Right people more urgent than revamp

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 June, 2012, 12:00am


Perhaps Leung Chun-ying and his lieutenants do not realise the irony. Their plan to restructure the government has been billed as essential to improving accountability and governance. But despite substantial opposition and serious misgivings in the legislature and among the public, they are ramming it down our throats.

Despite all their hard-selling, public opposition to the plan stands at 28.6 per cent - up 6.5 percentage points in a poll conducted last month by the University of Hong Kong and commissioned by the South China Morning Post. Only 21.2 per cent of respondents support the plan, while 41 per cent are neutral. Legitimate questions are being raised by lawmakers both within and outside the pan-democratic camp.

To force the plan through Legco before the new government takes office on July 1, outgoing Legco president Tsang Yok-sing has broken precedent by allowing the government's proposed resolution to jump the queue ahead of other matters on the legislature's agenda. He has also set aside 55 hours to make sure there is enough time to pass the resolution before the end of the current Legco session. It's clear many people both within and outside of Legco do not believe it's so urgent and think Tsang is abusing his position.

Leung started with meagre political capital despite winning the March election. He is investing so much of it in the restructuring plan that will cost HK$74 million a year. The revamp aims to create two new deputies under the finance and chief secretaries. Some bureaus that deal with key issues such as housing and development will also be restructured. Leung's plan deserves the benefit of the doubt, but the way he goes about it betrays an alarmingly imperious manner.

Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, widely reported to be the next chief secretary, has been caught up in the West Wing redevelopment furore and the rural small-house controversy. The bumbling Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah is expected to keep his post.

Leung should first worry about getting the right people to help run his government before restructuring it.