My Take

CY Leung’s policy address fails to spell out the big ideas to take Hong Kong forward

Sure, he’s got grand plans to improve facilities at public toilets but what’s missing from his speech is the big picture

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 January, 2016, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 04 March, 2016, 2:59pm

It has become a law of governance in Hong Kong that the standards of the chief executive’s policy address will slip every year. Certainly, Leung Chun-ying did not disappoint yesterday.

A policy address is supposed to spell out for the public new ideas that will lead the local community forward and to lay out the rationale behind them. It should give people the big picture, but not so big as to be too remote and not too “micro” as to descend into minute details for the job instructions of low-level bureaucrats.

WATCH: What issues should CY Leung have talked about in his 2016 policy address according to lawmakers?

In that sense, the address yesterday was at once too big and too trivial. It devotes an inordinate amount of space to the nation’s development under the 13th national five-year plan and the path to closer mainland integration.

A whole section is committed to the “One Belt, One Road” initiative, now conveniently shortened to “Belt-and-Road”, with a dedicated office under that name and a committee of which Leung will be the chairman. Wow, aren’t you excited to be told so much about where the nation is heading and the role we can play in it? I am as proud of the motherland as the next Chinese but somehow, I suspect not too many Hong Kong people will be terribly mesmerised by the plan and the initiative or be directly affected by them.

Meanwhile, it’s not clear it’s the chief executive’s job to micro-manage the provision of seats at bus stops and non-slippery floors in public toilets; the lengthening of green traffic lights for pedestrians; and conducting improvement works in wet markets. He should spell out the direction in which services in those areas could be improved and let lowly bureaucrats figure out the rest. But he said he would provide “public toilets with non-slip surfaces, auto-sensor water taps and handrails according to prevailing design standards”.

READ MORE: Three surprises and two omissions: Leung Chun-ying’s last full-term Hong Kong policy address

Sorry, Mr Leung, that’s way more details than I need. But he does raise an interesting point: why did they make floors in public toilets slippery over so many years if not decades in the first place?

Hey, the floor is already wet all the time, let’s use slippery material to cover the floor. That’s how I imagine the thinking processes of municipal bureaucrats over years.

With so many officials being intellectually challenged, maybe Leung does have to micro-manage our public toilets. We should be glad he is now on the case.