Stick to principles, not whims, says former official

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 16 May, 2011, 12:00am


The government should follow principles not public whims, former top official Michael Sze Cho-cheung warns in light of what he describes as growing populism in Hong Kong.

Citing the government's U-turn on its budget with a cash handout to residents, he said public policies must carry continuity. Sze also criticised the changing education system, saying it is 'like a fashion show'.

Sze, 66, who was secretary for civil service and secretary for constitutional affairs and left the administration in 1995, was speaking at a seminar at Chinese University.

'It is very important for a government to be accountable. But when it is too accountable, the government can lose direction,' he said. 'A government must stick to some principles. You should believe a budget is good ... when you announce it.'

The administration must uphold the continuity of policies when facing growing populism, although he said it was increasingly difficult to measure public opinion in the city because it was changing fast.

'It [the government] has to identify where the interests of society lie, and justify its decision and explain it to the public. Only in this way can it stand on the moral high ground.'

He predicted the next government would face a challenge in meeting public expectations. 'In such a populist society, it will certainly be very difficult for politically accountable officials to do their jobs.'