New team needs to be given time

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 July, 2012, 12:00am


Hong Kong's new ruling team has been sworn into office, albeit not quite in its final shape. The voices of the people in Sunday's protest have also been heard. Now that ceremonies and protests are over, the public awaits some actions from the government.

On Monday, Leung Chun-ying and his team spared no time in reaching out to the community. Although the district meetings may be just political shows to some people, they are no doubt steps in the right direction. It would have been even better had the dialogue remained calm and orderly. The disruption by some angry participants shows there is a pressing need to address simmering public outrage.

There are good reasons why ministers should double efforts in winning public support. Marred by the chief executive's illegal- structures scandal, the new government is facing an uphill battle in restoring credibility and trust. The cabinet put in place, however, does not appear to instil much confidence. Of the 15 ministers appointed under the existing structure, seven are new faces. There is no question of their professional qualifications. Some of them are indeed leading figures in their respective fields. But they are not known to be seasoned politicians. With their political skills yet to be tested, concerns over their leadership are understandable. In fact, if their performance in the district visits and a media session last week reflected their skills, some ministers are apparently on a steep learning curve.

Those who expected a more impressive line-up in the powerful Executive Council may also be disappointed. The new members are mainly pro-Beijing allies or Leung's campaign supporters, raising concerns that they were appointed because of close ties rather than talent and service record. Exco is the government's highest decision-making body. It should be seen as contributing to good governance instead of as a political reward.

The council's weekly morning meeting on Tuesdays is to be extended to a full-day session in a revamp to give members more time for discussion. The usual nine-week summer break will also be compressed to two weeks. It is to be hoped that the changes will strengthen policy deliberations.

Announcing his team on Thursday, Leung vowed to change what he called 'prolonged sluggishness' in economic and social development. We do not doubt the ministers' commitment in building a better Hong Kong. But it would be unrealistic to expect quick fixes. The team should be given more time to prove itself. Experience has shown that even the best players need time to work out a strong team. The community will be watching closely how the appointees perform and honour their promises.