FS John Tsang articulates a comprehensive philosophy for governance. He affirms the importance of free markets while addressing the pain of the ‘displaced’.
(Photo credit: Lion Rock Institute)
“It’s very tempting to think that current policy issues are different from those thirty or forty years ago. They are not different. They are identical to the issues we face today,” said Nick Sallnow-Smith, chairman of the Lion Rock Institute at the annual dinner on 14 November.
The annual gala featured two Johns – with Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah as the guest of honour, while a commemoration was held for John James Cowperthwaite, colonial Financial Secretary between 1961 to 1971 who died ten years ago.
“Sir John [Cowperthwaite] was a Scot. And he exhibited the traits that this tribe are famed for: Financial prudence on economy, personal reserve, an economy with words, a strong work ethic and deep concern with the welfare of the poor, and a sense of obligation for one’s fellows,” Bill Stacey, first and former chairman of the pro-free-market think tank noted. The enthusiastic applause from the business people and academics in the room, meanwhile, showed that they had high expectation of the other John to – at least – uphold the same values as his predecessor.
While celebrating Hong Kong as the “freest economy” by various research institutions, Tsang responded by emphasising the importance of globalisation and open economies, and how these principles, with the help of education policies, can simultaneously foster prosperity and fairness in society .
“I believe that no other single movement or market trend in modern history carries the same powerful effect and successful impact as globalisation,” Tsang said. “And I believe education is the most powerful tool that can help us achieve that noble goal [improving the competitiveness of the workforce]. Education is the engine for transforming society and in driving the economy forward.”
While Tsang kept mum concerning the upcoming Chief Executive elections, he hold out the possibility of a return performance, explaining “I certainly would not attempt to change a formula that has worked so well because if I were to do so, I do not think that I would be invited to this free dinner again. So until the next time – if there is a next time.”
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