Mike Rowse

Mike Rowse

Mike Rowse has lived in Hong Kong since 1972, and is a naturalised Chinese citizen. He spent six years in the ICAC from 1974 to 1980, then 28 years in the government as an administrative officer until retirement in December 2008. He is now the search director for Stanton Chase International, and also hosts a radio talk show and writes regularly for both English and Chinese media.

Latest from Mike Rowse

Opinion | Hong Kong must reopen to the world before it’s too late

The longer Hong Kong is closed off, the greater the risk of being surpassed by rivals and fading into economic irrelevance. If this means a further delay in reopening the border with the mainland, so be it.

The longer Hong Kong is closed off, the greater the risk of being surpassed by rivals and fading into economic irrelevance. If this means a further delay in reopening the border with the mainland, so be it.

8 May 2022 - 12:15PM
Opinion | How to get Hong Kong fully behind Article 23 national security legislation

It is important to learn from past failures so we not only succeed this time, but do so in a way that helps to ease, rather than exacerbate, tensions.

It is important to learn from past failures so we not only succeed this time, but do so in a way that helps to ease, rather than exacerbate, tensions.

24 Apr 2022 - 1:30PM
Opinion | Chief executive election 2022: as John Lee’s rise shows, there’s never a dull moment in Hong Kong politics

The former policeman only came to prominence in 2019 and right up to his appointment as chief secretary last year, was not considered in the running to be chief executive. But his rise also raises a host of new questions, on the future of administrative officers as the elite of government, for one.

The former policeman only came to prominence in 2019 and right up to his appointment as chief secretary last year, was not considered in the running to be chief executive. But his rise also raises a host of new questions, on the future of administrative officers as the elite of government, for one.

15 Apr 2022 - 2:57PM
Opinion | Hong Kong’s easing of pandemic control measures is welcome in principle, but offers few benefits in practice

The new rules seem like cause for celebration until you read the fine print: mass testing has been scrapped yet schools remain closed; the flight ban has been lifted but countries can be blacklisted later; and quarantine for arrivals has been reduced, but a positive test still results in further isolation.

The new rules seem like cause for celebration until you read the fine print: mass testing has been scrapped yet schools remain closed; the flight ban has been lifted but countries can be blacklisted later; and quarantine for arrivals has been reduced, but a positive test still results in further isolation.

27 Mar 2022 - 1:45PM
Opinion | How to end Hong Kong’s fifth wave, and make the city feel more like home again and less like a prison

The top priority must be to vaccinate the vulnerable, followed by targeting quarantine, social distancing and mask mandates. The faster a coherent strategy to end the pandemic emerges, the sooner Hongkongers’ morale will return.

The top priority must be to vaccinate the vulnerable, followed by targeting quarantine, social distancing and mask mandates. The faster a coherent strategy to end the pandemic emerges, the sooner Hongkongers’ morale will return.

13 Mar 2022 - 1:30PM
Opinion | How Carrie Lam’s Omicron failures forced Beijing to take over

After a litany of failures that include the birthday party scandal, Beijing has assembled a team in Shenzhen to take control of Hong Kong’s pandemic situation. Beijing has been driven to intervene again – because the administration has failed to deliver.

After a litany of failures that include the birthday party scandal, Beijing has assembled a team in Shenzhen to take control of Hong Kong’s pandemic situation. Beijing has been driven to intervene again – because the administration has failed to deliver.

28 Feb 2022 - 8:15AM
Opinion | How Hong Kong has made a hash of mainland’s ‘dynamic zero’ Covid-19 policy

The administration has co-opted the term but applies it differently, and even Carrie Lam struggles to explain what it means. The mainland comes down harshly only when and where cases are detected; otherwise, life is unaffected – unlike in Hong Kong

The administration has co-opted the term but applies it differently, and even Carrie Lam struggles to explain what it means. The mainland comes down harshly only when and where cases are detected; otherwise, life is unaffected – unlike in Hong Kong

14 Feb 2022 - 9:45AM
Opinion | Hong Kong must stop protecting the unvaccinated and punishing everyone else

Even if the mainland chooses to stick to its zero-Covid policy, Hong Kong should be free to pursue a different strategy to preserve its status as a travel hub. Hong Kong’s current policy can be summed up as: protect the unvaccinated, punish the vaccinated, and if in doubt sacrifice the children.

Even if the mainland chooses to stick to its zero-Covid policy, Hong Kong should be free to pursue a different strategy to preserve its status as a travel hub. Hong Kong’s current policy can be summed up as: protect the unvaccinated, punish the vaccinated, and if in doubt sacrifice the children.

31 Jan 2022 - 10:45AM
Opinion | What is Hong Kong actually doing to reduce poverty among workers and the elderly?

The minimum wage, barely enough to support a family, should have been raised last year instead of being frozen at 2019 rates. A rise in the retirement age is also inevitable as the working population shrinks and the number of unemployed elderly increases.

The minimum wage, barely enough to support a family, should have been raised last year instead of being frozen at 2019 rates. A rise in the retirement age is also inevitable as the working population shrinks and the number of unemployed elderly increases.

16 Jan 2022 - 2:30PM
Opinion | Hong Kong’s new lawmakers must reach out to the city’s youth and foreign businesses

Legislators should start by listening to the city’s disillusioned youth and setting them on a more prosperous path. They must also assuage the international business community’s concerns about the national security laws and Covid-19 travel restrictions.

Legislators should start by listening to the city’s disillusioned youth and setting them on a more prosperous path. They must also assuage the international business community’s concerns about the national security laws and Covid-19 travel restrictions.

2 Jan 2022 - 2:30PM
Opinion | Is a 700 sq ft home really too much to ask for Hong Kong families?

We know the private sector is not going to build enough decent-sized flats at affordable prices. So the government needs to get past its fear of antagonising vested interests and start building the units itself, whether for rental or sale.

We know the private sector is not going to build enough decent-sized flats at affordable prices. So the government needs to get past its fear of antagonising vested interests and start building the units itself, whether for rental or sale.

31 Oct 2021 - 2:15PM
Opinion | Unlike Singapore, Hong Kong might be stuck with ‘zero Covid’ even if it wants to open up

Hong Kong has a zero-tolerance policy like the mainland, but it lacks the domestic economy to thrive in isolation and the autonomy to change course. Singapore is opening up and could profit if Hong Kong remains hermetically sealed off.

Hong Kong has a zero-tolerance policy like the mainland, but it lacks the domestic economy to thrive in isolation and the autonomy to change course. Singapore is opening up and could profit if Hong Kong remains hermetically sealed off.

17 Oct 2021 - 2:39PM
Opinion | Legco’s past and future: Hong Kong must examine what both camps got wrong

There is an effort now to blame the 2019 unrest on outsiders. How much better it might have been if the patriots had set the government right on the extradition bill. As for the pan-democrats, their failure to condemn the violence revealed a lack of leadership.

There is an effort now to blame the 2019 unrest on outsiders. How much better it might have been if the patriots had set the government right on the extradition bill. As for the pan-democrats, their failure to condemn the violence revealed a lack of leadership.

1 Dec 2021 - 2:20PM
Opinion | Election Committee has much to consider as race to be Hong Kong’s next chief executive hots up

Leung Chun-ying appears to have taken himself out of the running for a return to Hong Kong’s top job, but several hopefuls are still in the race, and the incumbent is fighting on.

Leung Chun-ying appears to have taken himself out of the running for a return to Hong Kong’s top job, but several hopefuls are still in the race, and the incumbent is fighting on.

20 Sep 2021 - 9:45AM
Opinion | Time to end Hong Kong’s vaccine dithering and get on with the jab

It is clear that under Hong Kong’s present policies, we will never reach herd immunity and resume normal life. Our urgent priorities should be new, cogent measures to drive up first vaccinations and booster shots for those already vaccinated.

It is clear that under Hong Kong’s present policies, we will never reach herd immunity and resume normal life. Our urgent priorities should be new, cogent measures to drive up first vaccinations and booster shots for those already vaccinated.

5 Sep 2021 - 1:15PM
Opinion | What to expect from elections for Hong Kong’s reformed legislature

Understandably, Beijing lost patience with lawmakers’ antics that left Legco unable to function, but the pendulum on political reform has swung too far. Order will be restored, but killing hope for the future is not good for stability in the longer term.

Understandably, Beijing lost patience with lawmakers’ antics that left Legco unable to function, but the pendulum on political reform has swung too far. Order will be restored, but killing hope for the future is not good for stability in the longer term.

22 Aug 2021 - 1:30PM
Opinion | Hong Kong has much to offer, even for those who choose to leave

Everyone who decides to change nationality has their own reasons, and there are many grounds for people to stay in Hong Kong. If things do not work out well for those who seek a new life abroad, they will always be welcome back.

Everyone who decides to change nationality has their own reasons, and there are many grounds for people to stay in Hong Kong. If things do not work out well for those who seek a new life abroad, they will always be welcome back.

8 Aug 2021 - 2:30PM
Opinion | Hong Kong faces an uncertain future without a firm hand to drive Covid-19 vaccinations

The sobering forecast that we face at least one more year of living with pandemic restrictions should push Hong Kong’s political and economic leaders to take a much tougher line to reach herd immunity.

The sobering forecast that we face at least one more year of living with pandemic restrictions should push Hong Kong’s political and economic leaders to take a much tougher line to reach herd immunity.

25 Jul 2021 - 1:30PM
Opinion | How Hong Kong’s second stab at Article 23 can avoid the mistakes of 2003

Imagine if all sides handled this calmly, maturely and with maximum transparency, with sincere attempts to find common ground rather than inflammatory oratory.

Imagine if all sides handled this calmly, maturely and with maximum transparency, with sincere attempts to find common ground rather than inflammatory oratory.

11 Jul 2021 - 12:45PM
Opinion | Where’s Hong Kong plan to ensure vaccinated travellers can come and go freely?

The partial relaxation of quarantine rules sounds like a reasonable step forwards, but in truth it amounts to very little. The government must take decisive action to increase Hong Kong’s vaccination rate instead of relying on interim measures.

The partial relaxation of quarantine rules sounds like a reasonable step forwards, but in truth it amounts to very little. The government must take decisive action to increase Hong Kong’s vaccination rate instead of relying on interim measures.

27 Jun 2021 - 2:30PM
Opinion | In search of viable chief executive candidates for Hong Kong

Leaving aside C.Y. Leung and Carrie Lam, it is a real struggle to identify enough viable candidates to provide the appearance of a contest. This has led some to suggest that we revert to the old system under the British, whereby we are simply sent a governor selected by the parent government.

Leaving aside C.Y. Leung and Carrie Lam, it is a real struggle to identify enough viable candidates to provide the appearance of a contest. This has led some to suggest that we revert to the old system under the British, whereby we are simply sent a governor selected by the parent government.

14 Jun 2021 - 9:30AM
Opinion | Why British navy’s South China Sea trip only shows fealty to US

Sending the HMS Queen Elizabeth halfway around the world makes no sense when China poses no military threat to British interests. It is hard to see any rationale behind the move other than the UK trying to secure a favourable trade deal with the US.

Sending the HMS Queen Elizabeth halfway around the world makes no sense when China poses no military threat to British interests. It is hard to see any rationale behind the move other than the UK trying to secure a favourable trade deal with the US.

31 May 2021 - 1:03AM
Opinion | Government hesitancy about pushing vaccination is costing Hong Kong

From the point of view of the individual, vaccine hesitancy is perfectly logical, yet at the societal level it represents disaster. But the government hesitates to provide leadership, fearing a backlash from those who must face short-term hardship or the risk of side effects.

From the point of view of the individual, vaccine hesitancy is perfectly logical, yet at the societal level it represents disaster. But the government hesitates to provide leadership, fearing a backlash from those who must face short-term hardship or the risk of side effects.

17 May 2021 - 8:30AM
Opinion | Coronavirus vaccine: let’s finish the job of controlling the pandemic and reopening

It is important to recognise that all the good work Hong Kong has done up to now in social distancing, working from home and so on is not the end of the story. For our economy to recover, we have to reach herd immunity.

It is important to recognise that all the good work Hong Kong has done up to now in social distancing, working from home and so on is not the end of the story. For our economy to recover, we have to reach herd immunity.

2 May 2021 - 6:00PM
Opinion | Path to herd immunity: Hongkongers should get the coronavirus vaccine for the good of society

The government’s proposal to make vaccination a condition for the relaxation of some social distancing measures has sparked criticism of discrimination. All except those with a bona fide medical reason not to be vaccinated should put the well-being of the community first.

The government’s proposal to make vaccination a condition for the relaxation of some social distancing measures has sparked criticism of discrimination. All except those with a bona fide medical reason not to be vaccinated should put the well-being of the community first.

18 Apr 2021 - 2:45PM
Opinion | Why I’m sitting out the Xinjiang cotton boycott

What may have begun as a genuine attempt to improve the lot of Uygur detainees seems to have become embroiled in a wider diplomatic exercise to attack China.

What may have begun as a genuine attempt to improve the lot of Uygur detainees seems to have become embroiled in a wider diplomatic exercise to attack China.

4 Jun 2021 - 9:28PM
Opinion | Hong Kong election reform: missed chances to shape city’s future must not be repeated

Beijing has lost patience and thrown out much of our political structure, a setback for the democratisation of Hong Kong. Those who still wish to remain involved in civic affairs need more transparency and information from officials.

Beijing has lost patience and thrown out much of our political structure, a setback for the democratisation of Hong Kong. Those who still wish to remain involved in civic affairs need more transparency and information from officials.

21 Mar 2021 - 2:30PM
Opinion | To save Hong Kong’s Ocean Park, why not move the zoo there?

Both Ocean Park and Disneyland are likely to bounce back in the short term, with the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions. But in the long run, Ocean Park needs to find a more distinctive focus to survive and thrive.

Both Ocean Park and Disneyland are likely to bounce back in the short term, with the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions. But in the long run, Ocean Park needs to find a more distinctive focus to survive and thrive.

7 Mar 2021 - 3:30PM
Opinion | If you are jobless or earn the minimum wage, Hong Kong is no place to be

The government’s decision to freeze the minimum wage while rejecting calls for unemployment support is a double whammy for the city’s vulnerable. Hong Kong should have done better on humane and social justice grounds.

The government’s decision to freeze the minimum wage while rejecting calls for unemployment support is a double whammy for the city’s vulnerable. Hong Kong should have done better on humane and social justice grounds.

21 Feb 2021 - 2:15PM
Opinion | What are the real intentions behind the BN(O) visa offer to Hongkongers: altruism or self-interest?

The Five Eyes’ narrative was that the national security law would crush freedom, and that they would offer a safe haven to the oppressed. But their linking of the issue to Xinjiang suggests they are more interested in targeting Beijing.

The Five Eyes’ narrative was that the national security law would crush freedom, and that they would offer a safe haven to the oppressed. But their linking of the issue to Xinjiang suggests they are more interested in targeting Beijing.

7 Feb 2021 - 3:18PM