James Tien : Bloodied, Unbowed

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On Wednesday November 26th, the Liberal Party Youth Committee held a “Social Wednesday” with James Tien as the guest speaker. The MC, Mark Fu, Vice Chairperson External of the Liberal Party Youth Committee opened the night asking, “What do you think CY has done well?”

James Tien responded that the whole structure of the political system makes it very hard for CY to carry out policies. He said, “In the past 20 years or so, the Central Government has done such a good job because all policies are well-thought out before execution so that no matter who is the General Secretary and how long he or she is in office, they can definitely accomplish something. There’s continuity within the position of General Secretary from Jiang Zemin to Hu Jin Tao. But not in Hong Kong. Why is that? No matter who is the Chief Executive, nothing significant gets done.”

CE: Team first, then election
Tien suggests that because the Chief Executive is elected individually and must find the 3 main secretaries and 12 Bureau Secretaries after the election, it is challenging to rally strong support. By the time he is elected, finds people to fill these posts, analyze policies, and chooses policies, the term is practically over. As a result, legislating is quite challenging. He adds that under this situation, it is better to have more friends and fewer enemies to get things done. Rather than ignore people you do not get along with, Tien advises the CE to gather pan-dems for casual dinners to discuss issues. Given the pan-dem’s current act of non-cooperation, the government is in a very difficult situation of governance. His suggestion is that future Chief Executives should tell people who its supporters are before being elected in order to build teamwork from the start. In his view, the good thing about the current situation is that “just because the government is not doing anything does not mean that the economy is performing poorly”.

When asked about the what to do post Occupy, Tien admits that he does not quite know what is happening in Mong Kok with so many different people of various backgrounds. He notes that the more critical issue is to “investigate why so many people, not only students, are occupying Mong Kok for reasons other than the NPCSC decision and universal suffrage”. He said it will be a long time before the government will be able to deal with issues like housing policy, and opportunity for young people.

He hopes that occupying the streets will end soon but the occupying of LegCo has only begun. He said, “The pan-dems’ non-cooperation movement is not very logical since LegCo members are elected to monitor the government, not oppose everything regardless of whether it’s right or wrong”.

He stated, “No matter what party you’re from, this is being irresponsible to citizens. The Chief Executive needs to find a way for pan-dems and pro-establishment to cooperate and govern Hong Kong”.

On elections
When asked about the NPCSC decision, he commented that the type of free elections that some Hong Kong people are demanding only exists in independent countries.

“So China has no way of accepting this and it is quite reasonable that China wants to filter through candidates. But I don’t think China would nominate poor candidates. If Hong Kongers don’t like the candidates, they can use blank votes and it’d be embarrassing if there are 2 million blank votes. I’m sure the kind of people the Central Government will give us to elect won’t be too bad. It’s in their interest to choose candidates they hope Hong Kongers would like”.

In conclusion, the future of Hong Kong is up to the generation represented by the Young Liberals (mid-twenties to early forty-somethings) and Tien hopes that “they do not take this responsibility of governance lightly and more people will participate in community events”.

When asked to comment on the future direction of the Liberal Party, James Tien concludes that they should not be yellow ribbons or blue ribbons but should adopt a stance that is half blue half yellow. Often said to be pro-business, the Liberal Party’s position is really one that is “concerned for the economy’s development and people’s livelihood”.

“In Hong Kong, compared with other Asian countries, we’re lucky we do not have serious religious or racial conflicts. The main problem is between the rich and the poor, so why can’t we create a harmonious society?”