My Take

Hong Kong's civil service is among the best in the world

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 18 July, 2015, 2:15am
UPDATED : Saturday, 18 July, 2015, 2:15am

Having studied, lived and worked in several major cities in North America, I am still in awe of the super-efficiency and courteousness of our civil service.

I know this may sound a shocking or absurd statement given the extreme unpopularity of the administration of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying. But here I separate the civil service's delivery of public services from the administration's policy formulation and constitutional-political system.

The latter may be deeply flawed and unstable but I am only commenting on public services as delivered to customers and stakeholders, and that's us. I would think it's beyond doubt that in terms of "face-time" or person-to-person interactions, our government services must score pretty high even among countries in the developed world. You doubt it? Try get your car licence renewed in New York.

Our government has been ranked the fourth most efficient in the world in the annual Global Competitiveness Report produced by the World Economic Forum. And almost immediately, people ridicule the ranking.

People love to complain, especially when they are as pampered as some foreigners in Hong Kong. Perhaps they should compare the civil service's efficiency of their home countries.

When it comes to getting your smart-ID card; going through customs at the airport; receiving free rabies vaccine for your dogs; getting the fire services to check on your neighbour's blocking emergency exits; getting birth, death and marriage certificates (all of which I have had to do in the past several years); getting your car licence renewed; and being interrogated by police over a traffic accident - all these and more, I think Hong Kong offers a most efficient and least unpleasant public service.

Despite the muck-raking by Occupy Central activists and their sympathisers, our police are still among the least brutal and corrupt, and that's compared to most Western police forces.

And oh, by the way, don't knock Rwanda for being ranked seventh on the list. President Paul Kagame runs a tight ship in post-holocaust Rwanda, which enjoys multi-year double-digit growth for more than a decade and the praises of the likes of World Bank and the IMF.