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  • Dec 23, 2014
  • Updated: 3:27am
NewsHong Kong

CY's 'committee politics' plan doomed to fail, say critics

Chief executive's elite middlemen idea ignores public's engagement in politics, say observers

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 28 January, 2013, 10:02am

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's proposal of appointing elites to advisory committees to serve as middlemen between the government and society is doomed to fail, according to some of his critics.

The "committee politics" that worked in the pre-handover era is out of date as direct public participation in politics has become the mainstream, says City University social studies lecturer Dr Brian Fong Chi-hang.

Fong was among six people invited to air their views on Leung's maiden policy address in the latest SCMP Debate.

Leung's strategy to set up more advisory committees was a step in the wrong direction, said Fong. "He should forge a broader political consensus by directly engaging the public in his policy-making process," he said.

Ada Wong Ying-kay, the Institute of Contemporary Culture's chief executive, agreed, saying: "Committees comprising a few busy part-time members cannot drive policy formulation. [They are] only a political move that will not bring about … the best policy options."

In his policy address on January 16, Leung said he would set up a number of new committees to advise on policy issues. They include the Economic Development Commission, Financial Services Development Council and Harbourfront Authority.

There was not much else Leung could do to effect policy changes because "he is not a well-recognised leader as he was elected by a small group of people", said human resources worker Joyce Lee Hoi-yee. "His power is very limited."

The chairman of the Federation of Hong Kong Industries, Roy Chung Chi-ping, said the committees could help the government better understand key issues and mobilise stakeholders' support. "There are no quick and simple solutions," he said.

Edwin Lau Che-feng, director of Friends of the Earth, accused Leung of procrastinating. The waste reduction measures mentioned in his blueprint were ideas that had been floated since former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa's time, he said.

Council of Social Service business director Chua Hoi-wai said: "The government should … plan ahead instead of reacting to problems only when they have become serious."


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More nonsense from social science academics. Let's pick apart the illogical gibberish.
"He (CY Leung, CE) should forge a broader political consensus by directly engaging the public in his policy-making process."
If there are one thousand opinions in different directions, how do you forge a consensus? You still need someone to extract some coherent information and rationalize away the randomness in those opinions. Some elite must be appointed for the job.
The above quoted statement is even worse than how it reads. How do you start collecting inputs for a broad consensus without first having someone to frame the relevant issues? To frame the issue, filter out nonsense and compile the relevant information, you need the much derogated elite once again.
I am glad I don't have to take courses from these academics. Nor did I have to teach students like them in my introductory physical science classes. Then why do reporters keep quoting these experts?
Indeed, just the other day, an opinion writer in this publication, an Italian no less, compared these self-deluded airheads on high moral ground of soi disant democracy to be akin to those effete Roman senators with vested interests in the time of Emperor Nero.
Dr. Fong is both right and wrong of her comment on Leung’s proposal for committees. She is right if the committees are an extension of politics – ‘committee politics’ of the ruling by the colonial days including Tsang’s. They transformed into window dressing means to achieve a predetermined outcome by committees. They were also used too to silence the oppositions by co-opting them into the fold. Any government encountering unusual problem should set up an ad hoc committee for advice. There should be straight rules – open and fair in selecting committee membership. Time limit shall be imposed too. Leung’s administration should also be reminded that the committees shouldn’t be a substitute for his blocked governing reform request. Were the reform be granted its operation too is subjected to oversight by the legislature just as the Executive branch should.


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