香港新浪網 MySinaBlog
劉廼強 | 24th Jun 2008 | SCMP | (17 Reads)

She runs; she runs not. As usual, Anson Chan would never reveal her decision until the very last minute. Befitting a former chief secretary of both the colonial and SAR governments, she needs trumpeting to announce her grand entrance to the race.

To the dissidents, this is quite agonizing. Many want to believe that if Anson Chan would come forward as a candidate for the Island constituency in the upcoming Legislative Council election, they will be able to win four out of the si seats there. This is a myth that needs to be busted.

Our dissidents follow a very strange logic. They tend to equate direct election with democracy, and go one step further. They then equate winning an election with democracy. That is why they claimed democracy prevailed after Anson Chan won the by-election last November. According to this muddled logic, winning is democracy, and losing is the death of democracy. Winning more seats in the Legislative Council, and if possible, winning the Chief E ecutive election somehow become the name of the game.

Logically, this only holds if dissidents and Anson Chan in particular is democracy reincarnate. In fact, this is what they always pretend to be. Whatever they proclaim democratic is by definition democratic; and whatever they denounce, it simply cannot be democratic. This is the logic behind their slogan “support 2012 true democracy, reject 2017 fake democracy”. To anyone outside the dissident camp, this slogan is ludicrous: how come universal suffrage, if taking place in 2012 is true democracy, and that in 2017 is fake? It does not make sense at all.

So what is the big deal if the dissidents only manage to get three seats instead of four in the Island? What is the big deal whether Anson Chan, and for that matter, any candidate gets elected? Does it make a big difference in the Legislative Council, and in the Hong Kong political scene? How can this issue be central to democratic development in the SAR? Our dissidents never gave us a satisfactory answer to any of these basic questions.

This is because even they claim themselves to be democrats, they do not understand what democracy means. Democracy in Chinese is minzhu, which literally means “people mastery”, or people as masters of their destiny. In a representative democracy, politicians are elected deputies that work on people’s behalf. It is people who are at the centre stage, not politicians, no matter how elitist they are. In the final analysis, people are the ultimate heroes, not politicians. Like it or not, we have to trust that people will have sense enough to vote for the most suitable candidates. Or else, universal suffrage is not only meaningless, it is harmful as well. So if people vote only two dissidents into office instead of three in the Island, there must be a reason for it. Whatever people decide must be right, at least at that particular moment.

If, according to conventional wisdom, the Island voters are split 60:40 in favour of the dissidents. Therefore unless they bungle on their electioneering, the probability of them getting four out of si seats in the Island in the September election is extremely high. Theoretically this will happen irrespective of who their candidates are, provided there are not too many to spread the votes too thin. Unfortunately, there are simply too many dissident candidates who insist they have the right to try their luck in the election. This will not affect the first five seats, as we are more or less certain who will get them. Should Anson Chan decide to join the race, she no doubt will win one of the first five seats. Only the si th seat is the tricky one. At the end of the day, the outcome will be decided by a few hundred votes. In 2004, it was a small margin of about 300.

It is clear that whether Anson Chan runs or not will have little impact on the outcome of this tricky last seat in the Island constituency. She can decide one way or the other, but it does not make any sense at all to put so much pressure on her to run for the post for the wrong reason.


劉廼強 | 24th Jun 2008 | 信報 | (24 Reads)

最近禽流感再起,周一嶽終於採用了我大半年前給食衛局官員的建議:不在香港宰雞。之前他們不但計劃在香港作中央屠宰,還不斷在媒體放風,說建屠宰場的地點都已經找好了。我當時告訴他們,不論你建在那裡,都一定會有人反對。試想:誰會願意讓全港H5N1病毒集中於他的隔壁?官員們這起碼的政治智慧都缺乏,幸虧現在已經毋須考慮建中央屠宰場,免了一劫。

見過官的人都有這經驗,凡是「不是這裡發明」(not invented here) 的建議,他們都會抗拒。香港許多官員傲慢與無知的程度,更是使人吃驚。那次我於當面指出這一點之後,還警告他們,香港食物安全不再出事猶自可,如再出事,我一定不會放過他們。關起門來給他們作建議,這敬酒他們不吃,今天我要兌現我的諾言,把問題攤在陽光底下,這是因為食物安全,人命關天,不能不大力促使政府緊急採取必要的行動和措施。

香港食物安全的管理,到今天都基本上以進口渠道管理為重點。所有鮮活,都只從羅湖(火車) 和文錦渡(汽車) 進口。但是今天這些被管理的渠道,包括渠道這一邊的檢驗系統,都已經千瘡百孔。深圳河以北的問題已經一大堆,以南這一邊,有環保團體揭發,載鮮活的車輛,自願進入文錦渡檢查站受檢,有如「無掩雞籠」。這等於有問題的貨車反而完全不受檢驗!這一破舊的食物安全管理體系如不解放思想,作徹底的大改革,食物安全問題不可能解決,還會繼續「一周一鑊」。

現代的食物安全管理,講求整個供應鏈管理,從源頭開始,一直管到桌上,中間每一個環節,都要求可以追溯(traceable)。現在香港鮮活的供應源頭,根據內地規定,基本上都是有登記的菜場、魚場、牧場等。但是特區政府有關部門,從來都沒有負起篩選和監督的責任,因為內地已經主動進行把關;而且這樣一來,出了問題,把手往北一指,便可推卸責任。源頭以下的中間一切物流環節,內地部份,它固然不管,來到香港,特區政府仍認為這是市場的事情,政府毋須介入。在目前這整條食物供應鏈「三不管」的狀態底下,食物安全實在難以得到保障。

保障市民食物安全,是特區政府的基本責任之一,絕對不能躲在什麼「大市場,小政府」之後,而無所作為。特區政府不是完全不明白這道理,所以在多次出事之後,在食環處底下成立了食物安全中心。但是如我在上周「茶垢」一文所分析,官員們首先不懂,亂搞,其次是傲慢而剛愎自用,結果是焦點爛額,而於事無補。「食物安全中心」只不過是食環處之下的一面新招牌,首先層次很低,證明問題沒有得到應有的重視;更重要的是,新招牌的後面,依然是舊的人事,和舊的思維。

大家不妨進入「食物安全中心」的網頁看看, 主事者清一色是醫生。我對醫生有無比的尊敬,但是宏觀的食物安全和管理,並非他們的強項。思路之所以如此,是官員們以為既然在一國之內,香港管不到內地。因此除了在港內作檢驗(食物監察及管制科) 和評估風險(風險評估及傳達科) 之外,沒有太多其他手段和措施。而這兩項,都是醫生的專長。

這一觀念是錯誤的,最基本的問題是:食物安全不等於化驗。逼醫生管理醫院,特區政府已經犯了一個大錯,而這個大錯到今天還未改正,醫管局的問題不斷重覆。現在清一色由醫生管理食物安全,將會證明是另外一個大錯誤,必會造成無可補償的人命和財產損失。

我們不妨看看,中國的食品供應美國,中國供應商首先要得到美國政府的「食物及藥物管理局」(Food and Drug Administration, FDA) 檢定和認可,並且要受其監管。國際間都可以這樣做,因為這是商業行為,不是美國介入中國內政。你要進入我的市場,便要接受我的市場管理,這是國際公認的遊戲規則,就是這麼簡單。香港的藥物也是循這邏輯管理的,效果如何,大家有目共睹。

因此,站在市民的立場,我們認為政府有責任管理食物市場整條供應鏈,而且它是有能力和有資源這樣做的,它不能再遲疑推搪。所以,特區政府需要打破政府毋須管理、或者沒有能力和權力去管理食物市場供應鏈這一迷執,要負起它絕無旁貸的責任。

作為開始,它要全面建立食物進入香港市場的許可制度,這包括:

  1. 全面檢定和認可境內外的食物供應商,並作系統的和實質性的監管;
  2. 指定食物來港渠道,並作渠道全程監控和進口後的檢驗;
  3. 系統監控批發及零售市場,杜絕非認可的食物從非指定的渠道流入市場;
  4. 在內地投放資源,並且與內地有關部門通力合作解決問題。

這四個範圍要求,可以有不同的具體方法去實現,但是不管具體做法如何,跟目前政府的做法對比一下,便知道政府是多麼敷衍塞責:它只做了第二範圍中進口後檢驗這一點點。近年食物安全出了這麼多事,還不下決心,改變思維、投入資源去徹底改善。如果說得嚴重一點,這接近草奸人命,是我們市民絕對不能容忍的。

現在禽流感出現了,市民的健康和生命即時受到威脅,政府不能不有所作為,但是官員們只曉得花高逾十億的公帑去買怕業界,還要被對方開天撒價,乘機勒索。這十億元如投放在上述這四範圍,一下子就把整個食物安全的問題解決一半。為什麼?只因業界有組織,夠大聲;而我們市民既無組織,又沒有聲音。欺善怕惡,輕重不分,莫過於此。

政府沒收業界某些權益,要買雞農的雞隻,當然要作合理的補償。但是政府任何政策都一定有人得益,也有人損失。我們的政府習慣了怕事,一遇爭議便不敢有動作。如今不能不有所作為,便用錢賄賂反對者,息事寧人,此例一開,每一項政策的受害者都要高額補償,那還得了!這簡直就是鼓勵刁民,這樣下去,刁民只會越來越多,如何得了?我們有多少錢可以供刁民勒索?

需要縱使政府甘願做冤大頭,我們市民也有權抗議,保護屬於我們的公帑合理支配。這筆巨大贖金一定要立法會通過,議員一定要把好這個關,誰敢投票支持亂花我們的錢,他就別想當選!

參加立法會選舉的,你們不是要找議題作政綱嗎?你的選民那個不是每天都要吃東西?那個不擔心食物安全問題?這裡是你們最大的票源。你們不是要找政府的錯失嗎?這裡有的是,要找醜聞,完全有潛力「一周一鑊」,足夠你們曝光至九月及以後。

再回頭看文首提及政府不再在香港宰雞這正確的一步,如果沒有上述四大範圍的系統保障,你能相信凍雞和冰鮮雞會比鮮雞更安全嗎?老爺們,請解放思想吧!


劉廼強 | 17th Jun 2008 | SCMP | (22 Reads)

The political scene is so boring recently that the issues relating to the 17 new political appointees have been dominating the media for over a month now. If my hunch is correct, it will last at least after the march on July 1. Judging from various opinion polls, it seems that only the popularity of the Chief Executive and the SAR government has suffered a bit after the long bombardment. Quite disappointingly, after so much ado, the popularity of the various political parties was not much affected. The different candidates of the upcoming Legislative Council election in early September, which is only two months away, are now scratching their heads to come up with some vote winning issues.

Now that democracy is no longer an issue, because the timetable for universal suffrage is set; and China is no issue either, because no self-respecting politician will ever admit he doe not love China. There are of course many specific issues floating around, but most of the rookies in this election simply have no idea what they are all about. Confronted by reporters, most of the time they can only offer canned answers provided to them by the now fashionable spin-doctors. When you ask a candidate why he decided to join the race, nine out of ten cannot even give you a convincing answer. And as long as there are some quotable sound-bites, the media will be satisfied. As a result, despite all the hoopla about the importance of election platforms, at the end of the day, the election is but a contest of personality, and electioneering is just a packaging and PR exercise. This is out-and-out psychological warfare battling for our vote.

In fact, the job of a law-maker is not a very rewarding one. It is not very powerful, and the pay is not that good. The only leverage they have is vetoing government policies and budgets, and many seem to specialize in just that, leading to the name “dissidents”. Because of this power over government officials, they get their perks, material or otherwise.

This job obviously cannot attract top talents in the territory. It is not a contest deciding who is the fairest of them all, but who is less ugly. But that only makes it more competitive because mediocrities are the majority of the population. It is not very demanding either, with paid assistants, free hours, long holidays, and a lot of limelight to boost the ego.

The stated rationale of the two new layers of political appointments is to provide training ground for future political leaders. Obviously, this method can only breed future secretaries, but not legislators, because very few with strong convictions will be foolish enough to switch over for an unrewarding law-maker job with one third their salaries. It does not make sense therefore to find in this lot a 55 year old retiree and a young woman who does not want to be Chinese, which is a pre-requisite for the future secretary post.

As the saying goes, “you pay peanuts, you get monkeys”. That the salary of our honorable people’s representatives is only one third of that of a public servant the undersecretary does not make sense at all. Law making and supervision of the government are serious matters that should be left in the hands of the best and the brightest, not in those of a bunch of jokers. The only way to attract present and future talents to the Legislature in this commercial city is to at least triple our councilors’ pay. The government insists this is not a full-time job, which is quite true for some of the law-makers from functional constituencies, but not for those from the geographical ones. And if competition is keen, as is gradually taking place in the geographical constituencies, in time, only full-timers will be able to stay. Moreover, if we pay them right, we can legitimately demand full-time commitment.

Unfortunately, this does not make a good campaign issue, because it may make the candidate look greedy. Come to think of it, this might be the most powerful reform in our political system. We as citizens should take up the advocacy, for our own interest sake.


劉廼強 | 17th Jun 2008 | 信報 | (41 Reads)

我以前的領導李瑞環主席在回歸前後曾經發表過「茶垢論」,提醒大家不要亂動香港既有的一些制度。「茶垢論」在香港很受落,但是這提法明顯是錯誤的。要是香港在回歸前的制度都不能動,什麼都搞「五十年不變」,到了二零四七,香港肯定成了不單與中國發展脫了節,而且也跟世界的發展脫了勾的活化石,到時想不邊緣化也不可能。

茶垢不是不能洗的,世界在變,香港也需要不斷解放思想,改革開放。但因為英國人在十三年悠長的過渡期沒有主動教會香港人,便於一九九七年下旗歸國,所以香港這本書,不單表叔們未讀通,一般港人稀裡糊塗,甚至高級公務員都不懂。在不弄清楚道理之前,還是少動它為妙。

董建華特首不懂,所以每次洗茶垢都搞到七零八落。以香港的房地產為例,他不明白為何要建公屋、居屋,每年要賣多少地來平衡供求,房地產市場與整體經濟的關係等等;一手刺破了泡沫之後,又不知如何對應,在慌忙當中,只懂得大力緊縮供應。曾蔭權特首承繼了董時代的「孫九招」,因為他同樣不懂,於是繼續死捻供應,去年賣地少於一公頃,竟然遠遠比回歸前受中英土地委員會的上限五公頃為少,還因為高地價短期帶來了過千億的財政盈餘,沾沾自喜。這樣做的惡果,很快便會浮現,勿謂余言之不先。

問責制是另外一個例子,董建華特首什麼都不懂,就謬然進行一系列政治任命,還革了政務司司長這個宰相之職。把本來應該是好招弄到搬起石頭砸自己的腳,腿疾下台。曾蔭權特首承繼了這制度,再次洗茶垢,增加兩層政治任命,雖然這本來也是正着的做法,但是因為他同樣不懂,不但「出閘失蹄」,更尾大不掉,應付完媒體和立法會的沖擊,還要大力修補公務員系統的士氣和官場倫理。弄得不好,真有可能有礙香港的繁榮和穩定。

曾蔭權承繼了董建華弱勢政府望着民調做人的壞習慣,不願直面問題,果敢決策。他跟董建華的分別,主要是對民意反應快捷,一遇到有爭議,便急忙把問題往後挪。這等於把垃圾往枱底掃一樣,看不見垃圾並不就等於沒有垃圾,枱下的垃圾還隨著時間的轉移,開始陸續發霉,到弄到滿屋都是病菌時,便難以收拾了。茶壺裡的茶葉滋生了有害的病菌,茶垢便不能不洗,到時社會上的爭議當然會少,但其他風險卻大大提高。尤其是在未經詳細和長遠戰略性的考慮,只臨急作一些權謀戰術式的回應,更迷信「大話精」(spin doctors),以為做好門面功夫,媒體收貨,就等於把問題解決。

事實上,曾蔭權必要面對的,實實在在的問題有一大堆,誰也可以隨口說出五、六個,暫不贅。這裡就只拿剛諮詢結束的醫療融資問題作第三個例子。

香港的醫療政策源自舉世稱頌的英國公共衛生服務,它只花國民收入的百份之七,便把問題解決得很好。但是我們的官員們不懂,所以曾經把公共醫療服務無限擴張,服務水準無限提高,前一段時期幾乎把私立醫療服務趕盡殺絕,弄到醫學院畢業生四成失業。結果,今天公立醫院佔了九成病床,這樣的負擔,政府當然吃不消,而且也不合理。但是出路卻不是舉世都詬病的美國醫療保險制度。大家如看過Michael Moore的得獎紀錄電影Sicko,便明白這個道理。這靠市場機制來滿足人民最基本的需要之一的方法,花了國民收入的百份之十五,結果卻一塌糊塗。但是我們一些迷信「小政府,大市場」的特首和官員們根本連市場和政府的關係到今天都未弄通,所以「積極不干預主義」被扭曲了使用,不注重「積極」,只突出「不干預」,一錯二十多年,到上下都已有共識,曾蔭權都公開承認此路不通,但卻到今天還拿不出另一套出來。在指導思想混亂之下,諮詢文件的思路自然一塌糊塗,這把錢往保險公司口袋塞的方案作為主打出場諮詢,一般市民不感興趣,專家學者,都不予好評。看來在走過場,試了水溫之後,又會再擱置起來,垃圾往枱底下一掃,乾淨!政府作公開諮詢還好,起碼大概不會胡亂洗茶垢。但是醫療改革問題,如不及早處理,到它爆發時,可能千萬人失醫,後果會十分嚴重,而事到臨頭之際,誰都難以解決。

茶垢是可以洗的,在某些情況之下,更不能不洗,只是在洗之前,我們要弄清楚茶垢是什麼一回事,保留的作用是什麼、沒有茶垢之後會有什麼後果、如何洗茶垢才能洗得乾淨而不傷茶壺、洗了之後如何不留洗潔劑的毒質等等。這需要詳細的研究和科學的、透明的、有專家和市民參與的決策。現代「廷策」式的拍腦袋提意見,主要的效果在於公關,對最終達致良好決策,和良好管治,作用不大。以上述醫療改革為例,科學決策的開始,在於弄明白英國公共衛生服務的基本邏輯,香港在醫管局成立之前那一套為什麼成功,問題出在那裡,才去設計如何改革修正它。

我國改革開放三十年,成績有目共睹,這證明了我國在管理變革(change management) 方面,的確有過人之處。內地天天都在洗茶垢,那邊的決策,早已跨越了官員們拍腦袋的初級階段。以「十一五規劃」為例,它是經過三年的時間,做了一百六十個課題研究,諮詢了超過五千人,得到過萬條建議,千錘百煉,再經過嚴格的程序,才最後通過落實。又以最近汪洋治粵為例,他的屁股還未坐暖,便大搞考察調研,謀定而後動。 特區政府之內,中央政策組在劉兆佳兄這學者治下,對調研的力度已稍有所提高,但跟內地相比,還是難以企及;再加上因為長期沒有市場,香港政策研究的人才本來就萬二分缺乏,調研的水平更參差不齊,難得到決策官員的尊重,更加劇這沒政策研究—沒政策研究人才的惡性循環,同時更進一步強化茶垢洗不得,一洗便出事的神話。

今天我們仍然活在這神話和惡性循環的詛咒之中,以我的估計,被掃在枱底的一大堆問題,很可能會於立法會選舉之後,與外部經濟情況惡化,一起來個總爆發,到時香港恐怕又再在劫難逃。無論如何,這裡可以給反對派的朋友們一個好消息,千萬不要因今年「七一」遊行人數太少而氣餒,明年人數一定大增。我這樣說不是幸災樂禍,我只是堅持樂觀的看事物。回歸十年,我深深的領略到,沒有大亂,是難有大治的。


劉廼強 | 12th Jun 2008 | SCMP | (20 Reads)

After the CE Donald Tsang Yum-kuen finally showed his face and delivered his mild apology, the fiasco relating to the political appointment of under secretaries and political assistants is expected to gradually die down. This is however wishful thinking.

Currently there is a very awkward lack of political issues on either sides of the political spectrum. Let us bear in mind there is a Legislative Council election coming up in less than 90 days from now. What would election campaigns be like without political issues? And there is the July 1 Big march. Without some juicy issues, how many people will turn up? Like hungry vultures setting sight on a corpse, they will tear away the very last piece of meat before they stop. This is what will happen to the current debacle; it will only die out when the public has become sick and tired of it, the media has ceased reporting on it, and the pundits has seen fit to drop it. This is a long way from now.

It started of innocuously on the issue of political loyalty. The conventional wisdom is: who cares about political loyalty? Hong Kong is only a place to make a living, and with luck, to make a lot of money. People from all over the world are welcome to join the rat race, and should anything happen to Hong Kong, they are free to pack up and go. The public mood 10 years after the handover has quietly changed. Hong Kong citizens do care about loyalty.

Ironically, the issue of double loyalty was initially raised by the media sympathetic to the dissidents against DAB vice chairman and candidate Gregory So, now Under Secretary for Commerce & Economic Development. That a patriotic political party such as DAB would have a Canadian citizen as its vice chairman, and its rising star is by itself a scandal; and people with dubious political loyalty like him will be groomed as Hong Kong’s future political leaders did raise a few eyebrows. It then turned out that among the 8 appointed undersecretaries, 5 had foreign passports. This is too much.

To make things worse, the government then refused to disclose the salaries of these new appointees. Under public pressure, it receded step by step, gradually releasing more information like toothpaste being squeezed. As a result, the story stayed in the news for over two weeks, and this small scandal is now a full-blown PR disaster.

Our CE, who so treasures his popularity, watched it plummeted several points. After hiding in the background, hoping that the issue would go away, he finally had to take the blow, let the appointees disclose their salaries and apologize.

The dissidents are on record, still not satisfied. They threatened to evoke the Power and Privilege Ordinance to get to the bottom of the whole political appointment process. Whether this will be vetoed is beside the point, because for the next week or so, the dissidents will gain more positive exposure at the expense of the government and their opponents, the DAB and the Liberal Party. It will drag on at least after July 1, and what is going to happen after that is anybody’s guess, depending on what is going to happen before the Big March. Under the heavy political cloud, the new appointees will be dysfunctional at least for six months.

Very few people pay attention to the feelings of existing corps of civil servants. Talk about the price of loyalty and dedication, Raymond Tam who has changed over from his 20 odd years of service in the government, did actually get less pay than Gregory So. Can anybody account for that? Needless to say, the civil servants, especially the elite Administrative Officers are naturally unhappy and demoralized. It is this unhappy lot that has to work side by side with the new appointees, and the feelings and cooperation of our civil servants are vital to the success of the political appointment system, and for that matter, the stability and prosperity of this city.

If their boss, Donald Tsang does not realize this point, it is our duty as private citizens to remind him to transparently set up a system of political appointment acceptable to the public as well as our dedicated civil servants. Time is of the essence.


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