“The Politics of the Ombudsman: The Hong Kong Experience”
Johannes Chan and Vivian Wong
in Marc Hertogh and Richard Kirkham (eds), Research Handbook on the Ombudsman (Edward Edgar, 2018), pp 91-112
Abstract: This is an inter-disciplinary study on the effectiveness of the Ombudsman in Hong Kong. Established in the last days of British governance in Hong Kong, the Ombudsman was greeted with skepticism by the incoming regime and the public. The first part of this chapter reviews the role of the Ombudsman in such political context, and the constraints in establishing its credibility and extending its jurisdiction. The second part of the chapter reviews the effectiveness of the Ombudsman, particularly its experience in launching direct investigation and its success and limitations in improving the quality of public administration and governance. It is argued that in a semi-democracy, an independent Ombudsman may serve to provide the much-needed legitimacy to the governing regime. At the same time, it has to work within the political constraints and maintain its credibility. The balance requires political sensitivity and pragmatism, and the success of the Ombudsman will depend on its ability to respond to the socio-political context in which it is to operate.