September 30, 2005

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Hong Kong Hubris

Simon, allow me to chime in on your recent post Hong Kong Boom Town with my two cents. I totally agree that the powers that be in Hong Kong are incredibly self-satisfied and complacent with their performance and that of the city. As those of us to remember the SARS episode, it seems Hong Kong is either busy patting itself on the back for a job well done, or it is wallowing in self-pity, misery and envy. There seems to be no middle ground.

That is made plainly obvious today in a press release made by the Chief Executive in response to a report by the World Economic Forum (WEF). The WEF, in their Global Competitiveness Report 2005-06, has released its rankings, which have Hong Kong dropping from 21st to 28th. Given the number 1 ranking of economic freedom by the right-wing Heritage Foundation think-tank, this came as a shock to local leadership. Allow me to quote the HK press release:

here is no sign of any deterioration in Hong Kong's competitiveness, Chief Executive Donald Tsang says. The World Economic Forum's accusation of weakening in the city's judicial independence and a rise in corruption is also ungrounded.

In the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report 2005-06, released yesterday, Hong Kong's rankings for the "Macroeconomic Environment Index" and "Technology Index" went up. However, there is a marked decline in the "Public Institutions Index" which led to a visible fall in Hong Kong's global competitiveness ranking from 21st to 28th.

Responding to the report today, Mr Tsang said he will study it in detail and see if there is room for improvement. The Government will contact the organisation to better understand their assessment criteria as there is no sign of any deterioration in Hong Kong's competitiveness.

The sheer hubris for Donald Tsang to suggest that Hong Kong may very well have no room for improvement is astounding and flabbergasting. For them to flatly deny that there is any basis for the WEF lowering their ratings on Hong Kong's judicial independence and corruption instead of a more measured refutation is quite astounding too, particularly coming from Elsie Leung (of Sing Tao fame, among other things).

Remember the story of Icarus, Mr. Tsang...

posted by HK Dave on 09.30.05 at 01:30 PM in the


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The shock for the Government is not coming at the top of one of these surveys. They intend to send emmisaries to Geneva to point out the error of the surveyors' ways rather than ask if the survey makes any telling points. And it does. Hemlock said it best, in yesterday's entry:

By whining at absurd length like spoilt brats, our petulant officials only draw attention to the very faults identified by the WEF. The city’s constitution states that 10 years after 1997, we may reform our political system as we wish. It also says a new Chief Executive serves for five years. When we are ordered to accept totally different, politically-driven meanings for the words to those in the dictionary, there is a problem with rule of law. You either fix the problem, or shut up. You don’t wet your pants and issue a huge press release proclaiming everything is perfect. Huge sums of public wealth have been transferred to property tycoons, Richard Li, Disney and dozens of construction and engineering companies in exchange for no apparent net benefit to Hong Kong. You either stop doing such things, or shut up. You don’t go into hysterics, smashing your toys and running round screeching about level playing fields. The WEF report should have been seen as an invitation to quiet reflection.

posted by: Simon on 09.30.05 at 03:53 PM [permalink]

Yes, that's beautiful. I've got nothing more to say.

posted by: HK Dave on 09.30.05 at 03:56 PM [permalink]

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