Coming up on In Conversation tomorrow: the former civil servant who yesterday said Hong Kong has “the most ridiculous political system in the world.”
In Conversation with Rachel Cartland
“When I came here, it was an extraordinarily, genuinely, entrepreneurial place. There really were little people starting up and doing things completely off their own bat. But certainly now, I think we are seeing this issue that the big businessmen now are not innovative, that they are rent seekers.” – Rachel Cartland
This week Stephen Davies is “In Conversation” with former civil servant Rachel Cartland, who – last November – published a memoir of her time in the government.
Ms Cartland came to Hong Kong in 1972 at the age of just 22. She was fresh out of Oxford University and was one of the first two female expatriate administrative officers. It was, in some ways, very much an uphill struggle for a woman in those days, she tells host Stephen Davies, but she had always felt a certain sense of vocation.
“I actually imagined myself, dreamt of myself, in an office with papers. … it all came together like a magic potion, and I found myself doing the thing that I loved most in the world.”
For Executive Producer Gary Pollard and Stephen Davies, there was a reason to talk to Ms Cartland beyond the personal.
“In the forty years she was in the civil service,” says Gary Pollard, “Hong Kong went through massive changes, and civil servants were sometimes on the front line in dealing with them. One of the things we want to explore with this series is the individual as a witness to, and participant in, history.”
During Ms Cartland’s time in the civil service, Hong Kong’s administration evolved. Highlights of her career included opening a social services centre in the now-defunct Kowloon Walled City in 1973, seeing the new towns expand during the 1980s, and establishing the Arts Development Council.
During her career Hong Kong was governed by individuals such as Sir Murray Maclehose, Sir Philip Haddon-Cave (as an Administrator) Sir Edward Youde, Sir David Akers-Jones (as Acting Governor), Sir David Wilson, and Chris Patten. She also witnessed the transition of sovereignty in 1997, and the administrative problems we face now.
“I think it’s absolutely crucial for the question of democracy to be sorted out. I think that Hong Kong has become, I mean, people would say, “ungovernable”, she says “In Conversation”, adding that Hong Kong really does need a “Mandela moment”. But where or who might it come from?
Find out more in RTHK’s “In Conversation” on TVB Pearl, on Thursday 15th May at 7 p.m. Repeated on RTHK DTTV Channel 31 at 10.30 p.m. that same night, and at the same time the following Tuesday.