Implementing a Code of Conduct: A Step Towards Accountability

Attorney-General Graham Leung has requested Cabinet’s approval to begin drafting legislation to establish a code of conduct for leaders, including ministers and Members of Parliament.

During his maiden speech in Parliament on Monday amid the budget debate, Leung highlighted the government’s constitutional duty to fulfill Section 149 of the Constitution.

“The requirement of a code of conduct for leaders, including ministers and MPs, is contained in Section 149 of the Constitution,” Leung stated.

“The Code of Conduct Bill 2016 (Bill No. 22 of 2016) was first introduced in Parliament on April 26, 2016, and read for the first time. It was subsequently read for the second time on April 28, 2016, before being referred to the Standing Committee of Justice, Law, and Human Rights. However, while under review by the Standing Committee, Parliament was dissolved and the Bill then lapsed.”

He noted that codes of conduct are already present in the public service and various private sector organizations.

“As early as 1996, the Reeves Commission, which played a significant role in the adoption of the 1997 Constitution, recommended an integrity code within the Constitution—similar to a code of conduct. This was intended to ensure that national leaders do not misuse their offices for personal gain.”

Leung emphasized that a code of conduct is a crucial component of the government’s integrity system.

“It will promote ethical behavior, mitigate risks to government integrity, and enhance Parliament’s ability to perform its functions efficiently as the paramount political institution. This will also enhance transparency and public accountability among our leaders, thereby strengthening public trust in the government.”

“I therefore aim to seek Cabinet’s approval to begin drafting the legislation needed to implement a code of conduct, with the goal of its swift introduction in Parliament.”

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