Presentation on theme: " For a city to maintain its competitiveness, governance is arguably extremely important Good governance refers to not only (1) relatively clean, transparent,"— Presentation transcript:
For a city to maintain its competitiveness, governance is arguably extremely important Good governance refers to not only (1) relatively clean, transparent, and publicly accountable government, but also to (2) political leadership and (3) a political system operating smoothly with feedback from the government to the demands of the society (1) HKSAR does have a relatively clean government, but whether it is really publicly accountable remains arguably debatable
(2) On leadership, in Hong Kong under colonial rule, leaders were groomed or cultivated by the British rulers at the society and political level Famous business elites and social leaders were appointed by the colonial rulers advisory bodies, Legislative and Executive Councils But after July 1997, there has been a tendency of having the Chief Executives and government appointing only friends and followers into the political system (result: the exclusion of political critics bringing about mutual distrusts) Former Chief Executive D. Tsang: “There is a distinction between relatives/friends and non- relatives/friends”
(3) On governmental responsiveness as stressed by David Easton’s system theory, the HKSAR government does respond to public opinion, but the challenges are whether (a) such responsiveness is adequate, (b) whether the political system in Hong Kong is now flooded with demands and inputs but not sufficient outputs/responses, and (c) whether the government is reforming the institutions sufficiently and rapidly to absorb the growing demands from parties, groups and younger generations who see the huge income gap between rich and poor as a sign of an “unhealthy political system” in Hong Kong after July 1997 Samuel Huntington: institutional reforms can absorb demand overload so as to maintain political stability HKSAR appears to lack sufficient institutional reforms
Ideally political leadership should embrace the critics, understand their viewpoints and absorb them in policy formulation processes This was the strategy of the British colonial rule in Hong Kong before July 1997 But after July 1, 1997, gradually this cooptation strategy has been shifted to a more prominent spoil system – friends and followers are co- opted, but critics tend to be excluded from Executive Council and advisory bodies Critics have yet been directly elected to LegCo Results: (1) Political distrusts/confrontations between the powerful and powerless, (2) public policies can be easily detached from public opinion and sentiments
Compounding the problem of political distrust is that the Chief Executive and his Principal Officials Accountability System (POAS) appointees are structurally and constitutionally bound to be more loyal to Beijing than to the people of Hong Kong (their role as a “political sandwich”) C. Y. Leung is perceived by some critics as “too red”, “more reddish” than either D. Tsang (civil servant background) and C. H. Tung (shipping business background) The fierce election contest between Leung and Henry Tang (business) worsened the image of Leung as a pro-Beijing “loyalist” (even Regina Ip asked Leung not to be so pro-Beijing publicly)
In the West, political parties groom leaders, but in Hong Kong there are limitations: (1) parties cannot govern Hong Kong; (2) Chief Executive is not affiliated to parties although he or she might be supported by parties in CE elections; (3) parties lack research support unlike the West although HKSAR parties conduct research; (4) parties in HKSAR are less powerful than the POAS appointees (some of them come from pro-government parties but may need more time to learn about how to govern HKSAR with skills)
The Basic Law of Hong Kong SAR says nothing about political parties This means that parties belong to the operation of “constitutional conventions”: political habits that can change over time If so, the underdevelopment of parties perpetuates the lack of leadership, it can be argued But it can also be argued that under the constraint of the Basic Law, pro-Beijing party DAB does groom political leaders for HKSAR (eg: Jasper Tsang, Tam Yiu-chung, etc)
Affirmative: Yes, because it at least provides opportunities for appointees (parties- affiliated or independents without party affiliation) to learn political skills and become leaders, because it provides avenues for poorly performed appointees to (a) publicly apologize for mistakes, (b) be reprimanded by the Chief Executive, (c) resign (Anthony Leung), because they support the Chief Executive’s policies, and because the POAS does protect thepolitical neutrality of civil servants
Negative: No, because the POAS system represents a spoil system co-opting friends and followers of the Chief Executive while excluding political critics and politically competent politicians (some pan-democrats in the opposition camp do show legal knowledge and political skills), because the system makes the CE and his supporters accountable to Beijing rather than to the HK people, because it does not encourage the development of political parties that ideally provide the channel of cultivating political leaders for HKSAR in the long run
1. Should political parties be allowed to develop further and fully through the enactment of political party law? 2. Should we give tax incentives to business people to donate to political parties? 3. Should we expand the powers of 18 District Councils (DCs) so that more local politicians learn how to govern DCs (each of which can set up executive committee for locally elected politicians to manage a district – like a small Executive Council in each of 18 Districts)? 4. Should we change the POAS system in a way that at least a few secretaries/undersecretaries come from the democrats elected directly to Legislative Council (more competent democrats appointed)? 5. Should more political critics be appointed to advisory councils, and even perhaps the ExCo, so that their views will be heard? 6. Should HKSAR be allowed to directly elect the Chief Executive and the entire Legislative Council in the long run? 7. Should Beijing trust the people of Hong Kong more so that the double direct elections as mentioned in 6 above will be achieved? 8. Should pro-Beijing politicians and academics play a more active role in fostering mutually trustful relations between pan-democrats and Beijing? 9. Any new solutions that you may suggest??
Arguably, Hong Kong’s competitiveness depends not just on economic/financial areas (relatively low tax, monetary/financial centers), favorable business environment (positive non-interventionism in the 70s/80s to a more interventionist policy in 2000s), the rule of law (protection of intellectual property, of private property, of individual and groups rights, and of procedural due processes), legal reforms (like possibility of developing competition law, persisting in the study of law reforms), education development (reform, harmony between local and national identity, the import of talents from mainland), and improvement in the quality of life (environmental protection and sustainable development), but also on how HKSAR manage the political economy of development and coordination with its neighbors in Pearl River Delta as well as governance (political leadership, parties development, constitutional reforms) in the coming decades.
Hong Kong’s competitiveness perhaps includes at least seven dimensions: 1. Economic/Financial policies 2. Favorable business environment 3. The rule of law and its related legal reforms 4. Educational development (higher education, secondary and primary education) 5. Improving the quality of life socially (sustainable development, better environmental protection) 6. Political economy of development, coordination and competition with the Pearl River Delta regions 7. Governance (political leadership, political parties, political reforms) Governance is and will be a challenge to the political leaders in the HKSAR in the years to come
If Hong Kong SAR really has the governance problems of lacking political leaders and relatively underdeveloped political parties, as well as deep mutual distrust between the powerful and the powerless, what do you think of the possible eight solutions (see the slide “Possible solutions if leaders lacking and parties immature”? Do you agree or disagree with each solution? Do you have any other new solution that can and will help HKSAR’s governance in the coming decades? Discuss.