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Top officials now remote figures

SCMP letters

Top officials now remote figures

Grenville Cross (“Principled stance”, December 23), Anthony Wong Kin-wai (“Open minds”, December 20) and Albert Cheng King-hon (“Standing still”, December 17) have identified serious and inherent weaknesses in Hong Kong’s governance.

We are supposed to have an accountable, executive-led government, but in truth we have administrative officers leading civil service bureaucrats.

The decline in the number of experienced professionals at the top of government departments (replaced by administrative officers) is a worrying trend.

The ingrained nature of bureaucrats is to avoid decision-making and to avoid criticism, and this results in a culture of inertia.

Conversely, the Hong Kong community encompasses great expertise, fast action and strong motivation situated within a compact location.

Sadly, the administration appears to see itself as a separate entity and the marriage of professional incompetence and arrogance has isolated the executive from this capable community.

The most senior officials have become remote figures to the media, having been exclusively replaced by the ubiquitous “spokesman”.

Public consultation has become purely procedural, and civic society gets fed up with addressing a stone wall.

An illustration of the malfunctioning system is the incinerator planned at Shek Kwu Chau.

The public has given so many valid reasons why this project falls severely short, and yet the government ploughs on regardless with its poorly considered plans, even knocking back a beneficial private sector initiative (Green Island Cement).

A major challenge for the new chief executive will be to engage the expertise of the Hong Kong community at the earliest stage and prior to policies and plans being set in concrete.

Government officials must humbly realise that their own experiences are far more limited than those in the “hurly-burly” of the private sector.

An executive-led system of government can only be effective when it fully meshes with civic society.

I. M. Wright, Happy Valley

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