Message from the Chairman
From blaming the Brits to accepting responsibility
It is not unknown for the leader of newly de-colonised nation to act excessively against their former colonial masters. I could still remember on the first day I reported to work at a new job in Singapore in mid-1980s, Mr Goh Keng Swee, a founding member of People's Action Party and Finance Minister at that time, decided to kick Jardine Fleming out of Singapore because he did not like what the Company did in his country.
Here in Hong Kong, the cause of bashing our former colonial master was taken up by "patriotic" fellow citizens who tried to blame the economy, the education system, our housing shortage and, incredibly, the foul up at the Airport on the departed British administration. This cause did not go very far because the vast majority of us do not seem to hate the British. We did not "struggle" against the British in the same way as other former British colonies did. Most people also know that we have been lucky to have inherited a working administrative system and a judicial system from Britain.
As demonstrated in the speech made by the British Consul General at HKDF's luncheon, the British Government now sees Hong Kong a bridge between Britain and China and in the light of EU/Asia co-operation. Most people in Hong Kong, including the diplomatic community, have also noticed that China has kept its promise to grant the SAR Government substantial autonomy.
This is a good thing for us! For the first time in Hong Kong's history, we could now see ourselves building a future for ourselves as permanent residents of Hong Kong SAR, China. And for the very first time, we seem to have been given the opportunity to solve problems for ourselves!
Or is this the case?
Professor Byron Weng pointed out (see article The first year af the HKSAR: changes in the political institutions) that our political system has changed substantially, in spite of the principle that it should remain "basically unchanged". He pointed out Mr Tung's problem of having to make constant effort to earn trust from the Central Government. He pointed out the Civil Service's position as the sole policy maker in Hong Kong will be challenged. He quoted Donald Tsang's lamenting that the good days of "... freedom from politics" are over from Hong Kong. He also hinted that our current economic difficulties has been exacerbated by weakness in our political system.
Christine Loh and many well known figures from the Democratic Party have been pushing for "Constitutional Reform". At the HKDF, we believe that it is quite urgent for a fundamental review of our system of government. And we hope that the "Review of District Organisation" initiated by Government is only the beginning of this process.
We believe that political power derived from the moral authority of democracy is more legitimate than that cultivated through "friendly" relationships. We hope that the executive, now vested with vast policy-making power, would also take on the political responsibility that ought to come with that power.
Blaming it on the Brits is easy. Taking on the responsibility of building a better Hong Kong is the difficult part.