Anson Chan

Anson Chan calls for more openness

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 May, 2012, 12:00am


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Former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang has criticised outgoing Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen for not encouraging his subordinates to give honest opinions, which she believes has affected policymaking.

Chan called on the hot favourite to become the next chief secretary, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, to be outspoken when advising incoming leader Leung Chun-ying on policies.

'Tsang does not encourage colleagues to give honest opinions internally,' she told a Commercial Radio programme yesterday. 'As time passes by, [such an attitude] prevails. So the colleagues will know what to do - to avoid giving honest views so as to make their job easier.'

She lamented that whenever something went wrong because of poorly drafted policies, Tsang's subordinates had to take remedial measures. That tended to leave the public with an impression that the government made frequent and unpredictable changes in policies, undermining its authority.

Chan said she hoped Lam, now secretary for development, would analyse the merits and pitfalls of policy proposals for Leung in a frank manner should she be promoted to chief secretary.

Chan occupied the No2 post from 1993 to 2001, first under British colonial rule, then during the administration of Hong Kong's first chief executive, Tung Chee-hwa.

On Leung's plans to restructure the government, Chan said she opposed the idea of assigning deputies to the chief secretary and financial secretary. She also found it an exaggeration for Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun, head of Leung's preparatory office, to claim that social policies could be affected if the revamp was not in place when Leung's term began on July 1.

Leung wrote in a commentary published in several newspapers yesterday that his incoming administration was following a timetable adopted in a reorganisation of the government five years ago. Chan said his remarks were misleading, as at that time Tsang had not proposed adding the new deputy posts. She noted that Tsang took 22 months, from 2006 to 2008, to implement the idea of creating the posts of undersecretaries and political assistants.

Leung's office has said the new deputies can share the workload of the chief secretary and financial secretary. Chan said the administration should first identify the roots of the problem.