• Fri
  • Oct 3, 2014
  • Updated: 1:36am
My Take
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 August, 2014, 4:46am
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 August, 2014, 6:47am

When the Hong Kong government becomes the problem

People like to talk about "core values" as those which make a society like Hong Kong succeed or different from the mainland. I prefer an uglier phrase: pillar institutions.

During the heyday of the Asian Tigers, people liked to talk smugly about "Asian values" and why they helped create superior productivity and returns for their economies. But critics have long dismissed such talk as vacuous or meaningless. I wonder if a similar argument could be made for "core values", a phrase which makes for good sound bites but is just about as substantial as our polluted air.

Our real problem is not so much the need to preserve and protect our "core values", whatever they are; they mean different things to different people anyway. The real challenge of this generation is to make sure the core institutions that underpin our society adapt to rapidly changing circumstances. Democratic reform is not an end in itself but is only meaningful in those institutional contexts. This is what young activists usually don't understand.

People, especially the ruling elite, like to paint successful institutions as products of incredible foresight. In reality, most of our enduring institutions came about as desperate responses to crises. The US dollar peg, surely one of our most successful economic anchors, was created in response to the Hong Kong currency crisis of 1983. We inherited our public housing, education and health care systems and our anti-graft law enforcement from the colonial Brits. I follow the idea of economist and author Leo Goodstadt that they came about not out of enlightened colonialism but as reactions to social and political crises and pressures that had built up since the 1950s and 1960s.

The success of "one country, two systems" and its promise of 50 years without change have become dependent on those pillar institutions. But those same institutions, devised in another century, are proving to be inadequate, and we are doing a very poor job of rebuilding them. A functioning government is one that is capable of running those key institutions, identifying their deficiencies and fixing them.

But with a perfect political storm looming over democratic reform, our government itself has become the problem.

Share

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive
 
 

 

17

This article is now closed to comments

5403a81b-f6d0-4f5e-88c5-08ec0a3209ca
These pillar institutions must evolve along with societies needs. The people cause change, not governments. Governments just finally accept the public will and accommodate it. Hong Kong will influence the mainland almost as much as the mainland influences it. It is 'just' a matter of who perseveres longest and best.
pslhk
McG’s the Party became an instant hit when published
I found myself in two occasions when it was discussed
and was given a copy which stays mostly unread in my collection
-
Anyone with friends in Chinese SOEs and reads gossips from the likes of 爭嗚
would have been familiar with and not surprised by the bureaucratic mechanism
I understand that a Singapore professor has published a more in-depth analysis
-
But what impressed me most was a HKU publication on a similar topic
by a noticeable HK lawyer-politician-bureaucrat-author
or, as a Cantonese in plain-talking would call: a cesspit axe
That local production was really rubbish
So much about HK’s international standard
-
For those who “can write” English
unless you’re at least as wise as ALo
you’d better try law or politics,
heaven for pretentious mediocre
intellectual social analysis isn’t right for simpletons
Remember ALi, Stupid Mo, king plagiarist, f-arting foolsyama, …
mediocrity is a specialty with its own masters
pslhk
This forum is more than a Hyde Park corner
It is a court of public opinion and record
Opinions change as society develops
current opinions are preserved
for future judgments
-
After stripping the new clothes of core value
ALo may wish to do the same with “rule of law”
a much abused legalistic sales pitch
just like M Scott has begun the respectable work of removing
the colonial varnish of HK’s so-called “judicial independence”
****www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1580878/no-need-fear-beijings-white-paper-says-top-uk-judge-lord-neuberger#comment-114458
(27AUG, 2:15 and 2:51pm)
-
This writing is between hiking and a dinner appointment
I expect to write more later tonight
dienw
No, please spare us your pretentious dribblings...oh, too late.
pslhk
Good morning paradox
-
The real monkey is the one who taught the occupiers
that “international” can do without India, Indonesia,
the Philippines, Brazil, … all those densely populated
“developing” and “under-developed” countries
many of which being Sammy’s buddies
blessed with ultra cheap labor
and “real democracy”,
-
Paradoxical “international” parochialism
has blinded you from seeing 1950/60 China
in the real historical context
-
A self-styled paradox
without contradicting yourself
you may keep reading my comments
-
More fun to read your seemingly intellectual babbles
than the real scholarism stuff of Ali
and his legalistic cronies
Paradox314
pslk - A monkey who couldn't find his poopshute with 2 hands would have had the same result with China's economy given the enormous pool of cheap labour in China and the enormously well developed world market for it's cheaply produced goods. No credit goes to the Communist Party for that!
.
And quite frankly I'm so sick of your doggerel that i don't read your posts anymore.
.
If anyone is simplistic in their thinking it will most certainly be a person raised within a communist milieu. Such an individual would be less capable of integrating diverse perspectives to come to more complex and accurate conclusions. That's the very nature of communism, little buddy. You are the one whose thinking has been whittled down to a one track perspective. So before you go around accusing others of being simple minded you better spend a little time having open dialogue with yourself.
pslhk
AL
A mustached big boy like you with four dogs
won’t need a pat on the shoulder
but here’s one from me
Good Work
pslhk
Paradox314
You have been brainwashed
to think in over-simplistic and misleading labels
-
The CCP has in the shortest time raised the living standards
by a historically most impressive extent
of historically the greatest number of people
not just in China but all over the world
thru means that are entirely peaceful
-
The only totalitarianism that concerns you and is real
is the one that has been planted in your coconut
That’s why you try to advertise your foolishness
without knowing that you’re mouthing rubbish
and why you have picked up f arting Foolsyama
a squeezed lemon from the sewer and put it in your tea

Paradox314
Funny thing is the CCP starved 50 to 100 million of their own countrymen to death because of sheer stupidity and stubborn egomania between 1958 & 1961. So why don't you stand by your heroes and go chase the sparrows into the vastness of your ignorance and plant the seeds a little deeper in the dark soil of your free (because ain't worth anything) verse.
r6b
Both your China comments are right - except that Paradox is not quoting today's reality - but rather what occurred 2 generations in the past.
I hope CCP continues its current progress and continues to raise the quality of life for its citizens

Pages

 
 
 
 
 

Login

SCMP.com Account

or