JANUARY 2010, NUMBER SEVENTEEN
DOES HONG KONG HAVE THE POLICY VISION NEEDED FOR THE COMING YEARS?
By Leung Chun-ying
Not according to Leung Chun-ying, considered by many the leading candidate to succeed Donald Tsang in 2012 as the government's next chief executive. He describes two specific areas for which he contends current administration policies falls short. One is failure to address effectively the growing rich-poor divide in Hong Kong, which has some of the world's wealthiest people yet a growing number of those who live near the poverty line. The other concerns a perceived failure to assert Hong Kong's voice strongly enough when mainland China and, in particular, governments in the adjacent Pearl River Delta make economic decisions which affect the city's future. But Mr. Leung, convenor of the government's Executive Council (cabinet), doesn't endorse a more democratic political system as part of the solution.
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By Leo Goodstadt
The growing income gap in Hong Kong reflects badly on its government and leaders, writes Leo Goodstadt, adjunct professor at Trinity College Dublin and former head of the Hong Kong Government's Central Policy Unit. He believes official policies regarding education, pensions and wages, and health care fall far short of what is needed—and that the main arguments against expanding social welfare programs are groundless. Hong Kong can afford to do much more, and the record shows that its people don't want to become wards of the government if they can avoid it. Because the current governing system clearly has failed, he argues that a more democratic, and publicly accountable, administration would do better.
TAIWAN AND HONG KONG RE-EMBRACE EACH OTHER
By Yun-han Chu
With the improvement of cross-strait relations since Ma Ying-jeou became president of Taiwan, relations between Hong Kong and Taiwan have likewise changed dramatically for the better, writes Yun-han Chu, political science professor at Taipei's Academica Sinica and the National University of Taiwan. Official exchanges and assorted economic agreements have become commonplace, partly because China still hopes the Hong Kong experience will set an example that Taiwan will follow. The similarities between the two, and their common interests, are much greater than generally realized, he writes, yet most Taiwan people don't want to be governed like Hong Kong.
By Glenn Shive
Hong Kong has decided to make itself a regional center for university education as part of its economic development plan, and has the resources to do so, writes Glenn Shive, director of the Hong Kong America Center at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Though its eight public universities already attract mainland Chinese students—worried about deteriorating standards there—Hong Kong also wants university expansion to bring in others from around Asia as well as from developed Western nations. The goals are both to upgrade skills of potential employees of local businesses and create educational sector jobs, along with collecting more tuition fees from foreigners. This can be done without shutting out local students for whom taxpayers built the system, but sensible policy requires that change comes cautious as part of a long term approach.
By Erdong Chen
Hong Kong has developed a strong civil society, thanks largely a wide variety of unofficial organizations concerned with political and social affairs, and this could set a positive example for the rest of China, according to Erdong Chen, a Chinese student at American University in Washington, DC. Over the longer term, one result could be governments with more accountability and transparency on both sides of the border.
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By Robert Keatley
The decade ended with Hong Kong recovering from the worst effects of the global financial crisis but 2010 doesn't promise tranquility on the either the economic or political fronts, writes Robert Keatley, editor of the Hong Kong Journal. An asset bubble, caused by huge money inflows from China and elsewhere, could bring problems later in the year if world interest rates rise as predicted. And the government limited electoral reform proposals have caused pro-democracy forces to seek a showdown in an effort to guarantee that universal suffrage will be delivered as promised.