Carrie Lam is right to distance herself from CY’s failed policies
Hong Kong’s new leader is only doing what’s best for the city: reopening Civic Square and revisiting the controversial Mandatory Provident Fund scheme
Reversing the misguided policies of your predecessor is just common sense, and Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor is doing precisely that with two glaringly obvious ones from the previous administration. It has nothing to do with trying to shed her “CY2.0” label, something which most people know was a cynical attempt by pan-democrats and supporters of rival candidate John Tsang Chun-wah to associate her with the unpopular Leung Chun-ying during the leadership race.
Having failed to reform a key part of the Mandatory Provident Fund scheme for almost five years, Leung and Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, his long-time labour chief and now chief secretary, tried to ram through a proposal that managed to antagonise leaders from both labour unions and the business community.
Meanwhile, Leung refused to reopen Civic Square – located outside the government’s Admiralty headquarters – long after its closure at the start of the Occupy protests in 2014. There is more than a little irony that the people of Hong Kong are denied access to a public square so named, presumably to encourage openness between the public and the government.
It’s a no-brainer that Civic Square should be reopened as soon as possible. As a symbolic gesture, it will make Lam look more open and conciliatory. As for security concerns, well, the police headquarters is just a block away. If the square becomes once again a magnet for protesters, so be it. I would rather see them doing it outside government offices to inconvenience officials – who are paid to deal with this sort of thing – than the public.
As for the MPF reform aiming at better compensation for workers being sacked or made redundant, it’s clear that there can be no deal unless representatives from both labour and business agree to one. This means despite all the fireworks and fanfare from Leung and Chung in the past month, the new administration under Lam will have to renegotiate all over again.
Having failed miserably with the MPF reform, Chung should stay out of the way as chief secretary. Unlike Chung, a career civil servant, Law Chi-kwong, the new secretary for labour and welfare, enjoys good relationships with labour leaders. And, as a moderate democrat, he is sympathetic to the concerns of small- and medium-sized businesses. Lam and Law together may yet have a better shot at reforming the MPF.