Come July 1, Leung will get the report card he deserves from Hongkongers

Albert Cheng believes that public discontent with governance will find full voice at the protest march, as the people know who is to blame

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 28 June, 2013, 4:39am

Embattled Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying broke with tradition and released a report card on his performance since taking office one year ago, in a bid to show that his administration has been effective in a wide range of areas, including economics, land and housing, transport, as well as livelihood issues.

He has tried to project an image of a stable and pragmatic administration. Yet, the latest opinion poll by the University of Hong Kong shows that public confidence in him has plummeted to a new low. His days appear numbered, and the July 1 rally could trigger the beginning of the end.

With public discontent reaching boiling point, Leung can no longer shirk his responsibility, and neither can his so-called supporters who were either motivated by self-interest or simple ignorance.

Hong Kong has suffered immensely under the Leung administration. If his supporters still have an ounce of decency and self-respect, they should apologise to the people. Unfortunately, even when confronted by undeniable facts, they will continue to try to pull the wool over our eyes and shift the blame to someone else.

Two such examples are long-time grass-roots representative Ho Hei-wah and executive councillor Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun.

First, let's look at the case of Ho, who is supposed to be a defender of the interests of grass-roots community groups. However, he has failed to monitor the government and push for better policies in housing and social welfare.

Instead of tackling the root causes, Ho has shifted the blame onto the civil service and Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah, claiming they are the two big obstacles getting in the way of the implementation of Leung's policies.

In an interview with a Chinese-language newspaper, Ho said that although he felt pessimistic about government efforts to alleviate poverty, he didn't hold Leung and his government responsible. He insisted Leung was truly committed to helping the poor; the problem was that his efforts were being hindered by two big countervailing forces.

One was the civil service and its inflexible and conservative bureaucratic system, which, Ho claimed, lacked motivation and a sense of urgency to make progress.

The second obstacle, according to Ho, was the financial secretary, whose conservative approach in managing the budget has constricted Leung's room to implement progressive economic policies.

Ho has smeared the civil service without basis. It's not difficult to see who has really obliterated our disciplined and systematic structure, as well as law and order. We all know who is responsible for the government's half-baked and ineffective policies. Our civil service has a long and reputable track record, so if it is underperforming or unable to maintain its long-established effectiveness and efficiency, it's no doubt due to the lack of leadership under the Leung administration.

And pointing an accusatory finger at Tsang is also extremely unfair. We shouldn't forget who approved the HK$15 billion funding for poverty alleviation. If we look at it from another perspective, if Tsang's approach can help Hong Kong manage its economic and financial matters in a steady and pragmatic manner, we shouldn't doubt his competency.

Surprisingly, according to Ho, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor encouraged members of the Commission on Poverty to criticise civil servants. As the head of the civil service, that's a betrayal of trust.

As for Leung's unofficial chief of staff, Fanny Law, her comments were equally insufferable. Even when confronted by the reality that the government is highly ineffective, she blamed the Legislative Council for being obstructive and the people of Hong Kong for being impatient and not giving the government a chance, as they want instant results.

She claimed that this kind of negativity has dampened public enthusiasm and discouraged talented people from joining the government or wanting to contribute to public services. When it comes to incompetent and ineffective governance, Law and the Leung administration should perhaps look inwards and engage in a little self-reflection.

Being surrounded by supporters like these is like being stuck in quicksand for Leung; the more he struggles, the quicker he will sink.

This year's July 1 rally is expected to attract a record turnout mainly because of the

C. Y. factor. Hong Kong people cannot tolerate this government any more.

For our own sake and for that of our future generations, and the future of Hong Kong, not to mention the much cherished core values and the realisation of universal suffrage, we have to step forward next Monday, march and be counted.

Albert Cheng King-hon is a political commentator. taipan@albertcheng.hk