Donald Tsang

A measure of justice in C.Y.'s cabinet

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 29 June, 2012, 12:00am


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With his integrity questioned and his political honeymoon over before it even began, chief executive-elect Leung Chun-ying has announced his new cabinet. With 14 of his 20 principal officials current or former members of the outgoing administration, it does not look like a cabinet bent on radical change. This is perhaps best reflected in his choices for three key posts: chief secretary, financial secretary and the secretary for justice.

How should we judge these choices? Instead of predicting, perhaps we should ask whether the three top appointments offer cause for optimism. The bumbling John Tsang Chun-wah will serve a second term as finance chief. Under the two Tsangs - the other being retiring Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen - government policy has exacerbated or neglected key issues confronting Hong Kong: the worsening wealth gap, high property prices, air pollution, ageing population and an outdated local education system. You can only be pessimistic about him.

Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, the new chief secretary, has until recently been considered the most competent and respected of the current policy ministers. But people are beginning to have doubts about her fixation, against the public's wishes, on tearing down the west wing of the old government headquarters. We can only be cautiously optimistic about her.

Perhaps the appointment of Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung as justice secretary gives us the most reason for optimism. When he was chairman of the Bar Association, which represents barristers, it took a strong stand on several issues, which augured well for the rule of law and an independent judiciary. When Vice-President Xi Jinping , during his visit in 2008, called for mutual support between the executive, legislature and judiciary, the association objected, saying the judiciary had to be independent of the government. Commenting on constitutional reforms, it called for an end to functional constituencies, which include some of the most corrupt sectors of the legislature.

If Yuen's stewardship of the association is any indication, he may make a good justice chief.