Tsang still has time to look ahead
It is time for that annual ritual again. In October, the chief executive is to deliver his policy address. This will be Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's seventh and final speech. In line with previous practice, he has launched a public consultation to tap people's views. It is easy to dismiss this process as mere window dressing, especially as Tsang has less than a year left in office and is not expected to adopt dramatic measures which might tie the hands of his successor. But there is much to be done before the new chief executive takes over next July.
The policy speech has a significant role to play in good governance. It is an opportunity for the chief executive to set out his vision and goals in the medium and longer term and to establish the government's priorities according to changing circumstances. The consultation should, therefore, be a meaningful one, enabling various sectors of the community to express their views and wishes. It has added significance this year as people are also being consulted on the budget, to be delivered in February. People should speak frankly and help ensure the government is well prepared.
Tsang's ability to lead was called into question recently when Wang Guangya, director of the State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, criticised our civil servants for being only able to follow instructions. But the chief executive has stressed that he does not intend to be a lame-duck leader for the remainder of his term. This will necessarily involve making the best of the time he has left to face up to the many challenges our city faces. A good leader does not just focus on the problems which arise within his tenure. He should have the courage and vision to plan for the future. Tsang is urging the community to focus on long-term issues like property prices, the ageing population and income gap. The speech will also come at a time of uncertainty about the world economy.
He has pledged the policy address will not be a 'stop-gap' speech, and must now live up to that promise. It is an opportunity for Tsang to show leadership and vision.
Like any leader serving out the remaining months of his term, Tsang will not want to pre-empt his successor. But there are complex issues which must be resolved rather than deferred to the next chief executive. Hong Kong should not be governed on a yearly basis. Many challenges require immediate action and sustainable efforts. Our city will lose out if action is delayed.
This will be the final chance for Tsang to lay out coherent policy programmes for the medium term and beyond. Instead of summing up his achievements over the past six years like a report card, he should not shy away from making bold decisions. The challenges that confront Hong Kong need to be laid out and solutions proposed. In this way he will be fulfilling his responsibility - and shaping his legacy.