Political Animal

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 November, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 November, 2010, 12:00am

Robotic vision of a civil servant's future

Anyone who saw the poster of yesterday' public-sector reform conference in Sha Tin might wonder whether a war of the worlds is upon us.

It features a Transformers-like robot standing over the yet-to-be-completed government headquarters at Tamar - and looks set to take over Central. It was left to Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen who finally explained the Transformers analogy. He said civil servants must change with the times.

They were like transformers who must learn to multi-task while serving the people, he said.

Pointing to their inadequacy, this is what he quoted from a civil servant's description of his own colleagues today: 'A middle-aged man, wanting to work hard, not knowing how to work effectively, anxious in the face of new stuff.'

But with the recent exodus of top civil servants, filling their ranks with robots might not be a bad idea - after all, metals cannot feel the heat of public anger.

When the devil is in the detail

Tycoon Li Ka-shing might have considered the row over his being called a devil by Catholic priest Father Thomas Law Kwok-fai over and done with after his call to diocesan vicar-general Michael Yeung Ming-cheung. Yeung has, after all, distanced the diocese from Law's shock remarks. But for the Catholic diocese's leadership, it may just be the beginning of a potential power struggle. Bishop John Tong Hon has washed his hands of the matter by delegating it to Yeung - a rising star in the diocese hierarchy. Speculation has been rife that Yeung's heavy-handed approach towards Law was an attempt to quiet dissent, with church insiders pointing to hostility said to exist between Yeung and some of his colleagues in the diocese. The way Law was treated has outraged many parishioners, who believed his attack on unfair practices by property developers was in line with the church's teaching. It also resonated among some priests. Handpicked by Tong as one of the three vicar-generals after he succeeded Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun last year, Yeung's administrative skills and academic backgrounds put him as a potential successor to Tong. But Tong's earlier move to postpone applying to the Vatican for a successor was seen as an indication of difficulties in finding a candidate who can stand firm on issues of social justice, following the example of Zen. That is deemed a necessary quality for a bishop. Beijing's researchers in Hong Kong, who have long kept an eye on Yeung, are of the view that the central government would be happy to see a conservative like Yeung leading the church.

Rural leaders opt to lie low

The rural community has long been known for its unity - especially when its comrades are in trouble. After a series of failures in declaration of interests in the Executive Council, Heung Yee Kuk boss Lau Wong-fat is reportedly losing morale and wanting to give up running for election on the rural committee next year, and consequently his seat as the chairman of Tuen Mun District Council. Perhaps eager to avoid the limelight, the Kuk chairman was nowhere to be seen at Legco's regular meeting yesterday. The same was true of another New Territories heavyweight and lawmaker, Cheung Hok-ming. The Kuk vice-chairman never showed up in Legco corridors either. Call that unity in disappearance.