07 December 2006

There's public consultation and there's public consultation

The Hong Kong government has just abandoned its proposal for 5% GST, after listening to citizens via public consultations. How does Singapore's public consultation process compare? Full essay.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Singapore Govt consults only the Singapore Govt.
Democracy in Singapore?
What is that?

Anonymous said...

'Me: What two people do in their bedrooms, what happens between two mutually consenting adults, is really no one else’s business.

Ellen Lee: That’s where you are wrong'-

I had to put this in. Does anyone know how ridiculous Ms Lee sounds?
If this is the repartee from Singapore's PAP 'white palace', I feel YB's pain....n mine.

Anonymous said...

It will never happen in Singapore.

Anonymous said...

According to YB's article, Indranee [Rajah] was supposed to have said: "... They might be afraid that their children will turn gay, ..."

Oh my, my! What a statement! It is so revealing of the vacuous mind of whoever said that. Did that person really imagine that a human can "turn gay"? A human being is either straight or gay, it's innate. We've known it for the last few decades.

Suppose the child is innately gay, but did not behave gay, and then suddenly decides to be open about his/her gayness, it's a good thing because all the stress of hiding a secret will be gone. Does the govt feel that our laws should pander to the ignorant?

Robert L

hugewhaleshark said...

Like you say, Alex, there's consultation and there's consultation. My observation of HK public policy is that the government is powerless to put through even the construction of a cultural center, or a sorely-needed road, without being jammed by public opinion.

I happen to believe that the sales tax in HK is much-needed. And in that sense, HK has too much regard for public opinion for its own good. It is too far down the other end of the spectrum, so to speak.

Anonymous said...

I am gay n I am DEEPLY offended by Indranee Rajah's statement. Mr Rajah shows his ignorance n stupidity on the subject. Is this the kind of people we have running the country?

Yawning Bread Sampler said...

Um... it's actually Ms Indranee Rajah (the bloody English language demands that you know a person's sex above all else!).

And she's a partner at the law firm Drew and Napier.

kwayteowman said...

Alex,

The KTM agrees with hugewhaleshark. The Hong Kong Government is not stupid. They know for a fact that the GST is going to be unpopular and yet they still tried to push for it. Therefore, there has to be some sense in the madness.

While you seem to view the apparent retreat for the Hong Kong Government as a sign of democracy, the KTM sees it as politics in action. Donald Tsang is going for a second term within the next year. He's not going to risk another 500,000-person riot in the streets before the elections.

Perhaps we are being premature in our judgement. Let's see what Donald Tsang does after he gets re-elected before we speak. The KTM predicts the Hong Kong Government will try to push for the GST again. Maybe 5% is too much to swallow, so perhaps the next time, they will learn from Singapore and try 3% for a first bite. :-)

Yawning Bread Sampler said...

As I said in the article, I don't have a stand on whether the GST is right or wrong for HK. But for argument's sake, let's assume it is right and needed. If so, I would wonder whether the belief that it is right is considered enough to justify dispensing with an open public consultation?

Are we then saying that where a govt thinks the people are too ignorant to agree with it (and therefore there's no hope of convincing people in open debate), then it is justified to dispense with public consultation?

I.e. the ends justify the means - that kind of thing.

But surely, whenever a govt makes proposals, it must think that those are the right proposals. In that case, when will the govt ever feel the need to hold public consultations?

I think we have a lot to learn from HK for the openness of its process. It may deliver the "wrong" result (whatever wrong may be in one's point of view), but I think we need to be careful not to take the view that the ends justify the means.

sad man said...

That is why we have a parliament in the first place to discuss issues. Hitler was right. We all knew what happened after that. People have discussed about tiered GST, alternative source of revenue, cutting on other aspect of budget, eg defense - but I have this feeling maybe only a handful of people 'believe'in the need for increased GST, shove it through parliament and everybody else nods in agreement - Groupthink. And that is scary.

sad man said...

Funny, come to think of it. Damn if you do, damn if you don't. After a long consultation with the public on the IR, which result in a split along the centre, the govt decided to set up the IR anyway, promising jobs and increased revenue (so why GST increase now??)Everybody hated the damn wayang. Now the cabinet has decided to bite the bullet and stop the wayang, and Hong kong decided to step back, leaving the Singapore Govt at the front of the shooting line. Funny lah.

kwayteowman said...

Alex,

The KTM isn't disagreeing with you. Just highlighting that it may be premature to draw any conclusions about the GST from the Hong Kong experience. :-P