Under the Basic Law, the HKSAR enjoys a high degree of autonomy except in defence and foreign affairs. The HKSAR exercises executive, legislative and independent judicial power, including that of final adjudication.
The Chief Executive
The Chief Executive is the head of the HKSAR. He is advised on major decisions by the Executive Council, the members of which are appointed by the Chief Executive. [ The Chief Executive ]
The HKSAR has a two-tier system of representative government. At the central level is the Legislative Council, which legislates, controls public expenditure and monitors the performance of the Administration. At the district level, 18 District Councils advise on the implementation of policies in their respective districts. All 60 members of the Legislative Council are returned by election. The election of the third term of the Council was held on September 12, 2004 and the term of office for members is four years.
The District Councils are composed of 400 elected members, 27 ex-officio members and 102 appointed members. The term of office for district councillors is four years from January 1, 2004. [ The Legislative Council ]
The Government introduced the Accountability System for Principal Officials in 2002. Under the system, the Principal Officials, namely the Chief Secretary for Administration, the Financial Secretary, the Secretary for Justice, and the 11 Directors of Bureaux, accept total responsibility relating to their respective portfolios.
They are appointed to the Executive Council and are responsible for all aspects of their portfolios: from determining policy objectives and goals to policy initiation, formation, implementation and outcome.
The legal system of the HKSAR is firmly based on the rule of law and the independence of the Judiciary. Under the principle of 'one country, two systems', the HKSAR's legal system is different from that of the Mainland, and is based on the common law.
A key element in the success and continuing attraction of the HKSAR is that its judicial system operates on the principle, fundamental to the common law system, of independence of the Judiciary from the executive and legislative branches of government. The courts make their own judgments, whether disputes before them involve private citizens, corporate bodies or the
Government itself. [ Judiciary ]
The Court of Final Appeal
The Court of Final Appeal is the highest appellate court in the HKSAR. The court is headed by the Chief Justice. There are three permanent judges and a panel of eight non-permanent Hong Kong judges and nine non-permanent judges from other common law jurisdictions. In hearing and determining appeals, the court may, as required, invite a non-permanent Hong Kong judge or a non- permanent judge from other common law jurisdictions to sit on the court. The Chief Justice is the head of the Judiciary. He is assisted in the overall administration by the Judiciary Administrator.
Manpower is Hong Kong's most treasured asset. The Government aims to ensure that there is a dynamic, well-motivated, adaptable and continuously upgraded workforce contributing to the HKSAR's economic competitiveness.
In December 2005, Hong Kong's labour force stood at some 3.58 million, of which 55.2 per cent were male and 44.8 per cent were female. The majority (85.3 per cent) of employed persons were engaged in the service sectors: 34.4 per cent in wholesale, retail and import/export trades, restaurants and hotels; 10.5 per cent in transport, storage and communications; 15 per cent in financing, insurance, real estate and business services; and 26 per cent in community, social and personal services. Only 5.3 per cent worked in the manufacturing sector. [ Labour Department ]
In 2005, the average monthly wage rate for supervisory, technical, clerical and miscellaneous
non-production workers in the wholesale, retail and import/export trades, restaurants and hotels sector was $11,735 (US$1,504). The average daily wage was $338 (US$43) for craftsmen and operatives in the manufacturing sector.
Education is one of the biggest public expenditure items. The education budget accounts for about one-fifth of total recurrent public expenditure. The Government gives financial assistance to ensure that no students are deprived of education for lack of means. [ Education Bureau ]
Nine Years' Free Education
Hong Kong provides nine years of free and universal basic education. All students between the ages of six and 15 are entitled to free school places.
All Secondary 3 students studying in publicly funded schools who have the ability and wish to progress are provided with subsidised Secondary 4 places or training places. Of the 17-20 age cohort, 57 per cent have access to post-secondary education.
IT in Education
IT in education prepares students for the information age and equips them to become lifelong learners. The first five-year strategy on IT in education was successfully completed in 2003. Riding on the achievements of the first five-year strategy, a new student-centred IT in education strategy was launched in July 2004 to enhance community-wide support for sustainable development of IT in education. The key goals of the second strategy are to empower learners and teachers with IT, to enhance the e-leadership capacity of schools, to develop more digital resources for learning, to improve schools' IT infrastructure, to provide continuous research and development, and to promote community-wide support.
Hong Kong has 12 degree-awarding higher education institutions. They include seven universities and a teacher training institution funded by the University Grants Committee. The other four institutions are the Open University of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, the Hong Kong Shue Yan University and Chu Hai College of Higher Education. top