Hong Kong’s inefficient civil service has led to divisions in society

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 September, 2017, 5:28pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 September, 2017, 9:51pm

Issues such as the disqualification of some lawmakers, freedom of speech at universities and the growing influence of Beijing in Hong Kong, are inextricably linked to an absence of good local government.

We need to focus on the inefficiency of the civil service in Hong Kong. The government spends billions of dollars on consultants and then ignores the recommendations they make. I cannot remember a single study that was commissioned by the administration and then adopted.

We have a society where the rich-poor gap is getting wider, 20 years after the handover. I believe the main reason for this growing inequality is that the civil service is not efficient (with departments having overlapping responsibilities), and not accountable either.

Papers are pushed from one bureau to the next with no notable results. Top officials retire with a massive pension, having achieved nothing. We pour tonnes of concrete into the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge and West Kowloon express rail terminus, but fail to solve major problems in society.

The civil service must be overhauled, with complete transparency and an end to overlapping. The Lands Department will deal with land, the Housing Department with housing, the Marine Department with marine matters, and so on.

They can be self-contained, and still communicate and cooperate with each other. Having a more efficient bureaucracy will lead to redundancies, but if our leaders are seen to be acting, this could help to bridge the divisions in our society.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor must recognise that students, and pro-democracy and independence advocates are not her real enemies. Her enemy is a substandard civil service, which many citizens see as serving vested interests instead of the society as a whole. She should reflect on these problems and make the necessary changes.

Peter den Hartog, Tuen Mun