Help! I've Wandered into a "Yes Minister" Episode

First published: 17th October 2011

Since 1997, Hong Kong has kept many institutions from the British administration: driving on the left, colonial names like Victoria Park, Aberdeen, Prince Edward and Queen's Road, and a professional, efficient bureaucracy. I recently was able to verify the continued existence of the last of these in the Education Bureau, when the Equal Opportunities Commission assisted me in getting information I needed to make my Submission to the Consultation on Moral and National Education Curriculum, as can be seen in the following clause of the agreement we reached:

2. Without any admission of liability, the Respondent agrees to

  1. release an English version of the full consultation paper on Moral and National Education Curriculum by the end of July 2011;
  2. inform persons who had requested an English version of the consultation paper of its availability on 29 July 2011;
  3. use the flicker effect on the Respondent’s webpage to draw readers’ attention to the availability of the English consultation paper and set up an English webpage on the topic of the Moral, Civic and National Education by phases;
  4. use best endeavours to issue both Chinese and English versions of any consultation documents simultaneously for public perusal, failing which to consider the Complainant’s suggestion of providing a time frame for when the other language version would be available, or to give an explanation for why a time frame could not be provided as far as it is practicable at the time concerned.

I would have liked to prevent future difficulties by the introduction of a policy to issue both Chinese and English version of consultation documents simultaneously. The Bureau did not promise this, they did not commit to providing a time frame for translation either. Strictly speaking, they did not even promise to give an explanation why a translation time frame could not be provided, an explanation would only be given if it was practicable at the time concerned. Sir Humphrey Appleby would be so proud.

The clause quoted above has been confirmed to be not confidential.


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