The Hong Kong SAR Government is less open than the previous administration and the Office of the Chief Executive, Tung Chee-hwa, is the most secretive within the whole Government. These are the results of a survey conducted by the Hong Kong Journalists Association on its members. Although foreign correspondents were not polled, it is likely they would have supported their Hong Kong colleagues' observations. It has been a short time since the handover. Already, foreign journalists are complaining about Mr Tung's inaccessibility and local reporters are grumbling about how little news they can get from the chief's office. This is a big contrast to what they were used to when Chris Patten was governor. Was not Mr Tung as active as Mr Patten in meeting the press and talking to the media before the handover? What has prompted his office to become less accessible? Are the senior officials who decline media enquiries not the same as those who served under Mr Patten? One simple answer is that the survey findings reflect Mr Tung's governing style - the relative inaccessibility of his office to the media must have his personal stamp of approval. Clearly, Mr Tung is not media-shy. If he wants to, he is fully capable of handling the media, both local and overseas. The smooth transition on July 1 last year changed the scene - his proactive approach before the handover was most likely prompted by the need to counter any salvos fired from the Patten office. But now, given that Mr Tung does not have to be on the defensive, it is obvious he has abandoned media-oriented governing style. Perhaps he believes that putting together good policies and making them work is more important than playing the public relations game. He may think that meeting the media is a waste of time as most journalists are only interested in negative news, and giving access only creates opportunities for them to attack him or his administration. He may even consider it pathetic that a government should govern by thinking about what will be in the newspaper headlines tomorrow, a central theme of Mr Patten's governing style. Mr Tung may not see himself as a politician and, therefore, staging political shows for the public is not his cup of tea. If any of these considerations partly or fully explains Mr Tung's attitude, then he should seriously reassess his position. Apart from setting a bad example for his officials, the price of keeping the media at bay is more misunderstandings over both the administration and the policies it pursues. The bad publicity the Government has received in its handling of the bird flu problem should demonstrate what damage can be done by not reaching out to the media. If Mr Tung had responded more promptly to queries when the problem arose, the public might not have formed the impression that the top leadership was not fully in command of the situation. If the Government had fully briefed the foreign media in the early stages, misleading reports might not have become news. Overseas tourists, merchandisers and investors might not have cancelled their trips to Hong Kong and the tourism industry might not have suffered another blow. Mr Tung can be sceptical, but it does not change the fact that, for government policies to work, they have to be largely acceptable to the community. And public perception, inevitably, is influenced by what is reported in the media. Hong Kong is not a closed society and the media can still look to other sources for information if the administration fails to be open and accessible. But the result is that the Government risks losing its version of the story which may not prove helpful for an administration which wants to carry out its policies effectively.