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The "committee politics" that worked in the pre-handover era is out of date as direct public participation in politics has become the mainstream, says City University social studies lecturer Dr Brian Fong Chi-hang.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