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Kong’s sovereign power.

The bureaucracy became more self-conscious of its role and

performance as 1997 drew closer. government has been suffering, to

As an

Cheung (1992: 137) explains ‘since the 1980s, the increasing extent, political stress and a legitimacy

crisis

induced

exogenously

by

China’s

growing

presence

and

influence

over

Hong

Kong’.

This has lead to a decline of which has ultimately weakened to the bureaucracy as a strategy to

authority and the relative autonomy of the government, state power. Thus public sector reform had some appeal cope with an increasingly uncertain environment.

Chow (1992: 1654) also believed that ‘1997 phobia’ meant that more civil servants were less concerned with ‘excellence’ and he found ‘the prevalence of the norm

of mediocrity’. Therefore, Lau

Political uncertainty thus undermined the motivation of civil (1997: 43) regarded attempts to improve the performance of

servants. the civil

service as part of Kong government since the reversal

the overall aim in its last years’. of sovereignty,

‘to enhance the autonomy and authority of the Hong The former Secretary of the Civil Service argues that the public now has higher expectations of the civil

service, and On the other is a general

that the civil service is now an interactive partner with China (Lam, 1999). hand, public esteem of the civil service is now declining, and although there perception that service delivery has improved overall, the civil service is still

perceived as being poor at ‘crisis management’. However, it impact of the reunification on public administration as preserved the structure of the civil service.

appears easy to overplay the the Basic Law essentially

In addition, pressure from a rising population, the increasing proportion of elderly citizens and a deteriorating environment all has potential consequences for governance in Hong Kong. Other pressures include plans to develop large-scale infrastructural facilities, such as the Port and Airport Development Strategy. The South China Morning Post (1997) argued that it was public housing, welfare, home ownership and environmental concerns that are likely to be the ‘most pressing’ issues facing the Government. Moreover, the recent ‘Right of Abode’ issue whereby the children of Hong Kong residents in mainland China ay have the right to live in Hong Kong under the Basic Law

will have a considerable impact on Chinese emigrate to Hong Kong.

local This

politics should upwards of a million issue began to test the relationship

mainland between

Beijing and Hong Kong from 1999

onwards.

9

See Lachman et al (1994: 46) for full details.

18

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