FROM THE CHAIRMAN
From "Civil Service Reform" to
There's no better place to argue for more democracy than in the area
of Civil Service Reform. The reasons behind introducing political reform to enable good
government are rational and are not built upon "Pro-Beijing" or
"Pro-democracy" sentiments. All parties, including the Central Government and
the Civil Service (Hong Kong's ruling party in practice), are also likely to support the
broad principle of efficient/effective government.
In our response to the
Civil Service Reform consultation document, we told the Civil Service Bureau that
their reform proposals are "...unobjectionable, and if implemented, helpful".
But we also said that the government must address issue of "accountability to the
people" and acknowledge it as the fundamental success factor for Civil Service
The Civil Service Bureau did acknowledge our submission and said
that some of their thinking is along the same line as ours. However, the need to introduce
more democracy was not mentioned.
Experts invited by the Government to speak at public seminars (such
as Dr Donald Kettl and Miss Eleanor Goodison) are already pointing out that "Civil
Service Reform" in the absence of "Political Reform" is impractical. And
the attempt to use "Performance-Related Pay" to improve the efficiency of any
Civil Service is, at best, problematic.
Prof. John Burns of the Hong Kong University also told us that New
Zealand, Australia and the U.K. have done more than Continental Europe and North America
in the area of Civil Service Reform (see article in this issue).
Professor Burns also urged attention to the broader process of constitutional and
Mr. Danny Gittings, Associate Editor of the South China Morning
Post, doubted that the Hong Kong Civil Service - which is the equivalent of
"ministries" and "departments" of many overseas governments mixed into
one, could be trusted to reform itself (see article on page 6). Civil servants who phone
into a radio programme are telling Mr. W.K.Lam, Secretary for Civil Service to "...
drop the butcher's knife and become a Buddha" (). There is a real risk
that the Civil Service Reform will fizzle out into nothing as the "Donkeys"
(Civil Servants who resist change) stay put and as Mr. Lam cannot find political support
from the political parties.
I look at things in a more common sense way. According to an
official from the Commonwealth Government of Australia (i.e. Federal Government) whom I
met at a business conference recently held in Sydney, the momentum for change comes from
'Above' -- the ministries which see themselves as accountable to the electorate. The
momentum for change also comes from "Below" -- staff from within the Department
who fear for their jobs and therefore take on the responsibility of doing it well. In
Australia, ministries have the option to buy services from the private sector if
Government Departments are not delivering the services efficiently.
In the absence of 'ministries' and a democratic government in Hong
Kong, I fail to see how the pressure for change could come from "Above" or from
Members of the HKDF are not cynics. More often than not, we're
supportive of initiatives made by the Government. We also wish Mr. W.K. Lam every success
in his attempt to reform the Civil Service.
What we would like to ask is: "When will the Hong Kong SAR
Government talk about political reform?"
Alan LUNG Ka-lun, Chairman