New CE shows de­ter­mi­na­tion to bring di­vided com­mu­nity to­gether

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT -

Car­rie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, the fifth-term chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Hong Kong Spe­cial Ad­min­is­tra­tive Re­gion and its govern­ment, has demon­strated a hands-on gov­ern­ing style since tak­ing of­fice on July 1. Of par­tic­u­lar sig­nif­i­cance are ef­forts made by the new govern­ment to bring a di­vided so­ci­ety back to­gether.

Lam quickly un­der­took three im­por­tant ini­tia­tives. The first was on July 2 when she vis­ited lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties in Hong Kong, Kowloon and the New Ter­ri­to­ries. Then on July 5 she un­veiled to the Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil a pro­posed ad­di­tional fund­ing pack­age for ed­u­ca­tion, al­lo­cat­ing HK$3.6 bil­lion a year. This cov­ered such ar­eas as rais­ing the teacherto-class ra­tio by 0.1; vouch­ers for stu­dents who take classes at ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions at their own ex­pense and mak­ing spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion needs co­or­di­na­tor a reg­u­lar po­si­tion. The ad­di­tional fund­ing pack­age re­ceived broad sup­port from the ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor be­fore­hand and pos­i­tive feed­back from other sec­tors as well. It is ex­pected to pass in the LegCo af­ter three read­ings. The third ini­tia­tive was an of­fer to in­crease her meet­ings with law­mak­ers in a bid to im­prove the ex­ec­u­tive-leg­isla­tive re­la­tion­ship.

The “pan-demo­crat” camp is cur­rently in a “wai­t­and-see” mode re­gard­ing the new CE’s ad­min­is­tra­tive style. Nat­u­rally the “lo­cal­ist” rad­i­cal se­ces­sion­ists are against every­thing she pro­motes. The proestab­lish­ment camp, of course, sup­ports her. All in all, the fifth-term SAR govern­ment is en­joy­ing a rea­son­ably good start.

In his speech at the swear­ing-in cer­e­mony for the fifth-term HKSAR Govern­ment and cel­e­bra­tion of the 20th an­niver­sary of the es­tab­lish­ment of the HKSAR on July 1, Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping said the SAR govern­ment and Hong Kong res­i­dents must “al­ways main­tain a har­mo­nious and sta­ble so­cial en­vi­ron­ment”. The cen­tral govern­ment has al­ways been will­ing to com­mu­ni­cate with any­one re­gard­less of their po­lit­i­cal views as long as they sin­cerely love Hong Kong as well as the coun­try and up­hold the “one coun­try, two sys­tems” prin­ci­ple and the Ba­sic Law.

The pres­i­dent also quoted some an­cient Chi­nese wis­dom by say­ing “Amity builds peace whereas con­trari­ness causes di­vi­sion”. De­spite its rich fi­nan­cial re­serves Hong Kong can­not af­ford be­ing con­sumed by in­ter­nal con­flicts while faced with tremen­dous chal­lenges brought by po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic changes hap­pen­ing around the world right now. Xi added that only with unity and joint ef­forts can Hong Kong so­ci­ety fo­cus on mak­ing the city even bet­ter.

The pres­i­dent’s heart­felt words will mo­ti­vate the new SAR govern­ment to do its very best, with the great ma­jor­ity of Hong Kong res­i­dents’ high ex­pec­ta­tions in mind. Those in the op­po­si­tion camp who know bet­ter should heed pop­u­lar wishes and work to­ward a bright fu­ture.

An old Chi­nese say­ing goes like this: “Ev­ery jour­ney, long or short, be­gins with the first step.” The new SAR govern­ment has taken its first step to­ward eas­ing the po­lit­i­cal an­i­mos­ity that is split­ting the so­ci­ety and there is more to come. The The au­thor is a se­nior re­search fel­low of China Ever­bright Hold­ings.

march to­ward so­cial har­mony and sta­bil­ity is un­der­way; it will not stop un­til we achieve this goal.

The next dis­trict coun­cil elec­tion is sched­uled to take place in Novem­ber 2019. This means Hong Kong has more than two years to work on mend­ing so­cial di­vi­sions. Dur­ing this time there is no elec­tion for po­lit­i­cal or­ga­ni­za­tions. So there is no rea­son for them to fight over ev­ery sin­gle vote they can win and adopt any po­lit­i­cal pos­ture con­ceiv­able. It is a bona fide “golden op­por­tu­nity” for ef­forts to build so­cial har­mony, un­til the day comes when all po­lit­i­cal groups turn their at­ten­tion to ral­ly­ing voter sup­port to ex­tend their chances of win­ning as many dis­trict coun­cil seats as they can.

For the “pan-demo­crat” camp there are two po­lit­i­cal ob­jec­tives they will strive for at all costs — restart elec­toral re­form to achieve what they call “true democ­racy” and op­pose na­tional se­cu­rity leg­is­la­tion un­der Ar­ti­cle 23 of the Ba­sic Law be­fore the im­ple­men­ta­tion of uni­ver­sal suf­frage. They are ex­pected to keep talk­ing about these ob­jec­tives over the next two years and four months and in­crease pres­sure on the SAR govern­ment as dis­trict coun­cil elec­tion cam­paigns en­ter the fi­nal stretch.

The SAR govern­ment must step up ef­forts to ac­cel­er­ate eco­nomic devel­op­ment and im­prove peo­ple’s well-be­ing in the next two years or so. The stronger lo­cal res­i­dents’ sense of ac­com­plish­ment be­comes, the eas­ier it will be for the govern­ment to win pop­u­lar sup­port for con­sti­tu­tional obli­ga­tions such as restart­ing the elec­toral re­form or pre­sent­ing the na­tional se­cu­rity bill ac­cord­ing to Ar­ti­cle 23 of the Ba­sic Law.

The two con­sti­tu­tional obli­ga­tions men­tioned above are not the most press­ing tasks at hand but there is one very ur­gent is­sue the SAR govern­ment must re­solve soon. This is the co-lo­ca­tion of im­mi­gra­tion and cus­toms clear­ance op­er­a­tions by both the HKSAR and main­land in­side the GuangzhouShen­zhen-Hong Kong Ex­press Rail Link’s (XRL) West Kowloon Ter­mi­nus. Lam warned the pub­lic it will be a very tough up­hill bat­tle be­cause it con­cerns law-en­force­ment op­er­a­tions by main­land author­i­ties in Hong Kong.

Un­til this is­sue is re­solved for good the XRL can­not be­gin ser­vices, but Hong Kong’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in the emerg­ing Guang­dong-Hong Kong-Ma­cao Greater Bay Area will also be de­layed. It is hoped mem­bers of the op­po­si­tion who know bet­ter will sup­port the govern­ment’s co-lo­ca­tion ar­range­ment in the best in­ter­ests of Hong Kong. The proestab­lish­ment par­ties should work to­gether eas­ing pub­lic fears as well as help­ing the govern­ment.

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