official Lau, JamesJames Lau Nonpartisan Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury 1 July 2017 1949
Non-official Ip, ReginaRegina Ip NPP Legislative Council Member 1 July 2017 1950
Non-official Tong, RonnyRonny Tong Path of Democracy Senior Counsel 1 July 2017 1950
Non-official Wong, Kwok-kinWong Kwok-kin FTU Legislative Council Member 1 July 2017 1952
Official Law, Chi-kwongLaw Chi-kwong Nonpartisan Secretary for Labour and Welfare 1 July 2017 1957
Official Law, JoshuaJoshua Law Nonpartisan Secretary for the Civil Service 1 July 2017 1957
Official Lee, JohnJohn Lee Nonpartisan Secretary for Security 1 July 2017 1957
Official Chan, FrankFrank Chan Nonpartisan Secretary for Transport and Housing 1 July 2017 1958
Official Chan, SophiaSophia Chan Nonpartisan Secretary for Food and Health 1 July 2017 1958
Official Yau, EdwardEdward Yau Nonpartisan Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development 1 July 2017 1960
Non-official Lam, Ching-choiLam Ching-choi Nonpartisan Chairman of the Elderly Commission 1 July 2017 1960
Official Wong, MichaelMichael Wong Nonpartisan Secretary for Development 1 July 2017 1962
Official Yeung, KevinKevin Yeung Nonpartisan Secretary for Education 1 July 2017 1963
Official Nip, PatrickPatrick Nip Nonpartisan Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs 1 July 2017 1964
Non-official Lau, KennethKenneth Lau BPA Legislative Council Member & Chairman of Heung Yee Kuk 1 July 2017 1966
Non-official Cheung, Kwok-kwanCheung Kwok-kwan DAB Legislative Council Member 1 July 2017 1974


List of the past Executive Councils[edit]


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[edit]


  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. ^ "The Honourable Mrs Laura CHA SHIH May-lung, GBS, JP". Executive Council of Hong Kong. Retrieved 2 May 2013. 
  8. ^ "Professor the Honourable Arthur LI Kwok-cheung, GBS, JP". Executive Council of Hong Kong. Retrieved 2 May 2013. 
  9. ^ "The Honourable CHOW Chung-kong". Executive Council of Hong Kong. Retrieved 2 May 2013. 
  10. ^ "The Honourable Mrs Fanny LAW FAN Chiu-fun, GBS, JP". Executive Council of Hong Kong. Retrieved 2 May 2013. 
  11. ^ "Mr Wong Kam-sing, JP, Secretary for the Environment". Government of Hong Kong. Retrieved 2 May 2013. 
  12. ^ ExCo membership announced, 29 June 2012, HK Information Services Department

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 22°16′53″N 114°09′54″E / 22.281487°N 114.165089°E / 22.281487; 114.165089