Tactics used to push through express-rail money give cause for concern

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 April, 2016, 12:16am
UPDATED : Sunday, 03 April, 2016, 12:15am

Karl Marx said that administration is determined action taken in pursuit of a conscious purpose. It is the systematic ordering of affairs and the calculated use of resources aimed at making those happen which one wants to happen.

The chief executive has the right to exercise authority, and it is supposed that he makes those acts happen which he wants to happen. He is the executor on behalf of the public and therefore you should not have the feeling that he stands aloof of citizens. He is empowered by the mini-constitution under “one-country, two-systems”, the Basic Law. Before any major policy is formulated it should go through the proper processes of public consultation.

Maybe there was no intention to turn the high-speed rail-link project into a white elephant, but it has been maladministered. The spiralling construction costs cancel out whatever social benefits it may bring.

The relevant bodies have still failed to give reasonable responses to questions about the extra funding recently pushed through Legco’s Finance Committee. And it continues to be plagued by uncertainties.

Firstly, the issue of whether mainland immigration officers should be allowed to work in the rail link’s Hong Kong terminus, remains unresolved.

Secondly, the global economy is slowing down as is population growth in the Pearl River Delta region. In 2009 it was estimated that by 2031 the estimated number of daily users on the line would be 160,000, but last year this was revised downward to 149,000. Also expected gross domestic product growth is expected to be less than was originally thought in the delta region.

Thirdly, there is no guarantee from the government that any funds in addition to the sum approved by the committee of ­HK$16.9 billion will be available if needed in the future. Will it have enough funds to complete the project?

The attempt by the acting chairman of the Finance Committee to outmanoeuvre pan-democratic lawmakers’ with a snap vote on the extra funding does not bode well. It is wrong that minority voices in the committee were not give a chance to speak out. The government and the pro-establishment camp are not following legislative procedures.

Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah misinterpreted Moody’s downgrading of the credit rating of Hong Kong. Saying that having close links with the mainland is an opportunity for Hong Kong is not always the case.

Tony Au, head, department of humanities and liberal studies, G. T. (Ellen Yeung) College