FROM THE CHAIRMAN
From management style of Chinese businesses to erosion of Meritocracy
Members of the HKDF were alarmed when a senior
Government official responded with an enthusiastic nodding of head to a cheeky question:
"Does Mr Tung run the Civil Service like a Chinese business?"
As someone who worked for a Chinese family business for five years,
I felt qualified to say what the management style of a typical Chinese businessman is
like. A typical Chinese businessman would never confront a situation. He would go to great
lengths to preserve "harmony". Original thinking is not important. Obedience is
more valued. Open discussion on the "merits"" or "demerits""
of projects, which could lead to dissenting opinions, is definitely not encouraged.
For those working for a typical Chinese businessman, good
boss-handling skills, such as watching the "colour" of your boss's face during
meetings would help. Be aware of which direction the "wind" is blowing and avoid
taking a position at all costs. But these measures may not help you if your opposition
managed to knife you behind your back at a Sunday Mahjong game...!
At the last HKDF luncheon, Martin Lee confirmed our suspicion that
Meritocracy is being eroded at the Civil Service. Martin said that some senior Civil
Servants had complained to him that although Mr Tung still consults the Civil Service, he
does not say whether he agrees or disagrees with the opinion offered.
"After the consultation, the Civil Servant would next hear
about it in the evening news, and then be expected to defend the policy too," said
Martin Lee went on to describe a situation (see
article in this issue) which sounds familiar to those who have worked for a Chinese
family business. This would have been all right if the successes and failures of Hong Kong
were the sole preserve of one Chinese family. The senior Civil Servants would not have
anything to complain about to Martin.
But this is obviously not the case. Should the "Demise of
Meritocracy" happen in the Civil Service, one of the corner stones of Hong Kong's
past success will be taken away. Hong Kong's economic competitiveness will be weakened.
Despite the good luck of having many world-class professionals working in Hong Kong for
Hong Kong, we would not be able to move forward as a society.
Civil Servants, still holding considerable power over the executive
branch of government, will be forced to watch which way the "wind" is blowing.
They will avoid taking positions and will stop discussing policies on their merits. They
will also have to watch out for knives behind their backs.
Members of the HKDF are not campaigners. Rather, we focus on the
building and preserving of the institutions that are the foundations of a civil, open and
democratic society. We believe that leaders who are capable of moving Hong Kong forward
will arise from a suitable political framework, and we take a grave view of the erosion of
successful Hong Kong institutions.
At the end of the HKDF luncheon, Martin said, in his own inimitable
way, that we should expose Tung. "He is undemocratic," said Martin. By way of
response, I have highlighted a management style that is dislodging one of the corner
stones of Hong Kong's success.
Alan LUNG Ka-lun, Chairman