Implementing a Code of Conduct for Government Leaders

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

In his maiden speech to Parliament on Monday during the budget debate, Leung emphasized the government’s constitutional obligation to enforce 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.

He highlighted that the Code of Conduct Bill 2016 (Bill No. 22 of 2016) was initially introduced in Parliament on April 26, 2016, and underwent its first reading. It was read a second time on April 28, 2016, and subsequently referred to the Standing Committee of Justice, Law, and Human Rights. However, Parliament was dissolved before the committee completed its review, causing the bill to lapse.

Leung noted that codes of conduct are already in place within the public service and many private sector organizations. He referenced the 1996 Reeves Commission, which led to the adoption of the 1997 Constitution, recommending an integrity code to ensure national leaders do not exploit their office for personal gain.

“A code of conduct forms an important part of the government’s integrity system,” Leung said. “It will promote ethical conduct, reduce risks to the integrity of government and Parliament—the paramount political institution—and enable it to perform its functions more effectively.”

Leung believes that such a code will enhance transparency and public accountability, thereby strengthening public trust in the government.

“I intend to seek Cabinet’s approval to begin work on drafting legislation to implement a code of conduct, aiming for its early introduction in Parliament,” he announced.

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