There is only one option to help the city deal with the impending political crisis. That is to unite the “Love nation, Love Hong Kong” camp with the majority of Hong Kong people.
Last week, I watched thousands of Hong Kong people around Victoria Harbor celebrate a very merry Christmas. On New Year’s Eve, they will count down to a new year — 2014. Looking at their faces, no matter young or old, male or female, and full of happiness, I had some mixed feelings surging through my heart — worry as well as delight. Hong Kong is a truly lovely city where I’ve lived and worked for more than 27 years. Having worked hard throughout 2013, I like to take a short break during the festive season. However, as a current affairs’ commentator, I am concerned that the city is heading for an unprecedented political crisis. The ongoing public consultation on constitutional development toward universal suffrage is very likely to end in a deadlock. The community is being threatened by the “Occupy Central” campaign, which one of its advocates likens to a “nuclear bomb”.
Many Hong Kong people should know what is happening in the territory. Why were there no signs of anxiety during the long holidays of Christmas and New Year? The question should be answered by relevant opinion polls. But, as a public intellectual, I have to stress clearly that the Hong Kong SAR government, local political organizations and all sections of society should be aware of the impending crisis.
Since the middle of the 1980s, “maintaining Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity” has been a consistent priority for the territory. Now, in the face of unprecedented political challenges, the city’s priorities should be changed to “cherish Hong Kong our home”.
Frankly speaking, “Hong Kong our home” is to, some extent, different from that the government slogan “Hong Kong Our Home”. As with the “Hong Kong Our Home” campaign, the territory is “Home” only for Hong Kong people and permanent residents and this idea is also based on the city’s traditional values. To my mind, though the city is also undoubtedly “Home” to seven million Hong Kong people because permanent and non-permanent residents are equal. The city has been transformed from being the British-ruled colony into the special administrative region of the People’s Republic China. So, its traditional values have to change with the times.
It’s well known that most people who emigrated to Hong Kong came from the mainland. People who haven’t lived here for seven years are named “new immigrants”. They are part of the “seven million Hong Kong people”. However, since 2004, they have been obviously restricted by the government’s social welfare policies.
Since the current SAR government took office, it has implemented a series of new policies which merely uphold Hong Kong permanent residents’ interests. Even though the government has no intention of downgrading new immigrants, the negative effects of these policies on the relationship between permanent residents and new immigrants cannot be ignored.
These are two sides to the same coin: On one side, the Hong Kong community is divided between the permanent residents and the new immigrants. On the other, the Hong Kong SAR and its motherland are divided by a so-called “visible boundary” (the border between Hong Kong and Shenzhen) as well as a so-called “invisible boundary” (the ideological differences between the two sides of Shenzhen River). Why then does the opposition have the audacity to launch the “Occupy” campaign? One important factor is that “Hong Kong Our Home” has been bounded by the “visible boundary” and the “invisible boundary”.
So, I support the judgment that the HKSAR’s Court of Final Appeal made on Dec. 17, 2013, which overturned the regulation that applicants of the Comprehensive Social Security Allowance (CSSA) should be residents of Hong Kong for at least seven years. The regulation was introduced in 2004. Then, the government had reported substantial deficits for five successive fiscal years. Thus, reducing social welfare expenditure was essential to cut the deficit. Nevertheless, in the year 2005/2006 financial year, the government eliminated the budget deficit. Since then, it continuously reports a surplus. So regulations restricting new immigrants from social welfare seem to be somewhat discriminatory.
The Court of Final Appeal’s verdict has been criticized. Someone even asked the SAR government to reduce the number of new immigrants from the mainland!
I reiterated in this column that only when Hong Kong removes the ideological barrier between the city and the mainland, can the city overcome its future difficulties. To cherish Hong Kong, Hong Kong needs to open up more to the motherland.
There is only one option to help the city deal with the impending political crisis. That is to unite the “Love nation, Love Hong Kong” camp with the majority of Hong Kong people. These people don’t want to see their city ruined by the “Occupy” movement. Hong Kong must also carry out constitutional development according to the Basic Law and decisions by the NPCSC.