Is Hong Kong International, Transparent and Efficient? – Editor’s Note

Editor’s Note — By on December 14, 2015 12:47 PM
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International, transparent and efficient – these are the words the government department for
attracting and keeping foreign investment in the city, InvestHK, uses to describe why “Hong Kong
is the ideal place to do business in Asia”. They are also characteristics Hongkongers have long been
proud to present to visitors to our city.

We might point to the city’s status as an international financial centre with one of the world’s
largest stock markets, to a relatively transparent system of governance and an efficient world-class
public transport system.

InvestHK proclaims the city is “one of the world’s most open and corruption-free economies” and
provides a public transportation service that is “reliable, efficient and very reasonably priced”.
But to what extent are these proclamations valid and to what extent are they under threat? In our
December issue, we set out to look at how these values are faring by focusing on aspects of how
Hong Kong is doing in terms of being international, transparent and efficient.

The influx of Mainland money and investment in Hong Kong since the handover in 1997 has led to
some soul-searching about whether Hong Kong is still an international city and an international
financial centre.

We are often told that a free and stable economy, the free flow of information and the rule of law
are the bedrock of Hong Kong as an international financial centre. But some are worried about the
impact Mainland money and business practices may have on these pillars. Has our stock market
and economy become more “Mainlandised”? Varsity asks economists, scholars and InvestHK to
comment.

In terms of transparency, there is growing concern in recent years about the way the government
disseminates information and consults the public about its policies. For instance, the government’s
plan to redevelop Tsim Sha Tsui’s waterfront, including the Avenue of Stars, provoked furious
debate over what was seen as the government’s lack of transparency and procedural justice.

Journalists and citizens have noticed the government has become more selective in releasing
information. Top officials have taken to social media like Facebook and blogs to float ideas and
announce information instead of holding press conferences open to all media.

Meanwhile barely a week goes by without Hongkongers bemoaning delays and breakdowns on a
public transport system whose efficiency they always prized.

In October, a barge collided into the Kap Shui Mun bridge along the Lantau Link and paralysed the
only path linking the airport and the rest of the city. The way information was given out and the
lack of alternative routes raised concerns about the city’s transport system.

Millions of people rely on the MTR or franchised buses every day, but Varsity finds buses are
hampered by increasingly severe congestion. As for the MTR, the increasing passenger load is
causing problems.

As Hongkongers, we care about the changes and challenges our city faces, especially in a climate
of social and political uncertainty.

Also in our December issue, we look at Hong Kong’s disappearing livestock industry. Despite a
growing foodie fashion to eat locally sourced produce, we import almost all our meat from the
Mainland. In the People section, we talk to writer-critic Tang Siu-wa on her penchant for heated
online debates and why she is trying to put those word battles behind her. Enjoy our issue!

thomas s

Thomas Chan

Editor-in-chief

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