This column by Indian academic Ajay Shah originally published in Financial Express offers some interesting analysis on the debt debacle in Dubai. You may also wish to read this extensive April 2009 report by Johann Hari, a commentator for The Independent newspaper in the UK.
A good airport, port, glass office towers, and computerized trading floors do not an international financial center make. The hardware may have been in place but lacking has been the critical software, particularly the rule of law, transparency, accountability and the free flow of information. Dubai’s party lasted two decades. The question is whether its ambitions to be a global financial hub can still be realized. There are lessons for Hong Kong in this tale of “puffery” so suddenly deflated.
The BBC interview show HARDtalk recently came to Hong Kong. The Chairman of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited, Ronald Arculli, who is a member of the Executive Council, was a guest. You can view a clip from that program here. For a limited time, you can listen to the entire interview here.
The Hong Kong SAR Government must be concerned about the outside world’s perception of its political system and development. Monica Chen, the Director of the Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office in New York, just sent out this e-mail letter to contacts in the US:
On November 18, the Hong Kong SAR Government started a three-month public consultation on the method of selecting the Chief Executive and for forming the Legislative Council (LegCo) in 2012.
This is an important exercise as we listen to the aspirations of Hong Kong people and seek common grounds to advance democratic development in Hong Kong.
As pointed out by Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang, the administration is “determined in advancing Hong Kong’s democratic development in 2012, paving the way for universal suffrage elections for the Chief Executive in 2017 and the entire Legislature in 2020. We are doing so with the greatest sincerity. Our job is to broaden the scope of political participation and increase substantially the democratic elements in the 2012 elections in accordance with the Basic law and the decision of the Standing Committee of the National Peoples’ Congress in December 2007.”
The consultation document sets out a number of key issues for consideration:
To enlarge the scope of political participation through an expansion of the Election Committee for electing the Chief Executive and by increasing the number of seats in the LegCo;
To increase the democratic elements within our political system by electing all District Council (DC) seats in the election Committee and LegCo from among elected DC members; and
To maintain the current nomination threshold for the Chief Executive Election and LegCo and not expand the traditional Functional Constituencies in the LegCo.
The British Consulate-General (BCG) issued a statement of the United Kingdom’s reaction to the public consultation, following the release of the document. (http://ukinhongkong.fco.gov.uk/en/) It says, “The timetable for universal suffrage in 2017 and 2020 is now in place. The 2012 elections could then be significantly more democratic than those held in 2007 and 2008, preparing the way for full universal suffrage as envisaged in 2017 and 2020.”
Noting that Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity are underpinned by its rights and freedoms, the BCG believed “that these can best be guaranteed by Hong Kong moving to a system of universal suffrage in 2017/2020, as envisaged by the NPCSC decision of 2007.”
It is the common aspiration of the HKSAR Government and the community to further democratize Hong Kong’s electoral system. We sincerely hope that various sectors of the community will give us their views actively. With the collective wisdom and determination of the people of Hong Kong, we can bring real democratic progress to the electoral methods for 2012.
Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office, New York
Our guest next week – our final class – will be Professor Amy B.M. Tsui, a Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hong Kong. We will discuss education reform in Hong Kong and the SAR’s efforts to promote innovation and creativity to ensure that it remains competitive in the global economy. In advance of the class, you may wish to read this briefing paper on curriculum reform in Hong Kong.