Cher­ish HK

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - ZHOU BA JUN The au­thor is a vet­eran cur­rent af­fairs com­men­ta­tor.

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.

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