The Hong Kong government has been accused of increasingly neglecting the use of English in communicating with the media and public while showing a clear bias in favour of Chinese. Critics say such an approach contravenes the equality principle laid down by the Official Languages Ordinance that requires the administration to use both Chinese and English in its official communication. A prime example is the policy of ministers penning Chinese-only blogs which began about eight years ago and is now a regular practice. No English translations are provided, even though the blogs often contain important policy ideas. Beyond blogs, there is also a growing trend of ministers delivering public speeches and statements in Chinese. When reporters ask follow-up questions, answers in English are rare. Setting the example is Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, who made 61 public speeches in Chinese over the 12 months to the end of May. He made 28 speeches in English over the same period. Only six speeches were either delivered in both languages or had English translations. In comparison, the city's first chief executive, Tung Chee-hwa, delivered 49 speeches either in both languages or in Chinese with English translations in 2004. Nine speeches were delivered in Chinese only and two speeches in English only. The government's news and media information website does not provide English translations of the chief executive's opening statements and Cantonese discussions during the Legislative Council's question-and-answer sessions. Former civil service chief Joseph Wong Wing-ping said he had been trying to highlight this inequality since leaving the government. He noted a growing disregard among officials for using English in public communication. "Even the chief executive doesn't lead by example," he said. "How will the others adhere to the standard practice? "It's ridiculous to see the SAR government which on one hand claims to be promoting a biliterate and trilingual culture, and Hong Kong as an international and financial city, but on the other hand is cutting down on the use of English for public communication." Civic Party lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching said there was a clear problem the government was refusing to acknowledge. "I have a feeling that the government is trying to shut down the use of English in order to emphasise the fact that Hong Kong is a mainland city and English is just a second language for Hongkongers," she said. "But this is not right since English shares an equal status with Chinese." Under the law, both Chinese and English are the city's official languages enjoying "equal status" and "equality of use" for the purposes of communication between the government or any public officer and the public. But practice does not match policy. Take Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah, for example. While he often emphasises the importance of upholding Hong Kong's status as an international city, he has written more than 340 blogs in Chinese only since July 2007 explaining his policy ideas and views on issues of concern to everyone in the city. In his defence, Tsang's press secretary said all his budget speeches, public policy announcements and press releases were published in both languages, and that his blog and Facebook posts were "additional" efforts. "Mr Tsang fully appreciates the importance of maintaining bilingual communication with the public," his press secretary said. "On each occasion, he uses the language most suitable to the circumstances." Development chief Paul Chan Mo-po, home affairs minister Tsang Tak-sing, labour and welfare chief Matthew Cheung Kin-chung and financial services chief Professor Chan Ka-keung are among other top officials who do not write blogs in English, or provide translations for them. Critics say the growing preference for Chinese has meant English-language media in the city and overseas have to rely on their own translations of government speeches and documents, which can often be technical and difficult to get right. "The government is simply irresponsible. Mistranslation will lead to a lot of misunderstandings. This is very unfair to journalists. The government can accuse journalists of misquoting it," said Mo. New People's Party lawmaker Michael Tien Puk-sun also noted Hong Kong was becoming politicised and the government focused more on a target audience that preferred Chinese. In response to the Post's inquiries, a spokesman for the Civil Service Bureau's Official Languages Division would only cite its general policy: "We fully appreciate the importance of maintaining bilingual communication with the public. Bureaus and departments will continue to be reminded to disseminate information bilingually."