Lai See

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 November, 2011, 12:00am


Government shrugs off damning report on records service arm

Chief Secretary Stephen Lam Sui-lung is nothing if not thick-skinned. A report by the Audit Commission on the Government Records Service (GRS), which was delivered to the Legislative Council on Wednesday, made for depressing reading. The report said the GRS had failed miserably in practically every aspect of its remit - from looking after records to their disposal. Lam's response, given during a debate on a motion to introduce an archive law, was that such a law was unnecessary and that the government was taking 'administrative' measures to address the commission's criticisms. In other words, the government will continue with its previous approach, which has proved to be woefully inadequate. That is assuming that it wants to do the job properly. This government may not care to have its records kept for posterity.

However, it seems hard to believe that our national government in Bejing, given its zeal for record-keeping, is not getting its own records of proceedings. But that's another story.

The danger of introducing an archive law for the government is that at some point somebody might be held accountable for the lamentable failures in the management of its records. The report showed that the GRS, for example, did not carry out a survey of record-keeping practices until the middle of last year - nine years after it was told to do so. It then became apparent that some bureaus and departments had not been complying with mandatory record management procedures.

The report also exposed non-compliance of bureaus and departments in records disposal, review and loan of archival records and their failure to follow up on departmental records management studies. The report said the GRS did not clear backlogs and had failed to develop a proper electronic record-keeping system. The Archives Action Group (AAG), an organisation set up three years ago to agitate for the proper management of the city's archives, says the report confirms what it has been saying for some time - that is, that the present records system of the GRS does not work. AAG believes the present system cannot be trusted to work in the future and the only way to ensure good governance is to enact an Archives Law.

On the road with the Mugabes

A reader points out that the prospect of Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe and his family relocating to Hong Kong must be sending shivers down the spines of local parking wardens and possibly the police. Given the growing outrage over the penchant of the Hong Kong elite to park wherever they like regardless of the inconvenience to everyone else, the prospect of asking Grace Mugabe to move her vehicle off double yellow lines should not be entertained lightly, given her propensity for violence when displeased.

Any more parking black spots?

Still on the subject of parking, another reader notes that double and triple parking are not only confined to the few areas we mentioned yesterday. Ice House Street is another black spot in Central, and we gather that the Mid-Levels also gets pretty bad during weekends. If you know of other black spots, let us know and we will forward them to the police. We will also be asking them how many parking tickets are issued at these areas.

No PIIGS to kick around

Those who follow soccer will no doubt be aware that the draw for next year's Euro 2012 takes place soon. Traditionally, teams seek to avoid the 'Group of Death' - the group with the strongest opponents. However, The Guardian reports that Euro 2012 has raised the spectre of the 'Group of Debt' featuring Spain, Italy, Greece or Portugal (the latter pair are in the same seeding pool) and Ireland. With only four teams in each group, and Portugal and Greece in the same pool, Uefa has averted the prospect of a group of Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain and Ireland. There will therefore be no battle of the PIIGS, much to the chagrin of headline writers.

Father China to thank?

FedEx is already anticipating a merry Christmas and is expecting December 12 to be the busiest day in its history, with more than 17 million shipments - almost double its daily average volume. This compares with the 9.8 million it processed on December 12, 2005 - its busiest day that year. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas in the US this year, FedEx says it will handle more than 260 million shipments, up 12 per cent from last year. Much of this is thanks to the surge in online sales. China is now the world's second-largest online retail market after America. Last year, China registered US$80.7 billion of online sales.