Calming words from Professor Yuen, disappointing ones from Mr Chow

It seems after all that some lessons are being learned from the SARS experience. Professor Yuen Kwok-yung’s expert panel has found that there is no evidence that the current flu outbreak is any more virulent than normal, and seem to be quite open about their findings.

On the other hand the Health Secretary, York Chow Yat-ngok, (a politician primarily, not a scientist) continues to demonstrate that the concept of leadership is completely alien to him. Quoted in The Standard today he talks of the panicky schools closure: “It is not something based entirely on public health data at the moment. But I think the public would appreciate that what are are doing might be a little drastic – but it is reassuring to the community. {…} We had to make certain assumptions that if there are now two deaths related to influenza … then we need to do something.”

Now I cannot claim to speak for “the community” but personally I do not find it reassuring to have “leaders” whose actions are driven more by some perceived public need to “Do something! Anything!” than by sound analysis and decision-making.

It is always a problem to find high calibre people to run a small country (which is essentially what Hong Kong is) but this is particularly compounded here by the cartels and cronyism which completely distort any sort of meritocratic system which would allow such talent as there is to reach the top. The result of course is that smart “insiders” stay inside and make obscene amounts of money in their personal bit of a cartel, and most smart, motivated outsiders leave. The few smart outsiders who do, for whatever reason, decide to stay (people like Christine Loh, for example) face a very frustrating time essentially bashing their heads against the brick wall erected by the “establishment”.

Would a proper democratic system based on universal suffrage and no pre-approval from Beijing allow people of a higher calibre to rise to the top? Who knows, but the result is hardly likely to be worse than the people we have now in some key positions, as Mr Chow is amply demonstrating.

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5 Responses to Calming words from Professor Yuen, disappointing ones from Mr Chow

  1. Tinybear says:

    I was told that the school closure decision came from the CE himself and just hours after Dr. York Chow said that school closure wasn’t necessary at that stage.

    Still, from a practical point of view, what’s the harm of breaking a week earlier for Easter?

  2. smog says:

    If that’s the case then Dr Chow should stand up for what he believes and let Mr Tsang do his own grandstanding.

  3. Tinybear says:

    Maybe he did. But the CE’s decision overrides his.

  4. smog says:

    So the CE should have done the announcing. Why is the Health Secretary announcing a school closure anyway? It should be the Education Secretary or the CE.

    If you’re going to exert authority then you should take responsibility as well.

  5. gweipo says:

    I’d rather have bumbling well intentioned cya politicians than George Bush …

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