Public Governance in Asia and the Limits of Electoral Democracy

Public Governance in Asia and the Limits of Electoral Democracy

Edited by Brian Bridges and Lok Sang Ho

This book documents the search for a workable model of democracy in Asia. It begins with two conceptual chapters that explore the role of electoral democracy as a governance mechanism in the light of other governance mechanisms, then reviews the various forms of Asian democracy, including those that many may consider to be in name rather than in substance, that have been practiced to date, and indicates where these models may have failed or succeeded. Underpinned by extensive case studies, valuable insights into governance and democracy in Asia – arguably one of the most fascinating and dynamic regions in the world – are provided.

Chapter 8: Democratization in Hong Kong

Joseph Y.S. Cheng

Subjects: asian studies, asian politics and policy, politics and public policy, asian politics, public policy, regulation and governance

Extract

Joseph Y.S. Cheng 1. INTRODUCTION In 2009, the basic political situation in this Special Administration Region (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) remains unchanged in many ways. The chief executive, who enjoys substantial administrative powers in the government structure, must be someone trusted by Beijing and accepted by the business community. Senior civil servants continue to play a key role in the administration. It is interesting to observe that Donald Tsang, the chief executive, was a senior civil servant; his most trusted top officials, as expected, share his background. It appears that a prominent critic and a one-time possible successor, namely, Anson Chan, as well as John Tsang, is also a former civil servant. The phenomenon raises the question of where one can expect Hong Kong’s political talents to come from. Apparently most Hong Kong people still adopt a utilitarian attitude towards democracy. They see democracy as a means to realize practical, concrete objectives. Few Hong Kong people really practise democracy as a way of life. Since Hong Kong people treat democracy as a means to an end, they are prudent in the calculation of the costs of political participation. While they perceive democracy as an important means to guarantee their freedom, their lifestyles and their living standards, which they treasure, they also consider that one’s own efforts are probably more significant and more reliable to improve one’s life (Cheng 1999). Under such circumstances, the vast majority of Hong Kong people had, to some extent, accepted the substitution...

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