Ten years of political appointments in Hong Kong: The challenges and prospect of developing a political appointment system under a semi-democratic regime, 2002-12

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Abstract

Political appointment system is common in many Western democratic regimes. Nevertheless, when this notion of political appointment was introduced to Hong Kong in 2002, as the Principal Officials Accountability System (POAS), it failed to gain the confidence of the people of Hong Kong. In the ten years since its implementation, popular support for the POAS has remained on the low side and its operation has continued to generate various problems and challenges to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government. This chapter examines the functioning of the political appointment system under the Tung Chee-hwa and Donald Tsang administration (2002-12) by drawing upon the theoretical notion of semi-democracy. The central argument here is that the various problems and controversies surrounding the functioning of the political appointment system in Hong Kong are closely connected to the major features of its semi-democratic regime. The deficit of democratic elections, the legitimacy crisis facing the HKSAR Chief Executive (CE), the marginalization of party politics and the continued dominance of senior civil servants in policy-making under Hong Kong’s semi-democratic regime has cause the political appointment system to fall its original objectives and even created a number of the problems and controversies. As a consequence, the political appointment system has usually been criticized for failing to enhance the political accountability of the HKSAARA government, to select political tea, and to safeguard the political neutrality of the civil service. All these problems and controversies have eventually undermined public confidence in the political appointment system, making it a political burden more than a political assent to the HKSAR government. This chapter is divided into three major sections. The first section briefly reviews the notion of political appointment system within political science literature and its implementation in Western democratic contexts. The second section traces the background to the introduction of the political appointment system by the Tung Chee-hwa administration in 2002 and its further development by the Donald Tsang administration in 2008. The third section discusses the major criticisms of the political appointment system since its implementation and examines the relationship between these political controversies and the semi-democratic regime in post-1997 Hong Kong. Copyright © 2014 SAGE.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNew trends of political participation in Hong Kong
EditorsJoseph Y.S. CHENG
Place of PublicationHong Kong
PublisherCity University of Hong Kong Press
Pages67-103
ISBN (Print)9789629372330, 9629372339
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Citation

Fong, B. C. H. (2014). Ten years of political appointments in Hong Kong: The challenges and prospect of developing a political appointment system under a semi-democratic regime, 2002-12. In J. Y. S. Cheng (Ed.), New trends of political participation in Hong Kong (pp. 67-103). Hong Kong: City University of Hong Kong Press.

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