Since the handover of Hong Kong from being a British colony back to a special administrative region of China in 1997, it has suffered from a series of political turmoil in which the executive found great difficulties in exerting public support on its rule while failing to build a cooperative relationship with the legislature. The existing political system is criticised greatly by the society for its outdated design that fails to cope with the rising demand from the public and to achieve any constructive progress in political development in Hong Kong. In the paper, explanations about the incompetence of the chief executives (CE) in Hong Kong will be focused under the umbrella of lacking legitimacy and institutional weakness that pose hurdles for the CE in his governance as well as providing suggestions to improve their performance.
The executive is defined as the central policy-making mechanism (Li, 2012). In Hong Kong, the structure of the executive is clearly stated in the Basic Law (1990) that it is headed by the CE which follows the governing ideology of executive-led system. The CE is supported by a group of principle officials who are responsible for formulating policies and supervising those bureaus and departments they are in charge of while a large batch of civil servants bears the duties of enforcing and implementing the policies approved by their seniors.
To start with, the introduction of accountability system of the principal officials (ASPO) in 2002 by Tung Chee-hwa hampers a smooth working relationship between principal officials and civil service that eventually leads to blunders on the executive of Hong Kong. Before that, principal officials (PO) were groomed and chosen from civil service that ensured efficiency and consistency within the executive. Chief Secretary played a crucial role for screening agenda putting forward to the governor or CE (Li, 2012). However, since Tung were outsider of the civil service and had policy and personal clashes with Anson Chan, the Chief Secretary at that time, he introduced the ASPO to appoint his own men into the top of executive structure in the name of increasing accountability of the PO and recruiting talents from the society. This gesture does not bring higher accountability and legitimacy of those officials as claimed, but increases clashes between the CE, including POs, and the civil service. As Poon Kit (2002) put forward, this system has led to rivalries between the traditional bureaucrats and the new political elites. The detachment of POs from civil service actually sowed the seeds of distrust and incompetency within the government. For civil servants, in the past, they were able to become as POs through internal promotion while under the implementation of ASPO, their chance of promotion now lies with the CE (Tong, 2005). Also, political power of civil service, like policy-making, has now deprived and replaced by a group of political appointees. Besides, Li...