18 January 2020
Hong Kong's chief executives haven't been able to accomplish all that they wanted to do due to factors beyond their control, says Tung Chee-hwa. Photo: HKEJ
Hong Kong's chief executives haven't been able to accomplish all that they wanted to do due to factors beyond their control, says Tung Chee-hwa. Photo: HKEJ

Tung Chee-hwa blames system for governance failures since 1997

Hong Kong’s former leader Tung Chee-hwa acknowledged Monday that city’s governance post the 1997 handover hasn’t been as effective as that envisioned in the Basic Law.

He laid the blame on a defective system where the chief executive is not a leader of any political party while lawmakers come from various parties representing all kinds of interests.

Speaking at a luncheon hosted by Our Hong Kong Foundation, a think tank that he founded in 2014, Tung said bluntly that all chief executives since 1997 were faced with the reality that they couldn’t implement policies as effectively as they hoped.

The executive-led system has failed in some respects, Tung said, citing disputes among various groups and frictions in society.

Responding to the remarks, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam noted that Tung — who was Hong Kong’s first chief executive after the city’s return to Chinese sovereignty in 1997 — is a person with rich experience in administration and that his words were coming “from the bottom of his heart”.

While admitting that governance is becoming increasingly difficult, Lam however refused to put the blame on anyone, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.

Tung suggested that the government allow more participation by the pro-establishment camp in administration and governance to build closer ties, but he reminded the camp to focus more on the overall interests of Hong Kong instead of just working to further their own interests.

As for the pan-democratic camp, Tung urged the “opposition faction” to play a constructive role in a rational manner.

Differences are normal among various groups in a democratic society, he said.

The government, meanwhile, should deal with the opposition through enhanced communication and seek to resolve differences by compromise, Tung said.

Lau Siu-kai, vice-chairman of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong & Macao Studies, said it is not impossible for the chief executive to form an alliance with the pro-establishment camp or his supporters.

However, such move could worry Beijing due to concerns that the leader will get caught up in party politics, said Lau, who was among the attendees at the Monday luncheon.

Liberal party chairman Felix Chung Kwok-pan said the government should communicate with all parties rather than just cooperate with the pro-establishment camp.

In other comments Monday, Tung slammed those in favor of Hong Kong independence.

The former chief executive stressed that it is imperative to prevent a small number of radical localists from promoting such ideology.

Independence or self-determination moves will not only be against the city’s constitution and law, they will also jeopardize Hong Kong’s economic development, Tung warned.

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Hong Kong Economic Journal