Practising open government

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 June, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 June, 1993, 12:00am

KEVIN Sinclair's article ''Why our public servants should be open to account'' (South China Morning Post, May 31) accuses the Buildings and Lands Department of failing to live up to pledges of open government in refusing to put a name to the individual whoreceived compensation payments of $35 million in respect of his 100 flats in the Kowloon Walled City (KWC). This accusation is unfounded.

The department practises open government. The whole compensation and rehousing package for KWC was set out in a publicly distributed brochure. Mr Sinclair himself was given comprehensive answers to a series of questions he raised, including the amount ofcompensation paid in the case under scrutiny, in February of this year. When, after the publication of the Director of Audit's report in April, Mr Sinclair asked for an interview with Mr Corrigall, an interview was arranged.

It is due to the very openness of the system that the public is fully aware of the size of the compensation payments made to this individual. However, we believe it is neither appropriate nor necessary that the individual's name be divulged. Indeed, the individual, having had no choice in the question of the clearance of his flats, ought to be able to expect his name to be kept out of the public domain. A balance has to be struck between open government and the individual's right to privacy.

R. D. POPE for Director of Buildings and Lands