Leung's revamp 'May end in chaos'

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 14 May, 2012, 12:00am


A master plan by chief executive-elect Leung Chun-ying to restructure the government risks creating an unclear chain of command and ending in administrative chaos, two prominent critics have warned.

In the latest South China Morning Post debate, former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang and political scientist Cheung Chor-yung cast doubts on how the creation of a deputy for both the chief secretary and financial secretary could improve governance.

Defending the multimillion-dollar revamp, Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun, head of the chief executive-elect's office, countered that it would help with co-ordinating policy formulation, developing long-term plans and expanding the city's economic base.

Cheung, a senior teaching fellow at City University, said: 'If the line of command and the division of responsibility between the new deputies and their subordinate bureau chiefs are not clear, this may create administrative confusion and accountability problems.'

Under Leung's proposal, the new deputies will report to their direct bosses but not to the chief executive.

'It could cause further confusion since one policy portfolio apparently may involve three subject officers (the chief secretary or financial secretary, their deputies as well as bureau ministers) who all have responsibility over that policy,' Cheung warned.

The proposed changes, which also include new ministers for culture and for technology and communications, will incur an extra HK$72 million a year in staff costs.

Former chief secretary Chan, who quit Tung Chee-hwa's administration in 2001, said she had never believed that good coordination in policymaking could be best achieved 'by creating multiple layers of administration'.

She called on Leung to refrain from launching a major overhaul until he had hands-on work experience in the post to better assess the merits and downfalls of his own proposal.

Chan also renewed her call for a review of the political appointments system, introduced by then-chief executive Tung in 2002.

'Taxpayers should not be asked to foot another HK$72-73 million per annum to pay for additional posts, without being assured that their creation will genuinely improve governance and amount to good value for money,' she said.

Bauhinia Foundation Research Centre chairman Anthony Wu Ting-yuk, a former supporter of defeated candidate Henry Tang Ying-yen, backed Leung's plan to hire more political appointees.

On the two deputy posts, Wu urged Leung to 'draw the reporting lines clearly' and attract the right calibre of person for the job.

So Ping-chi, chairman emeritus of the Senior Government Officers Association, also threw support behind Leung's proposals.

He said there were now insufficient political appointees to promote policies, leaving the job to civil servants in some cases.

Leung's plans need to secure the backing of the Legislative Council next month if they are to be in place when he takes office on July 1.