Ah Q-ism

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 November, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 November, 2003, 12:00am

I wish to comment on 'Delusional characters' (November 1) and the Ah Q spirit attributed to Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands Michael Suen Ming-yeung by columnist Luisa Tam.

The Ah Q spirit displayed by this official is a result of his muddled mission in housing, planning and lands, jurisdictions which should be overseen by three secretaries, not one.

Rolling housing, planning and lands into one bureau makes sense in order to gain efficiency in policy decision-making that is favourable to housing - more housing needs more land and planning to achieve it.

Such thinking seemed valid when building and housing was the pillar of Hong Kong's economy. But it has built up tunnel vision where environmental issues are overlooked and play an insignificant role in policy-making, notwithstanding the existence of the Environmental Protection Department.

These conditions justify Mr Suen furthering harbour reclamation despite public opposition. After all, he could not see any other way but to find more land to build on. Yet all aspects of city life should be taken into consideration in the development of Hong Kong.

Until we have a fundamental change in the structure of government responsibilities, the bureau will focus narrowly on housing and bring continued environmental degradation, no matter who is in charge of it.

JOHN YUAN, Shanghai