- Published: October 31, 2021
- Updated: October 31, 2021
- University / College: University of Iowa
- Language: English
- Downloads: 45
Hong Kong is led by an executive-led political structure headed by the chief executive. According to Article 43 (1) the chief executive heads the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and represents the region. The chief executive is quite powerful, and some of the powers entrusted to him include issuing executive orders and appointing principal officials. As a result, the executive branch of the Hong Kong government exercises greater powers than the two other main branches of Hong Kong’s political structure (the legislative council and the judiciary). The Chinese like this description probably because the chief executive is directlyresponsible to the Chinese authorities and this is stated in Article 43 (2). Nonetheless, the Hong Kong government has a clear separation of powers.
The idea of separation of powers is several hundred years old and is practiced in several democracies. In the case of Hong Kong, separation of powers is enshrined in the Hong Kong Basic Law, and from a reading of the law it is evident that the executive, the judiciary and the legislature are able to perform their constitutionally designated roles in a coordinated and cooperative manner for the good governance of Hong Kong. The legislative council is entrusted with the making of laws, the judiciary is entrusted with deciding court cases within its jurisdiction, and the executive implements the government agenda. Apart from enacting laws, the legislative council checks and balances the executive power, and makes financial proposals. The executive on the other hand introduces bills into the legislative council, and the goes through the stages making the bill into law. The legislative council draws its powers from articles 66-79 of the Hong Kong Basic Law, the judiciary draws its functions from Articles 80-96 and the executive draws its functions from Articles 43-65.
The chief executive is touted as a very powerful figure entrusted with so much power. Most of the powers of the chief executive are drawn from Article 48 and they include:
– Under Article 48 (1), the chief executive is mandated to lead the government of the region
– Under Article 48 (2) the chief executive is charged with the responsibility of implementing of law
– Under Article 48 (3) the CE sings bills passed by the legislative assembly
Other powers of the chief executive are drawn from Article 45 and Annex 1 which make the chief executive to enjoy superior constitutional powers because he is elected by the Election Committee thus he enjoys independence from the Legco. Further powers of the chief executive are drawn from Article 49, 72(2) & 74 which mandates the chief executive to initiate legislations.
It is common knowledge that Hong Kong has an executive-led government, and this executive led government emphasizes the powers of the chief executive. For example, the chief executive can conduct external affairs on behalf of the powerful Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, and also has the power to pardon offenders and handle petitions. The chief executive exercises superior constitutional powers because he is elected by the election committee and thus exercises independence from the legislative council.
Some of the powers given to the chief executive in Article 48 (4), Article 48 (5) and Article 48 (7) are not even enjoyed by foreign presidents. Article 48 (4), for instance, gives the chief executive the power to make policies without the approval from legislature – unless the policy entails changing laws. Again, Article 48 (5), and Article (7), gives the chief executive the power to appoint and remove the major government officials without the approval of the courts or the legislature. Other powers of the chief executive are drawn from Article 50 which gives the chief executive the power to veto bills passed by the Legco, and the chief executive can dissolve the Legco if they pass a bill that he does not want to sign for the second time. This can also happen when the Legco does not pass important government bills.
Nonetheless, the powers of the chief executive are also limited in some way because the chief executive has to have the approval of the Legco before making any new laws as stated in Article 73(1). Again, the chief executive cannot raise the taxes, and the annual government budget has to be approved by the Legco as stipulated in Article 73 (2). Article 73 (3) also ensures that the government cannot spend public funds without the approval of the legislative council. Therefore, the legislative council exercises some control over government’s way of raising money, and spending it.
This shows that there is separation of powers between the three arms of the government (the executive, the judiciary and the legislature), and some of the functions require coordination of each of the three branches for the smooth functioning of the government. Although the executive is very powerful, the other arms of the government have some functions to perform in running of the government, and this cannot be termed as a minor thing.