These shortcomings ... have undermined the credibility of our policy-making capability and ability to govern

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 January, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 January, 2005, 12:00am

Tung uses policy address to lay bare his failings and lay out plans to do better

The chief executive yesterday delivered the toughest critique yet of his seven-year rule, admitting that inadequacies had undermined the credibility of his leadership.

Tung Chee-hwa pledged to enhance 'people-based governance' to address 11 burning issues of public concern, including poverty and the environment, over the last 21/2 years of his term.

In a six-paragraph self-criticism delivered during his policy address, Mr Tung said he and his team had been indecisive in dealing with emergencies and lacked a sense of crisis. He also conceded they lacked political sensitivity and the capability to cope with political and economic changes.

'These shortcomings and inadequacies have undermined the credibility of our policy-making capability and our ability to govern.'

But Mr Tung expressed confidence that the public would see improvements.

'Over the next 21/2 years you will be able to see what we will be doing. I think we will convince you that we are really moving forward.'

Mr Tung conceded that he had to be realistic about how much he could accomplish during the rest of his term. But he firmly denied his leadership role was fading.

'I can tell you that I will definitely do my job well; and indeed, do a better job,' he said after the 90-minute address.

While admitting his own shortcomings, the chief executive warned against giving the central government 'worries and trouble' and called for a greater sense of national identity among the public.

Mr Tung's eighth annual address, entitled 'Working together for economic development and social harmony', came three weeks after President Hu Jintao urged the chief executive to identify his inadequacies, in what Mr Tung denied was a dressing down.

Beijing last night greeted the policy address as 'pragmatic, solid and close to public sentiments'.

'The report has summed up the experiences and lessons learned from past years and has outlined the foundation for further development and social harmony,' a spokesman for the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office said.

A Xinhua analysis praised Mr Tung for mapping out the right direction for the city, saying last year's achievements showed that various initiatives over the past years had begun to bear fruit.

While some critics called Mr Tung's self-criticism an improvement, the pro-democracy camp attacked him for not going far enough in identifying underlying problems and providing solutions.

Mr Tung outlined policy directions in response to 11 areas of public concern, including unemployment, poverty, pollution, education and the West Kowloon cultural hub. Constitutional development was not on the list, however.

A commission will be established to address the poverty gap. A $200 million matching fund will be set up to promote co-operation between business and the welfare sector to help the disadvantaged.

Promotion of cultural and creative industries, attracting professionals and speeding up urban renewal will also be key initiatives.

With the economic doldrums behind us, Mr Tung stressed social harmony would be the key to prosperity and development.

'A family that lives in harmony will prosper,' he said.

'We must endeavour to avoid giving our country worries and trouble. We will help those who still have doubts about or feel antagonistic towards the central government to change their minds.'

He would not elaborate on what the troubles were, but stressed Beijing would be worried if Hong Kong became unstable.

Noting rising concerns about fair governance, Mr Tung pledged to guard against a 'transfer of benefits' to big business.

But any suggestion the government was colluding with business was simply not true, he said.


Failed to establish the vision of 'people-based' governance

Fell short of 'thinking what people think' and 'addressing people's pressing needs'

Introduced too many reform measures too quickly

Lacked a sense of crisis, political sensitivity, experience and capability to cope with political and economic changes

Was indecisive in dealing with emergencies


Insist on the principle of fairness in governance and stand against 'collusion between business and the government'

Uphold the vision of people-based governance

Maintain the stability of the middle class

Promote inclusiveness, unity and respect different views

Help those who have doubts about or feel antagonistic towards Beijing to change their minds

THE speech: key points

New commission to tackle poverty; extra welfare payments for the disabled; new child-development programme

Cultural and creative industries to be developed

Job creation with over 20 municipal projects; 10,000 temporary jobs to be extended; new work trial programme

$3 billion fund for urban renewal

Caps to be imposed on emissions from power plants