Former chief secretary for administration Anson Chan
delivered a stunning blow to her former government colleague, Donald Tsang, when
she joined the massive pro-democracy rally >> more
Answers according to Anson
She was chatty, she was entertaining, but more
importantly, she was forthright. Hong Kong's former chief secretary, Anson Chan
Fang On-sang, spoke her mind - on corruption in high places on the mainland,
democracy, transparency and the "valued rights and freedoms" enjoyed
by Hong Kong people - as she addressed politicians, academics and world business
leaders at the annual International Students' Committee (ISC) Symposium at the
University of St Gallen, Switzerland, last week.
Mrs Chan, who had declined to give press interviews
before the seminar on the subject "China - Political and Economic
Leadership - a Challenge to Growth and Prosperity" on the basis that she
was no longer in the political frontline, was candid as she balanced her fears
over what could happen in Hong Kong if there was violence during any protest
march on July 1 with her upbeat assessment of China's emerging position as a
major player on the world stage.
It had taken three years to lure her to the annual symposium - founded,
organised and run entirely by students. The forum, now in its 34th year, was
founded by a small group of international undergraduates at St Gallen, about
70km east of Zurich, in 1969 as a way of fostering dialogue between the
generations and promoting rational debate following the student protests in
Europe in 1967 and 1968, with the first forum taking place in 1970.
ICS student team leader Alexander Pfannenberg, 21, a
business administration undergraduate and the committee's "ambassador"
to Hong Kong and China this year, said Mrs Chan was too busy to attend the first
year he approached her and that Sars had prevented her from appearing last year.
He considered it something of a coup to get her and
the mainland's Vice-Minister for Education, Wu Qidi, to speak. Twenty students
from the mainland and four from Hong Kong - three from the Chinese University of
Hong Kong and one from the University of Hong Kong - also attended.
Speakers had made references in keynote speeches to
China's accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and emergence as major
economic power, as symposium moderator Lord Griffiths of Fforestfach,
vice-chairman of Goldman Sachs International, summed up when he introduced Dr Wu
"In every session we've had so far, every speaker
has referred to China. It has been at the back of all our minds and as people
think today of global policy, China is there as a must," he said. It was
with a sense of anticipation, therefore, that a capacity audience in one of the
seminar rooms on the fringe of the symposium waited to hear what Mrs Chan had to
Softly spoken, she was relaxed and informal as she
addressed about 70 key decision-makers. One of the biggest challenges to growth
and prosperity, she said, was "endemic corruption" - institutionalised
under-the-counter payments and connections - which she differentiated from the
simpler and more personal "one-on-one" kind, and said it would require
determination to get rid of.
"You will need a good deal of political will to
tackle corruption at the highest level because of the vested interests
involved," she said. "You require the rule of law, rather than the
rule of man. You need a good, clean civil service if the rights and freedoms of
civil society that allow a person to make choices are to be protected."
Mrs Chan contrasted the culture of corruption
prevalent on the mainland with the rule of law in Hong Kong and said, in answer
to a question about the differences between the SAR and Shanghai, that although
Shanghai had advantages, Hong Kong held the moral and legal high ground.
"Shanghai may have good physical infrastructure
but Hong Kong has the rule of law, an independent judiciary and a clean civil
service. Provided we stay ahead of the game I see a continued role for Hong
She said part of the problem with beating corruption
on the mainland was low pay, and stressed that Hong Kong had managed to combat
it by raising the educational standards of the police as well as
"considerably increasing their salaries". While wages were low there
was an incentive for people to take corrupt payments to make ends meet. High
unemployment as a result of the move towards a free economy compounded the
"The difficulty in a country where there is
endemic corruption is to find people who understand its evil," she said.
"You need honesty, a sense of public service and integrity." If you
wanted a driving licence in Hong Kong, she explained by way of example, you knew
you could get one if you met certain criteria. This contrasted with countries
where you could buy one under the counter.
Mrs Chan said Hong Kong people were justifiably proud
of their rights and freedoms. "Hong Kong progression has been at a very
different pace to that of the mainland, largely due to two legacies of British
rule: rule of law and an efficient civil service. We value our rights and
freedoms and I hope Hong Kong people will continue to feel it is alright to
stand up for them," she said.
She also described Hong Kong as "good place to
experiment" with democracy and said it was a place where it "could
succeed". But she stressed that there needed to be more dialogue between
Hong Kong and Beijing. "There must be trust, a willingness to discuss
different points of view," she said.
"Hopefully we can persuade the central government
of the need for full democracy in Hong Kong ... but we must also strike a
consensus in Hong Kong as to the pace of change."
Answering a question on "how much [protest]
mainland leaders could take", she warned there was an element of
uncertainty because they did not always act in their long-term interests.
"Your question raises a disturbing point," she said. "Everybody
expects a demonstration on July 1. I don't think as many people will turn up as
"But I'm not sure that it will be as peaceful
because of the changes and developments, and I'm not certain what could happen
if it did turn violent. The central government does not always do what is in its
long-term interest. So I hope sincerely that it will be carried out in Hong
Kong's normal sensible manner. I hope it will be peaceful for all our
Mrs Chan said she doubted that western-style democracy
was necessarily the right answer for the mainland. "In a vast country like
China with so many disparities, I feel full democracy there in the western sense
is a luxury, but component parts are important."
She gave the right to worship and the ability of
individuals to make free choices, unhindered by threats or corruption, as
examples. "I don't think it is beyond ingenuity for China to come up with a
democratic model with Chinese characteristics that is accepted by the
Mrs Chan was hopeful that mainland institutions would
gradually become more transparent as a result of the accession to the WTO and
the move towards free enterprise. "As the country continues to grow and
prosper and people see a raising of standards, they will naturally demand a
better say, more participation. I think there could be pressure for
change," she said.
"That isn't to say that there has not already
been political development. There are more non-governmental organisations, more
consumer rights groups, more elections at party level. The country is also
embracing private entrepreneurs and there are also more professional lawyers.
"There were about 3,000 in the 1980s, the latest
figures show there to be around 20,000," she said. And she raised a laugh
among delegates when she added: "Mind you, that's not an unmitigated
blessing, although they do have a role to play.
"I have no doubt that China will increasingly
play by the rules of the international community," she added. "Not
just with open trade, but also where human rights and dignity are
Mrs Chan said the present central government
leadership, many of whom had been through the Cultural Revolution, were
"setting the right tone". "Anybody who has been through the
Cultural Revolution must have come away with a sense of disillusionment. This
generation of leadership may be more pragmatic and place more emphasis on the
poorer parts of China, such as the west, rather than the inner cities," she
"I'm not suggesting that you will see radical
change, but they will want to be listening to the people and meeting their
aspirations, at least in part. The leadership has set the tone, such as visiting
Aids centres. I think that augurs well for the development of the Chinese
people," she said.
Sars had been a salutary lesson and "good wake-up
call" for Hong Kong and the mainland. "It was an example of how a lack
of transparency can have devastating consequences. We were even told it was a
secret when we first asked. Every experience is a learning curve," she
said. - by Steve Cray
China Morning Post 20 May
Top royal honour for Anson
Former Chief Secretary for Administration Anson Chan has been honoured by
Britain's Queen Elizabeth for her 34 years of service in Hong Kong before 1997
when the territory reverted to Chinese rule.
She becomes the first Hong Kong citizen to be awarded
an honorary Dame Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and
The honour is usually given to retired governors or
British subjects who have rendered important services abroad or in the
Commonwealth. It will allow Chan to use the initials GCMG after her name, but
not the title ``Dame''.
Another famous recipient is former US president Ronald
Reagan who was awarded a Knight Grand Cross.
Chan, 62, is the second woman in Hong Kong to be
granted high honour by the Queen.
Lydia Dunn, former senior member of the Legislative
and Executive Councils, was made a dame in 1989 and a baroness in 1990.
Chan said last night she was ``delighted and
``I understand that only retired governors are
bestowed this honour. But as a Chinese citizen and having served the Hong Kong
Government for 40 years, the award is a recognition of my achievements before
the handover and I am very gratified.''
Chan, 62, was appointed Chief Secretary in 1993, a
post which she held until last year. Sir James Hodge, the British
Consul-General, will present the award in Hong Kong.
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw welcomed the
honour. ``I warmly congratulate Anson Chan on this award. Her distinguished
service and her enormous contribution to public life in Hong Kong mean she fully
deserves such an honour,'' he said in a statement.
Chan also announced yesterday she had been appointed a
director of the Founders Share Company that ensures the independence and
integrity of the Reuters news service. It is her first appointment after leaving
the civil service.
Chan said she had accepted the position without any
remuneration. - Michael
Kong Standard 7 Nov 2002
As Chief Secretary for Administration
of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government, Mrs Anson Chan is
principal adviser to the Chief Executive and heads the 190,000-strong civil
service in Hong Kong.
She was appointed Chief Secretary of
the Hong Kong Government in November 1993, the first Chinese and the first woman
to hold the position after 150 years of British incumbents.
The Chief Secretary for Administration
ranks second to the Chief Executive, and Mrs Chan advises him on matters of
policy, deputises for him during his absence and is responsible for the
effective implementation of the full range of Government policies. She is the
Senior Official Member of the Executive Council, the highest policy-making body
in Hong Kong.
Mrs Chan is a career public servant.
She joined the Hong Kong Government as an Administrative Officer in 1962. She
has held many senior positions in the Administration dealing with finance, the
economy, commerce, industry and social services. She has been Director of Social
Welfare and Secretary for the Civil Service.
Mrs Chan was Secretary for Economic
Services between 1987 and 1993, a Cabinet-level post which gave her
responsibilities for overseeing the development of Hong Kong's physical
infrastructure, including ambitious port and airport facilities, the
liberalisation of Hong Kong's telecommunications market, tourism, energy, food
supplies and the monitoring of public utility companies.
Mrs Chan was born in Shanghai in 1940.
She moved with her family in 1948 to Hong Kong, where she received her
education. She graduated from the University of Hong Kong with a BA(Hons) in
English and English Literature.
Mrs Chan was made an official Justice
of the Peace (JP) in 1975 and a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the
British Empire (CBE) in 1992 and was awarded the Grand Bauhinia Medal (GBM) in
1999. She holds honorary degrees from Tufts University, the University of Hong
Kong, the University of Liverpool and the Open University of Hong Kong. She was
conferred the title of Honorary Professor at Shanghai Jiao Tong University in
1997 and title of Honorary Fellow by the School of Oriental and African Studies
at the University of London in 2000.
Mrs Chan is married to Mr Archibald
Chan Tai Wing, a Consultant of Caltex Oil (HK) Limited. They have a daughter, a
son and three grandchildren.
of Hong Kong
up the fight, says Anson Chan
Former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang
On-sang yesterday urged the public 'not to give up' in the fight for democracy,
and said the national legislature's decision to rule out early universal
suffrage had undermined confidence in Hong Kong's autonomy.
Her remarks came as politicians, academics
and leading lawyers said they would continue to seek direct election of the
chief executive in 2007 and all legislators in 2008. Some said they would not
consider government proposals for anything less.
Mrs Chan said the public 'should continue to
express [its] views in a rational and peaceful manner' and engage in
'constructive dialogue' with Beijing. The Hong Kong government should act to
restore confidence, she added, and 'start considering how to consult the public
in a sincere manner' about the arrangements for the 2007 election.
Members of the Article 45 Concern Group - a
group of leading barristers understood to be on better terms with Beijing than
their colleagues in the pro-democracy camp - said the fight for democracy should
be conducted on the streets and in the September Legco election.
Two members, Ronnie Tong Ka-wah and Alan
Leong Kah-kit, said the public should take to the streets on July 1 to press
Fellow group member Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee said
it would listen to government proposals on reform, but would not itself propose
anything short of universal suffrage.
The Democratic Development Network said
it would snub government consultations on constitutional reform. Its chairman,
the Reverend Chu Yiu-ming, said it was meaningless to talk to a government that
twisted public opinion. Saying Beijing had buried the possibility of early
universal suffrage, he added: 'I don't know what can be done inside a coffin.'
- by Ambrose Leung and Louisa Yan South
China Morning Post 29 April 2004
Christine Fang Meng-sang (pictured),
chief executive of the Hong Kong Council of Social Services
source: SCMP photo
Anson Chan backs her cousin's bid for
The cousin of former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang
On-sang yesterday announced her bid for September's Legislative Council
elections, saying she would push for early universal suffrage.
Christine Fang Meng-sang (pictured), chief executive
of the Hong Kong Council of Social Services, will run for the social welfare
functional constituency. Mrs Chan yesterday openly backed her cousin's bid for
"Legco should have more people like Christine,
who is not biased and speaks her mind,'' she said. Mrs Chan believed mainland
officials also hoped to communicate more with local people, especially those
running for Legco.
Ms Fang kicked off her campaign by criticising tycoons
who have warned against turning Hong Kong into a welfare state.
Ms Fang said she was in favour of dialogue on reform
and supported universal suffrage "as early as possible''.
She is seen as a strong contender in the constituency
after the Democratic Party's Law Chi-kwong decided not to seek re-election. She
criticised Beijing for suppressing people's desire for universal suffrage but
said she had regular contact with mainland officials. - by Jimmy
China Morning Post
10 May 2004