Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Approval ratings drop when accountability takes place in Hong Kong

No wonder the PAP is trying so hard, making use of the media, electoral reforms and other means, to prevent accountability in our parliament. They know too well that there is a heavy price to pay if the government policies and measures are open, transparent and subject to more questionings.

Donald Tsang, his term of office as chief executive of Hong Kong expires end of this month, claims that he is a victim of accountability.  He suffers a big drop in approval ratings, from 72% to 39%. 

[Mr. Tsang's support level has dropped to 39%, his lowest ever, according to a poll taken this month by the University of Hong Kong, compared with a popularity rating of 72% when he first took office in 2005.] (Wsj.com 18 June 2012)

The reasons:

Tsang blames the drop in his approval ratings to his willingness and courage to implement the accountability system in the Hong Kong Legislation Council (Legco). Council members (legislators) are law makers in Hong Kong and work like our members of parliament.     

In his final questions and answers session at Legco, The Standard had the following report on Tsang:

[Tsang admitted expanding the accountability system for principal officials came at a heavy price for him politically.

"When I look back at the changes in my popularity ratings, the watershed is the expansion of the principal officials accountability system in 2008," he said.

"I had underestimated the impacts created in politics and a spate of problems occurred by expanding the system, including how to select political talent, the appropriate terms for recruiting them and how to coordinate relations between principal officials and civil servants. I have paid a heavy cost in my political career," he said.] (The Standard, 15 June 2012)

The Impact:

Tsang’s problems are very similar to the PAP. May be his public service experience has not provided him the political judgement on accountability.  However, the PAP is always a political player and mastermind of electoral reforms.

Tsang had underestimated the impact of accountability but certainly not our PAP. Since taking office in 1959, the PAP has introduced many measures (from ISA, defamation to electoral system) to avoid accountability and transparency.  Unlike Tsang, the PAP has long anticipated the problems of selecting and recruiting talents, coordination (between MP questions and ministers’ replies), and its impact as mentioned above.

This is why until today in our parliament the oppositions are still under represented.  With 40% of votes, only 6 out of 87 MPs are from the oppositions. Just imagine if there are more opposition MPs in the parliament, the approval ratings for the PAP will certainly drop to a new low again.

The Problems: Theory and practice are different

Hong Kong and Singapore are both city state economy. We face quite similar problems, for example, housing, rich and poor gap, exposure to trade and finance etc. 

In his final address to Legco, Tsang pointed out the problem of theory and practice.  He wanted to make a bigger economy cake for Hong Kong and hoped the bigger cake can be shared by all residents there. This is same as Singapore.  Our economy is getting bigger and bigger but the PAP thinks the cake is shared fairly and evenly to all Singaporeans.  But the theory does not equal to practice.  Our low wage workers have not benefited from the bigger economy cake.
The Standard reported:
[Tsang admitted he failed to close the widening wealth gap between rich and poor that has led to widespread social grievances.

"I think that it was crucial to make the economic pie bigger for all, so that once the local economy is boosted, all people from various classes could share in the benefits," he said.

"But it turned out that theory and practice are different."] (The Standard, 15 June 2012)

Perhaps, when you are going out of the office like Tsang, you will then admit your failures and tell the hard truth.

however, in Singapore, it is still a waiting for the PAP to admit there is a difference between theory and practice.  PM Lee in his address to the Economics Society of Singapore still thinks theory and practice is the same thing.

So, when will the PAP admit their mistakes like Tsang? We all know the 'sorry' in GE2011 is not enough.

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