【明報專訊】THE World Economic Forum (WEF) has published the latest Global Competitiveness Report. Hong Kong's overall ranking has risen three places from ninth to sixth. Rises or falls in international rankings like this should not be blown out of proportion. They should be treated with common sense. It will be much more important to take the opportunity to review what we have fallen short of instead.
ENG audio 1
The report mentions that Hong Kong's first-rate infrastructure, open environment for competition and vibrant financial markets remain Hong Kong's biggest strengths. Over the past year, arguments over judicial independence have not died down thanks to the case of oath-takings, the interpretation of the Basic Law by the National People's Congress and the jailing of several social activists in recent months. Though some heavyweights in the legal field have stressed that it is wrong to say irresponsibly that "the rule of law is dead" just because the rulings are not to their liking, the arguments remain, and this inevitably affects Hong Kong's image. Hong Kong's score for judicial independence has fallen slightly from 6.3 two years ago to 6.1 (7 is the highest). It is open to question whether this is a reflection of reality or it is only a change of impression.
ENG audio 2
That Hong Kong's overall ranking has risen by three places is primarily attributable to its improvements in "business sophistication" and "innovation". The WEF has described Hong Kong as having made "a step in the right direction". However, looking at the twelve factors, it is not difficult for us to see that Hong Kong still scores relatively low in innovation at only 4.5. It is necessary for Hong Kong to play catch-up. As early as 2013, the government proposed the building of a "Smart City" to advance innovation and technology. However, two years into the founding of the Innovation and Technology Bureau (ITB), many ambitious plans are still all talk and no action, with concrete results nowhere to be seen. Last year, the government allocated $2 billion for the Innovation and Technology Venture Fund aimed at providing funding for start-ups. But it was not until this month that start-ups were invited to apply. Several months ago, the ITB commissioned a report on the blueprint for the "Smart City" plan, in which the directions for its development were outlined. But the government will not publish the blueprint until the third quarter of next year. This is too slow.
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In order to build a "Smart City", it is necessary to share data. However, many private companies in Hong Kong (such as franchised bus companies and operators of carparks) are unwilling to do so, and this is preventing the proposal of "Smart Parking" and "Smart Transportation" from being realised. The government should handle this as soon as possible. However, until now the government has shown no determination to deal with such an urgent matter urgently, and in the commissioned report it was only suggested that the government set up a central coordination unit in order to adopt an open data policy. Even if the government publishes the blueprint in autumn next year and adopts the suggestion, the time needed by the central coordination unit to resolve the problem of open data will still be cause for worry.
ENG audio 4
As described by Klaus Schwab, founder of the WEF, the world is now in an era of talentism, and capitalism in a new mode. Innovative people will replace capital as the most important factor of production. Perhaps not everyone agrees with the theory of talentism, but there is a consensus among scholars that the ability to train and attract talent will play a crucial role in determining the economic performance of different regions.