Officiating at the annual awards presentation ceremony for the Civil Service Outstanding Service Award Scheme last Thursday, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor heaped huge praise on three government departments for their service to the community.
The first one was the Drainage Services Department, which deserved credit for having come up with an innovative plan to install a giant stormwater storage tank underneath the Happy Valley Recreation Ground, a project that has proven instrumental in preventing major flooding on the Hong Kong Island during the recent rainstorms in the city.
The second government agency praised by the CE was the Fire Services Department, which, Lam said, deserved credit for demonstrating remarkable professionalism and gallantry in rescuing two mainland hikers who were stranded at the Kowloon Peak during the signal No.10 typhoon in August.
And the third government department praised by Lam was the Hong Kong Police, which took the silver prize in the “Best Public Image Award”.
As Lam put it, “our police force is not afraid of being smeared!”
True, the three government departments do deserve credit and our respect for their outstanding and selfless service, and Lam is undoubtedly very proud of them.
That said, we believe there is absolutely no room for complacency when it comes to the overall performance of our civil service, as over the past few years there has been no shortage of examples of government departments failing to do their job properly.
For instance, the recent ban imposed by mainland authorities on the imports of highly polluting waste plastic and unsorted scrap paper, a measure that has thrown the Hong Kong recycling industry into total disarray, is to a considerable extent an indictment of our poor waste sorting policy.
The Environmental Protection Department should be held accountable for that failure.
And then there are the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, the Housing Department and the Buildings Department, which have almost routinely come under fire in recent years from the Office of the Ombudsman for poor service and negligence.
Apart from that, the increasingly frequent medical accidents in our public hospitals as well as our poorly conceived education policies have also taken a heavy toll on public confidence in our government.
Given that, while our CE is so eager to praise civil servants who have done their job with flying colors, perhaps she should also not be hesitant to blow the whistle on those who are not doing their job properly.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Sept 8
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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