January 13, 2005

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Not much ado about nothing

Only a couple of weeks ago, President Hu told Tung Che-hwa to shape up or ship out. Hu said and Tung learnt:

[Hu]:"Hong Kong has to draw conclusions from experience and find out what's been insufficient."

[Tung at press conference]: "President Hu reminds us to look at our deficiencies and continue to raise our governance."

Say what you like about HK's Chief Executive, he knows how to listen to Beijing. In yesterday's policy address Tung accepted his Government had failed to listen to the public and said
"we were indecisive when dealing with emergencies. These shortcomings and inadquacies have underminded the credibility of our policy-making capability and our ability to govern...In formulating policies, we fell short of thinking what people think and addressing people’s pressing needs."
Stunning. It only took 7 years and a ticking off by the President of China to open Tung's eyes to the concept of public opinion. As an aside, it's interesting the Tung, leader of the world's free-est economy, is publicly engaging in that most Communist of sessions: a self-criticism. But Tung had even more surprises in store. Much to the vexation of his public service and HK's public, he said:
"We are resolutely against collusion between business and the government and will strictly enforce our monitoring systems to eliminate any transfer of benefits."
.The cartels' Legco representative, James Tien, was not impressed:
"A proactive denial will be seen by the pan-democrats as Tung's self-confession,'' Tien said. "[Policy unit head and speech writer] Lau should have written this thorny issue positively, saying that the government, in facilitating the business environment, would not favor anyone. It is stupid to repeat slogans chanted by protestors and give the democrats bullets to fire at Tung.''
If Tien's upset you know it's on the right track.

The reaction to the speech has been mixed. Generally everyone on planet Earth has been unimpressed with the exception of the above-mentioned Collusion-gate. The Chinese press gave it a ringing endorsement, although rumours the articles were pre-written or written in their sleep were denied.

Will anything come of it? Could the final few years of Tung's Chief Executive-ship turn the tables on the collusion between Government and business? Could he turn himself from unresponsive lame-duck into champion of HK's poor? Will the aerodynamics of porcine products defy the laws of nature?

posted by Simon on 01.13.05 at 11:52 AM in the


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