Anson Chan

Fine civil servant, shame about the second-hand politics

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 May, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 May, 2001, 12:00am


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I refer to the article by Chris Yeung headlined 'How Anson's legacy will flower' (South China Morning Post, April 28).

I have found much of the criticism directed against Anson Chan and many of the accolades heaped upon her cannot be backed up by hard facts. Her refusal to be labelled either pro-British, and therefore pro-Western, or anti-Chinese is totally correct. Critics who regard her as one or the other usually have their own political or nationalistic agendas.

That said, I cannot agree with many sources quoted in some English-language newspapers, which have praised her leadership qualities.

Maybe she was a very capable bureaucrat when at the top of our colonial hierarchy, but that is a far cry from being a leader with a strategic vision.

As Hong Kongers, we must express our gratitude to her and should salute her for a distinguished civil service career. But her ideas about democracy are, at best, second hand. They are simply a direct transplant from the 18th-century liberal ideals found in the existing governments of Britain and the United States.

I am not aware of any original ideas being credited to her on how to adapt the best of the philosophical foundations of constitutional governments to our cultural heritage and our unique 'one country, two systems' status.

Her public image has been greatly overstated in the English-language press, here and abroad.

I was in Hong Kong just a few weeks ago. I spoke to dozens of friends and relatives about Mrs Chan, seeking favourable opinions. However, not one of them was enthusiastic about her contribution to the governing of Hong Kong. I met no one who shared the views expressed by Chris Yeung.

I wonder if there is an Anson Chan who has become the media creation of papers like the Post and The New York Times.


Oradell, New Jersey, US