(This article was also published on South China Morning Post on Dec 17, 2008 as a letter to the editor. The editor changed the title to "RTHK review: a case of broken promises.")
Our Chief Executive Mr. Donald Tsang might have charmed some people when in 2007 he made his re-election slogan “I’ll get my job done!”
But what exactly does it mean by “getting a job done?” Perhaps most people would agree that integrity is a necessary pre-condition of “getting a job done.” Do you want to hire an employee who says “Yes” to you but does “No” once you turn your back? How about a student who keeps breaking his promise that he will turn in his homework “next week”?
Now, how does Tsang’s administration measure up? Let’s look at the handling of the review on public service broadcasting in Hong Kong.
In March 2007, the Review Committee on Public Service Broadcasting, a committee appointed by Mr. Donald Tsang, unveiled their review report. While the report did not utter the phrase “shut down RTHK,” most readers inevitably concluded that was the obvious and ultimate recommendation. As a result, the public was outraged. To ease the tension, on May 17th, 2007, the Administration issued a written promise to the Legislative Council that there will be a public consultation in the second half of 2007. We now all know that the Government has broken that promise.
Government officials then signaled that the consultation paper would be released on January 29th, 2008. That sounds okay until Mr. Donald Tsang surprised everyone by revealing in the LegCo meeting on January 17th that the government was to postpone the consultation.
What’s next? Government officials privately signaled that there would be a consultation by the end of 2008. They did not say “at the appropriate juncture, in the fullness of time …＂as the master of stalling tactics Sir Humphrey Appleby said to his political master in the everlasting BBC comedy “Yes Prime Minister”. Rather, they promised that there will be a consultation “after the LegCo Election of September 2008.” Unfortunately, we just learned last week (Nov 16th, 2008) that they had decided to break their promise again. Mr. Duncan Warren Pescod, the permanent secretary in charge of this matter, confirmed that the consultation paper would not happen before the end of this year.
Dwight D. Eisenhower once said “The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity.” Yet in Hong Kong, our political leaders could break their promise thrice without facing any consequences. I believe this is part of the reason why our governance is in crisis now.
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