HK-mainland relations depend on dialogue and understanding
Iam very disappointed by the reaction of some “pan-democrats” over the central government’s expression of willingness to accept applications for Home Return Permits from those who had been denied these for years. I have been hoping for this to happen for a long time, believing that open dialogue and better understanding are the only way to improve relations between the “pan-democrats” and the central government. I expected the “pan-democrats”, who are self-professed liberals, to be open-minded. They should to be ready to visit the mainland and talk to those living there, so they can have a better understanding of developments there. This will cultivate trust and lay the groundwork for progress in political reform and other areas including social, economic, and cultural ones. Hong Kong badly needs this mutual trust.
This idyllic picture, unfortunately, has yet to take place. Upon hearing the news, some of the opposition members queried the timing and motives behind the move. Some worried they might not have freedom of movement once they crossed the border or would be under surveillance.
Others are unhappy with the fact that the announcement was first done unofficially through Silent Majority for Hong Kong, which sent a delegation to Beijing and was received by Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPCSC). They question why Silent Majority was given the privilege of getting the news even ahead of the SAR government and the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB). There is little doubt the central government greatly appreciates the work of Silent Majority, which was first started to voice objections to “Occupy Central” — an entirely counterproductive movement in terms of advancing political reform which disrupted Hong Kong people’s livelihoods and hurt the city’s image as socially stable and highly livable. But why should it matter that Silent Majority got the news ahead of the others? If we are liberal-minded we will not think too much of it. In particular, I would not speculate on the motives behind it. I just believe that allowing “pan-democrats” to get their Home Return Permits is the right thing to do.
Practically all the “pan-democrats” say that as Chinese nationals they should have the right to visit the mainland. Obviously there was a lack of trust and a suspicion that those denied the permits might cause trouble by linking up with anti-establishment forces on the mainland. “Pan-democrats” should of course be able to travel around freely just like other Chinese nationals. But they should stay within the law as it is understood and upheld on the main- The author is dean of business at the Chu Hai College of Higher Education.
I expected the ‘pandemocrats’, who are self-professed liberals, to be open-minded. They should to be ready to visit the mainland and talk to those living there, so they can have a better understanding of developments there.”
land. I think this is common sense.
It is high time “pan-democrats” and the SAR government came to a truce. For the sake of all Hong Kong people, we need to move on. So far, “pan-democrats” have been reading too much into every move taken by the central government. As far as I can see, there has never been any attempt to undermine the rule of law and in particular the independence of Hong Kong’s courts. The white paper on the practice of “One Country, Two Systems”, issued by the State Council in June 2014, stressed the independence of our courts, but this was wrongly misconstrued as jeopardizing this very independence.
The latest NPCSC interpretation of Article 104 of the Basic Law only stressed that any legally effective oath has to be taken respectfully and solemnly. This is as it should be. That the NPCSC found it necessary to step in was a result of incidents where the Legislative Council president allowed those who intentionally tried to distort or even ridicule the oath to retake it. Actually there is no law that gives the LegCo president or anyone else the authority to deviate from the requirements of the Oaths and Declarations Ordinance and allow a second oath-taking once a candidate has lost office by virtue of declining to take the oath solemnly.
Now that a court has ruled to uphold the law, we should all move on. We should work together in the best interests of Hong Kong within the “One Country, Two Systems” framework.