Leung Chun Ying

Suen warns C.Y. not to push too hard

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 23 June, 2012, 12:00am

Outgoing Education Secretary Michael Suen Ming-yeung suggested yesterday that chief executive-elect Leung Chun-ying might face difficulties if he tries to push his ambitious policies through the bureaucracy too quickly.

The 46-year-old veteran of Hong Kong government said at a farewell tea gathering with political reporters that Leung would have to accept the civil servants' working style if he wanted to accomplish his goals.

'Civil servants have their own strict way of doing things,' said Suen, 68, who was a long-time civil servant before becoming an appointed minister. 'If you ask them to skip a step, it will be difficult for them to do it.

'There are procedures that cannot be missed out. It might leave people an impression that [the government] is dragging its heels over it.'

Asked if he was worried his successor might not be up to the task of executing the numerous initiatives Leung has planned for the next five years, Suen smiled and said: 'I wish them good luck.'

The education minister also said he still had a problem with Leung saying in 1996 that he would not run for chief executive for 'N terms', a phrase widely interpreted at the time as meaning Leung would never run. He did run, of course, beating the presumptive favourite Henry Tang Ying-yen in March.

'At first, he said he would not [run] for 'N terms', but later he changed his tone,' Suen said. 'This was problematic. Many people think that what he said [in 1996] was not what he was thinking. As to why, he has to explain it himself.'

Suen is retiring after an especially tough year. He has been treated for kidney disease for more than a year and also suffered a bout of legionnaires' disease that led to calls for him to step down.

As for departing Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, Suen said it was regrettable that he 'was not sensitive enough' and became embattled in controversies over accepting trips on yachts and private jets from his tycoon friends.

On the suspicious death of Tiananmen activist Li Wangyang, Suen echoed the concerns of outgoing health minister Dr York Chow Yat-ngok, saying he believed it would be difficult for an ailing, elderly blind man to hang himself.

Asked if he might join the June 4 vigil and protests in future, Suen said he would avoid crowded places. He said different people could mourn in their own ways and he declined to say what he would do.