Hong Kong’s governance challenge does not negate its progress

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 January, 2016, 10:31am
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 January, 2016, 10:31am

Your columnist David Dodwell (“Light without progress”, January 4) is concerned with the effect that the “embarrassing shambles” of democratic politics has had on good governance worldwide.

The introduction of democratic politics in Hong Kong over the past 30 years may well have led to an increase in political posturing and greater challenges for the government in implementing policies.

But the fact is that, over the past three decades, Hong Kong’s public housing, health, transportation, welfare and education services have greatly improved in terms of accessibility and quality.

We have introduced bills to outlaw discrimination and

anti-competitive conduct, and to implement minimum wage. These proposals all drew considerable interest and conflicting comment from various sectors of the community.

Nonetheless, the Hong Kong legislature successfully passed them into law.

At the same time, we have developed new towns in Ma On Shan, Tin Shui Wai, Tseung Kwan O and Tung Chung, linked them to affordable and convenient public transport systems, and built a new airport. A new cultural district and sports city are on the way and will further improve the quality of life for Hong Kong people.

The political stage is not for everyone. The patience, stamina and resilience required of our politicians and bureaucrats to reconcile conflicting priorities and devise workable compromises are indeed masked by the noise of the debating chamber.

But increasing the transparency of the governing process has not stopped Hong Kong moving forward, albeit at a more measured pace than we were used to in the freewheeling colonial era that preceded the signing of the Sino-British Joint Declaration.

The business sector is impatient with what it sees as politically driven foot-dragging in Hong Kong, whilst in mainland China, other cities steam ahead with major new projects.

But I count myself fortunate to live in a city where (due to the efforts of Hong Kong government over the past 30 years), we have fewer concerns about landslips and flooding, where the entire taxi and minibus fleets run on LPG and where we are allowed to ask questions about lead in water, the education of our primary school children and the social and environmental impact of new infrastructure.

Let’s keep the light on, please.

K. N. Mak, Mong Kok