New CE shows determination to bring divided community together
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.