RTHK "Letter to Hong Kong"
by Martin Lee
Broadcasted on 21 January 2001 on Radio 3, Radio Television Hong Kong
People have been asking this question for the whole of the last week: Why wouldn't Anson Chan stay on for the rest of her term? Well, I'm going to pose a totally different question for you: How could Anson Chan have stayed on for so long?
I must declare that I have absolutely no insider information on this and therefore, I'm going to speculate, just as you would have been speculating all along. One thing is sure, no one really believes that Anson resigned for the actual reasons that she had given. I think that those reasons were calculated not to be believed. And I do not believe there will ever be an official record of the true reasons, all the true reasons, why she actually resigned.
Of course, many people will now say, with hindsight, that her resignation was not surprising at all. After all, they say her values are not Mr. Tung's values. [Of one country two systems], Anson seems to think that her most important role is to preserve all the values that we the people of Hong Kong hold so dear and so she would be concentrating on the two systems part. Mr. Tung, on the contrary, seems to have devoted all of his attention to the one country part of this equation. As to this, most people in Hong Kong would be on Anson's side because they are most immediately affected if we lose our high degree of autonomy. But Beijing seems to be much more on Mr. Tung's side which resulted in Anson being told by Mr. Qian Qichen to give better support to Mr. Tung.
So what were the main reasons for Anson's resignation? I believe one of the most important ones concerned Mr. Andrew Lo, Mr. Tung Chee-hwa's trusted servant. You will all remember the sad saga concerning the University of Hong Kong when Mr. Andrew Lo intervened in the academic freedom of the University, in particular Robert Chung. An independent panel consisting of three well-respected members of the community found, in no uncertain terms, that Mr. Andrew Lo was not a reliable or convincing witness. Bearing in mind that Mr. Andrew Lo was and still is as civil servant, and therefore very much under the control of the Chief Secretary, and bearing in mind too, that he certainly on the evidence had not served his master, that is, the Chief Executive well, there would be every good reason for Anson to require him to resign. And she would have every good reason to expect Mr. C. H. Tung to support her. Mr. Tung did exactly the opposite in coming out in public to defend Mr. Andrew Lo and saying to the whole world that he would keep him.
It was obvious to all that Mr. Tung did not seem to realize the difference between a public servant and a private servant. Surely the proper thing for Mr. Tung to have done was to persuade Mr. Lo to resign as a government servant and then to re-engage him in one of his family's private businesses. And if necessary, to continue to use his services to liaise with different groups of the community.
Mr. Tung likes to run Hong Kong just as the emperor used to run China. In the days of the Chinese empire, the chief eunuch, of course, was a very important person. His chief minister too, was a very important person but then the chief eunuch was always close to the emperor. So it would be inconceivable for the emperor to sack the chief eunuch only on the strong advice of his chief minister.
What should Anson's successor do then is the next important question. My suggestion to him or to her is this -- frame the right question for yourself whenever you face a politically sensitive issue. Now if you ask yourself this question: ¡§what will Beijing think if I were to do this?¡¨ Then you will never do it even though you know in your heart it is the correct thing to do. But if you frame for yourself a totally different question: ¡§Why shouldn't I do it because there is nothing against it in the Basic Law and it is eminently good for Hong Kong?¡¨ Then you will do the right thing.
Some people think that Anson is letting down the people of Hong Kong, and in particular her successor in resigning like this. But on the contrary I think she has done a good thing for her successor and for Hong Kong because from now on the eyes of the world will be on her successor to see whether he or she can do the sort of things that Anson has been doing, and tries to continue to do, but without much help from Mr. Tung. And since the eyes of the world will also be on Mr. Tung, I think Anson's successor stands a very good chance to do the sort of things she would have liked to do herself.