Purpose: The purpose of this book launch speech is to introduce the book I author, Can Hong Kong exceptionalism last? Dilemmas of governance and public administration over five decades 1970s-2020 (2021). The book critically reviews the governance and public administration from 1970s to 2020, identifying strengths and capabilities as well as constraints and dilemmas.
Design/methodology/approach: The book is based on my decades of academic observations and personal political experience by interpreting and re-interpreting the Hong Kong journey, with reflections on past assumptions and raising new questions.
Findings: This book identifies five exceptional aspects: (a) Under British rule Hong Kong was governed as an atypical colony; (b) It was one of the Four Little Dragons as part of the East Asian Miracle; (c) In the 1990s, it was one of the regional pioneers in public sector reform; (d) The unique constitutional status of post-1997 Hong Kong as a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China; (e) After reunification, the SAR government, though only semi-democratic, is checked by balancing and monitoring mechanisms no less vigorous than some developed democracies. It also examines various governance problems faced in the post-1997 period.
Originality/value: Hong Kong is again in times of uncertainty and volatility. The city has entered a ‘second transition’ after 2020, and it is undergoing a bigger test than in 1997. After reviewing the past, I opine in the book that Hong Kong has to identify its niche areas, not only in economics. It needs a paradigm shift in how it relates to the Mainland within ‘One Country’ and how it relates to the world as a global metropolis. Copyright © 2022 Anthony B.L Cheung.