John Lee’s results-oriented approach offers road map to good governance

The newly completed chief executive election has set the milestone for Hong Kong to move away from its roller-coaster ride over recent years, featuring the social unrest in 2019 and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

Fortunately, the enactment of the National Security Law for Hong Kong in June 2020 and the revamp of the city’s electoral system in 2021 have now kept subversive activities at bay. With the omicron threat gradually subsiding, Hong Kong residents eagerly expect the new Hong Kong Special Administrative Region administration to shake the city off all its socioeconomic plights and pull it back onto a promising development path.

All eyes are now on the chief executive-elect, John Lee Ka-chiu, who has pledged to lead Hong Kong to a better future with his three policy visions: to resolve various deep-seated issues with a results-oriented approach; to increase the overall competitiveness of the city; and to consolidate the foundation for Hong Kong’s further socioeconomic development. The second and third visions align with the goal of maintaining Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability in the long run, as stipulated in the Basic Law. It is his first vision that attracts the most public attention because of its novelty. One way to interpret it is to stand from the past, present and future to analyze its significance for the future of Hong Kong.

To view from the perspective of the past means we need to look back at the many socioeconomic problems that have accumulated over the years. The homogeneity of Hong Kong’s economic structure debilitates the city’s potential to fully grasp the opportunities brought about by national development, which provides the economic impetus that the city lacks. On the other hand, worsening housing affordability and the rise in income disparity have exacerbated social disharmony. Even though these issues have been constantly addressed, with specific solutions and target policies proposed in the past, hindering factors like political disputes always managed to trump the progression of policymaking and execution, and the efforts from all sides to improve livelihoods largely ended up in vain. Lee will be the first HKSAR leader who has ever come up with the results-oriented governance philosophy, which is a testimony to his determination to untie the socioeconomic knots and ensure a better life for the people of Hong Kong. It bodes well for streamlining the policymaking process and quickly bringing the associated benefits to fruition.

Viewed from the present setting, the promulgation of the National Security Law for Hong Kong and the revamp of the city’s electoral system have thankfully banished the political zealots who were hellbent on disrupting policymaking and execution. With the removal of the major stumbling blocks and the implementation of the principle of “patriots administering Hong Kong”, the HKSAR government is now well-positioned to administer the desirable policies that form the building blocks of good governance. A results-oriented approach is to take pragmatism to the core, and it reflects the HKSAR government’s intention to make good use of the favorable conditions conferred by the recent political reforms to enhance and exert its governance capabilities. This sends out a positive message that Hong Kong is taking steps to move forward.

The results-oriented governance philosophy conveyed by Lee’s manifesto is undeniably significant to the future of Hong Kong. Lee’s declaration of a results-oriented governance philosophy represents a self-empowerment that weighs more than a conceptual vision since “results” contain more practical elements that align with the expectations of the general public. It also augurs that bold and vigorous actions will be taken by the next administration to deliver the desired outcomes.

As far as public policy is concerned, decision-makers have to prioritize items in order to better allocate limited resources to address the most urgent issues. With respect to the current situation in Hong Kong, post-pandemic restoration shall remain the foremost undertaking of the next administration. There are three aspects to which it should attach importance. The first one is to reform the housing and land system so that every family is entitled to affordable housing; the second one is to promote diversification of the city’s industries with a new development paradigm of a financial engine in the south and an innovation technology engine in the north; and the third one is to strengthen economic and trade ties with both the Chinese mainland and overseas markets to reinvigorate Hong Kong’s international standing and business activities. Only by achieving these goals can the people of Hong Kong enjoy the fruits of good governance, which in turn boosts public confidence in the new administration as well as Hong Kong’s future.

The author is senior research officer of the One Country Two Systems Research Institute.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.