Reflections on recent events, plus the occasional fact
free rant unfiltered by rational argument.
Nobody does incompetence like the Hong Kong Government. The ineptitude came into focus this week with the appointment of the new Secretary for Justice.
Let's remind ourselves of some recent history. In past years, officials and prospective officials got caught with illegal structures on their homes. Henry Tang, wannabe Chief Executive, proved the most significant scalp. Although, the list is lengthy. Thus, you’d have thought our officials could organise some due diligence before appointing people. It appears not.
The rumours started last year that Rimsky Yuen, Secretary for Justice, wanted out. During his tenure, the poor chap faced many difficult tasks. He prosecuted the Occupy people and then he pursued police officers. Between a rock and a hard place, he was unable to please anyone. But, hey, that’s the job, and that’s why you get the big bucks.
By all accounts, the quest to find a replacement was not easy. With a charged political atmosphere, quality legal minds prefer to make money elsewhere. It's easier than facing the wrath of an agitated public. Anyway, the intrusive scrutiny of the role calls for brave soul. After rejections by several potential candidates, the government settled on Teresa Cheng.
You’d think after the Henry Tang debacle that sound checks existed to screen prospective officials. These investigations would look for any potential embarrassing acts or omissions. Integrity checks as such are pretty standard in most modern societies. Further, given that land use and building details are available to anyone, it's straightforward. Scanning the records is quick. Evidently, this did not take place.
Are we expected to believe that our officials are competent when this simple step appears beyond them? In the end, the only conclusion is that this is a problem of the governments making. No doubt they will be scrambling to repair the damage this week. We can expect announcements about committees to review procedures. They will utter the usual rote response from civil servants to their mistakes.
Meanwhile, the spin that accompanied Ms Cheng’s appointment is now looking vapid. You can’t argue that someone is savvy, astute and well-suited for a legal position when they don’t recognise these issues. Likewise, you can’t have your most senior justice official engaged in illegal acts. Immediately, the integrity of your legal system goes out the window.
This is a delicate time, with many significant legal issues to be addressed. Not least is the cross-border high-speed rail check point arrangements. Asking whether Ms Cheng should remain in the post is difficult to answer. If she’s retained the government has a millstone around its neck. To remove her, affirms your incompetence. Auribus teneo lupum.
Walter De Havilland is one of the last of the colonial coppers. He served 35 years in the Hong Kong Police.