References to the “rule of law” have snowballed in recent weeks as Hong Kong officials have sought to relaunch the economy and find new opportunities for growth in the aftermath of the damage from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The rule of law is a general term which embraces an open system, an independent judiciary, a level playing field, transparency, speedy trials and a requirement that the administration exercises its powers fairly.
Each was the highest bidder, but neither was permitted to sign the contract. No reason was offered; rather, attention was drawn to a clause in the auction procedure document which allowed the government not to award the stall to any successful bidder. This is unsettling. It suggests there are some circumstances where the playing field is not level, and there is no need for the government to be transparent.
Some might argue this is a trivial matter. Who cares who secures the right to sell flowers or knick-knacks at a local fair? Perhaps those making the decision were proceeding out of an abundance of caution.
Mike Rowse is an independent commentator