Governance means management and good governance means good management. In this insightful guide to Hong Kong, Alex J. Vidal directs the readers through the management of a government introducing important ideas so that corruption cannot present itself.
For the study of the management of a recently-formed government, the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region – HKSAR – (the City), a relatively new formation of self-government, is an obvious and ideal candidate.
The character of a nation defines the style of management of government of the people. Quality character would produce a squeaky clean, responsive and responsible government, whereas a nation with serious character f laws could only expect to be governed by a defective and corrupt system of government. Parents must be made to understand and respect their parental duty to properly, intellectually and morally nurture their children. Holding the opinion that parenting has a profound impact on the management of government and reinforced by the wisdom that ‘the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world’, this book gives the subjects of parenthood and parenting their in-depth study.
From time immemorial, corruption has been the root of all woes and ills of humankind. A new self-government is particularly prone to be on the slippery slope towards a corrupt system. To forestall corruption and to ensure good management, this book recommends innovative and groundbreaking reforms of the City’s management of its government (the government).
This book is firmly convinced that the governance of the government is, in practice, its management. Good governance must faithfully observe the principles of management. To forestall corruption within the government and to ensure efficient and effective management, officials must be management experts and be individuals of discernible personal and professional integrity. It strongly recommends that tough legal and administrative measures be put in place to safeguard against conflicts of interest and professional misconduct of officials and that these tough measures be more stringently applied to officials empowered to make decisions in the government. (In Chapter 6, a radical reform of the government’s decision-making mechanisms is recommended and the measures explained.)
To bring into being a caring and compassionate society, it establishes exacting and demanding criteria for public offices held by the chief executives, the lawmakers, public officers, and senior civil servants.
It strongly recommends that the City be managed as a profitable business concern.
It is firmly convinced that English is indispensable for the acquisition of knowledge of all fields and, accordingly, it strongly recommends that, as the City is an international city and as it adopts the British legal system, its citizens, especially those in public service, must have a high level of proficiency in English.
Since the handover of the City to China in 1997, there has been a noticeable deterioration in the performance and management of the government and a deterioration in social harmony and order. This book is the product of my effort to determine the causes of a continuous economic and technological decline and a continuous escalation of social disharmony and disorder in the City and my attempts to arrest the decline and the escalation. The structurally defective management of the government, the character flaws of the people and the poor parenting skills of the parents have been my focus of concern.
Its distinguishing features include:
• designing innovative parenting skills and pioneers the ‘guidance parenting’ which covers the cultivation of high moral sense and decency, the physical and mental development and financial management and the conquest of character flaws of children;
• candidly and unreservedly bringing the character flaws of the City into sharp focus, with recommendations to slough off these flaws;
• suggesting measures to stifle property speculation, as the City’s property bubble skyrockets at an alarming rate.
One chapter is devoted to the subject of ‘democracy’ describing the conditions required for achieving a functional and caring democracy.
The City’s precarious situation
The parenting skills practiced by parents of the City during the past over two decades have been fundamentally flawed. The offer of financial incentives and other inducements for the students to do their duties – to diligently study – teach the students about money’s omnipotence and a corrupt attitude. Some of these students may become future corrupt officials while others would not have the slightest compunction about offering bribes to achieve their objectives. A society where corruption is rampant is a woeful society. Only a squeaky-clean government can be a responsive and responsible government. Good parenting skills play a key role in ensuring that the future of a society be squeaky clean and properly run.
It is the middle class that drives an economy and an affluent middle class means an affluent economy. Sadly, the government has been ignorantly obsessed with the notion that the plutocrats, guesstimated at 0.1 % of the City’s whole population, are the pillar of its economic strength, thus making extraordinary efforts to satisfy the economic gains and financial advantages of plutocrats and blissfully ignoring the economic might of the middle class.
The City’s survival depends exclusively on its ability to adapt and innovate as well as its entrepreneurship. With this, innovative products and technologies would serve the human needs and sell globally. With entrepreneurship, jobs would be created. Depressingly, the City is experiencing an acute shortage of innovators and entrepreneurs. With a complacent and obviously incompetent government, a cavalier attitude of the LEGCO and a population with parochial attitude and fatuous optimism, the City faces a precarious future.
Measures to salvage the situation
A corruption-free government is indispensable for establishing a harmonious and prosperous society where economic wealth is equitably distributed. Accordingly, for good management of the government and to salvage the situation, I have devised the following measures:
• To institute a novel and innovative system of education
• To completely overhaul the existing management of government, with groundbreaking reforms, the centerpiece of which is:
°° THAT corruption be completely eradicated
°° THAT ALL government bureaus and departments must be headed by professional managers
°° THAT they must NOT have the technical expertise of the bureaus or departments they head.
This book should be a final wake-up call for the City. Its many groundbreaking and even radical recommendations to reform the management of the government could act as a stimulus for the revival of the City’s fortunes.
This book should be a work of reference for those in public service and for parents learning good parenting skills in any country or place.
Chapter 1 - PARENTHOOD
Responsibilities and skills
Before you plunge into parenthood, you must realize that parenthood is a bag of financial and social responsibilities, mixed with occasional joys. It is a monumental task and you must be well-prepared for the challenges and the generation gulf which will cause constant clashes between you and your children. Parents need to make great personal and financial sacrifices to bring up their children.
Importantly, you must be knowledgeable about the following aspects affecting parenthood:
The future of your place of residence
The future of your children is inextricably linked with that of your place of residence. Nowadays, technology advances at breakneck speed and technological advancement is crucial to the survival of a place. Technological skills are crucial to the survival of your children. It follows that, if you stay in a place which does not have any industry to sustain economic growth or still depends on sunset industries to survive economically, as the situation in the City, your children would scrape a financially precarious living.
Finance and parenting skills
Before you decide to have a child, you must work out the cost to maintain the child and assess your parenting skills. As the cost of rearing one child could be a substantial amount of your household expenditure and to forestall any financial difficulty, you must work out the total cost of rearing one child until it reaches adulthood AND is financially independent. Many years ago, it was advertised in the City that the cost of rearing one child, presumably until it reached adulthood, amounted to about US$ 500,000.00. With inf lation and with housing prices having skyrocketed during the past many years in the City, the cost could now be in the region of US$ 800,000.00.
Those subsisting on small incomes and finding it difficult to make both ends meet even when childless, must deliberate very carefully over their intention to bear children. It is highly likely that their children would suffer their same fate (of eking out a difficult existence) as the poor parents.
The conventional wisdom is:
• That a university degree is a passport to financial success for the rest of the life of the degree holder
• That students receiving tertiary education should not engage in any gainful employment (to enable them to focus on their studies).
I have serious reservations about this popularly accepted belief.
Decades ago, when you were a degree holder, you would have a lifelong lucrative career. Lifelong job security; palatial residence; premier healthcare; an elitist education for your children and other presidential fringe benefits. Nowadays, with a university degree, you cannot earn your livelihood. If you are lucky enough, you could land a job paying you a paltry wage which is insufficient to cover the exorbitant rent of a decent accommodation, not to mention the other necessities of life. Often, even armed with a degree, the degree holders would not have employable skills. The lightning speed of technological advancement has rendered many industries obsolete and what the graduates have learned in university obsolete.
Strict observance of the law and prudent financial management are key attributes the children must possess to lead a trouble-free life. I will discuss children’s part-time jobs and their financial management in chapter 2.
Criminal Responsibility for Children’s Misdeeds
Parents exert considerable inf luence over their children. Most children use their parents as role models. The personality traits (positive or negative) of the children is a reflection on their parents.
If the parents were undisciplined, their children would be unruly. If the parents were intimidating, their children would tend to be violent. If the parents were inclined to circumvent the law, their children would openly f lout the law. If the parents were unscrupulous money-grabbers, their children could be bank robbers. The apple never falls far from the tree. If parents, since the birth of their children, have been instilling into them a sense of irresponsibility and criminality, their children will certainly be recidivists in the making. Necessarily and it stands to reason that, before their children reach the legal age, parents must be held responsible for the criminal acts of their children. When crimes are committed by minors, their parents must be the masterminds behind the crimes, while the children are the perpetrators.
Consequently, heavier punishment should be meted out to the parents. To avoid rearing future criminals, parents must set a good example for their children.
We must realize that parenting is not an easy task. The most important yet most diff icult skill to acquire is to nurture the intellectual development and moral sense (sense of right and wrong) of your children. It encompasses all aspects of life of your children: rearing, nurturing, educating and preparing them for the real world. I will discuss the subject of parenting skills in chapters 2 and 3.
With dependent children, marriage must endure
By now, you should agree with me that parenthood is a formidable responsibility. Both parents must be dedicated parents and must make a concerted effort to tackle the ever-changing and seemingly insoluble daily problems of their children. The effectiveness of their effort and the success of their marriage are put to the test. The undertaking of parenthood is clearly far beyond the capacity of a single parent. There are a multitude of issues that are the sources of disagreement or even argument between the parents. However irreconcilable their differences, divorce is never an option when they have dependent children.
Health and Age
Parenthood is a physically and intellectually demanding task. Since the advent of the technological revolution, the task has been fraught with seemingly insurmountable difficulties. The lightning speed of technological development has made a profound yet mutually exclusive impact on generation gap. The length of the gap has drastically reduced yet the width of the gap has widened to such an extent that it should more appropriately be termed ‘a generation gulf ’. Hence, to satisfactorily discharge your parental responsibilities, you must have physical and mental stamina. The demand for stamina suggests that you must be in good physical health to undergo parenthood. The demand for stamina exacerbated by the dramatic changes of the generation gap, both lengthwise and widthwise, calls for youthfulness and energy. Being over-age could be a serious handicap to successful parenthood.
Having considered all the challenges facing parents, you still want to have a baby. Before pregnancy, you and your spouse should undergo a thorough medical examination the objective of which is ensure that the baby will be perfectly normal, free from any disorders or hereditary defects when born. During pregnancy, periodical medical checks to ensure the birth of a perfectly normal baby should be conducted.
Examination in Parenting Skills
Poor parenting skills create serious social problems. The spate of hooliganism and blatant disregard for the law committed by the youths manifested noticeably during the Occupy disturbances is a testimony to the poor parenting skills being practiced by the vast majority of the parents in the City. Parenting is an immensely challenging and difficult yet thankless task, although, with good parenting, it can be rewarding at times. Parents are therefore required to be educated on good parenting skills. To qualify for the right to parenthood and to have the necessary parenting skills, all would-be parents must sit and pass with flying colours an examination in parenting skills. It is absolutely essential that they must, on top of passing the examination, satisfy the following criteria:
Both would-be parents must be knowledgeable about the economic and world affairs, to guide their children through the complexity of the real world;
They must prove that their present income and income in the foreseeable future will be sufficient to bring up a child until its adulthood and financial independence. In the City, such income should amount to US$ 1 million for one child; and They must undergo a medical examination to determine that the baby will be normal physically and mentally and will not have any inherited defects or diseases. Children with physical or mental disability demand round-the-clock and lifelong medical care (expense) and are a laboriously onerous task.
Chapter 2 - PARENTING SKILLS
Background of baby boomers and their children
Marked contrast between the social background of baby boomers and that of their children
The baby boomers’ era:
For decades, China adopted a closed-door policy and until the end of the 1970’s, most of its trade had been routed through the City. And the City was thus a land of ample money-making opportunities;
An elitist education system had been adopted, with two elite universities gravely limiting the supply of university graduates. In those days, only the privileged few attended universities. Those fortunate few in possession of a degree would enjoy a very comfortable standard of living for life;
The information age was only dawning. Fax machines were the wonder of the day. A dearth of business information facilitated the role of middleman. And the City was a middleman between manufacturers in China and overseas buyers. During this golden age of business opportunities, life was simpler, less competitive and less challenging. Despite their ignorance, the baby boomers were financially successful and would dabble in property speculation. Extremely complacent about their ignorance, they had never wanted to be informed of events outside the City, considering that world events were too distant to be of any effect on their money-making decisions. Their indifference to world affairs explains their aversion to reading serious material, even in Chinese. Reading (gossip columns excepted) has never been their favourite pastime. Their children have been greatly influenced by their aversion to reading;
Globalization began to emerge. Although it had its adverse effect, globalization had been a boon to the City as a middleman. It created ample business opportunities. The job market was fast expanding and what they had learned was relevant to the jobs available; and for decades, the City has been plagued by the perennial problem of housing shortage, only the nature of the problem changes over time. The middle-class baby boomers were frugal, hardworking and savvy and had accumulated considerable wealth. They would lead a frugal existence. They were mostly carbohydrate-fed, existing on a snack-free diet and were not choosy eaters (with reasonably well-built physique). However, their children are mostly picky eaters (with malnourished and sticklike physique). And, unlike their children, they had not had smartphones and other electronic gadgets to distract them from their work. In addition to accumulating wealth, they had accumulated landed properties, raising their families with comfortable means.
As China gradually adopted an open-door policy, the importance of the City’s role as a middleman gradually diminished. All things considered, it seems reasonable to say that the baby boomers have had a relatively comfortable lifestyle. Born into a completely different era, their children will lead a tough existence.