Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Being Hong Kong's Chief Executive is not an easy task. There are seven million people to govern, whose interests you should look after, but then Beijing is hovering over you, watching your every move. So what do you do? It is frustrating to see Donald Tsang Yam-kuen and his administration not thinking in the best interests of Hong Kong in the long term and instead making blunder after blunder on issues like air pollution, housing and giving out HK$6,000 to every permanent resident.
So when Director of the State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Office Wang Guangya visited Hong Kong in June, people were pleased he took an interested in the city's affairs. However some felt he overstepped his boundaries in telling the Hong Kong government to put more emphasis on housing issues, but really he is highlighting one of the public's prime concerns.
But last week he went overboard when told a group of visiting Hong Kong university students in Beijing that colonial rule had trained civil servants to "listen to the boss", but "now they have become the boss, [they] still don't know how to be a boss and how to be a master". He added "Britain is responsible for both the success and failure" of their training.
Former Chief Secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang hit back, saying his remarks were groundless and "gross interference in Hong Kong's autonomy".
"His remarks show a total ignorance of how the civil service actually functioned before 1997 and afterwards," she said. "It was after the introduction of the political appointment system in 2002 that the responsibility of policy formation was removed from civil servants and given to political appointees. Mr Wang's remarks are unfair to both the civil service and the previous colonial power."
Others are trying to downplay Wang's remarks.
Lew Mong-hong, a Hong Kong delegate to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference encouraged Tsang to not be a wallflower and stand up to Beijing periodically.
"He [Wang] is just an official but not a leader in Beijing," Lew said Tuesday. "Tsang can accept kind reminders but if some infringe on Hong Kong's autonomy, he doesn't always have to say yes. Sometimes he can say no," he said.
So what is Tsang going to do to appeal more to Hong Kong people as Wang has suggested?
The chief executive has set up a website inviting the public to tell him what issues are on their minds so that he can formulate his next policy address and budget.
And if you want to email him directly, the address is or give him a call at 2810 3768.
Critics are saying Tsang's plebian moves are too little too late.
Nevertheless, Tsang should take Lew's advice and stand up for Hong Kong for once. Is he not the chief executive of Hong Kong?
Or should we change his title to lackey to Beijing?

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