Democratic future for HK 'in doubt'
The rule of law and Hong Kong's other core values will remain intact over the next 15 years, but doubt looms over whether the city will become more equal and democratic, say six opinion leaders invited by the South China Morning Post to contribute to our latest debate.
Hong Kong's future is the key issue for discussion in the third and final part of our series about the city's development since the 1997 handover.
Those taking part are political commentator Dr Paul Yip Kwok-wah, National People's Congress deputy Michael Tien Puk-sun and former deputy Allen Lee Peng-fei, former government minister Joseph Wong Wing-ping, social activist Ho Hei-wah and architect Helen Leung Hay-lin.
Lee, who used to be chairman of the Liberal Party, said he saw Beijing having more control over the internal matters of Hong Kong, and that '15 years from now, I imagine that it will get worse. There are officially two power centres and 'one country, two systems' is going to be just a slogan'.
He is also worried Hong Kong is gradually becoming ungovernable.
Yip, chairman of the Hong Kong Policy Research Institute and a special adviser when Tung Chee-hwa was the chief executive, said he was also concerned about Hong Kong's governance. However, he believes that 15 years from now the chief executive and Legislative Council members will be elected by universal suffrage and that 'people will still work hard to preserve our core values: the rule of law, clean and transparent governance and freedom'.
The gap between rich and poor in Hong Kong is now at its widest in at least three decades.
Ho, the director of the Society for Community Organisation and a member of the Preparatory Task Force on the Commission on Poverty, said that he had 'a dream that 15 years from now, all cage homes will have disappeared into the dustbin of history. [I dream] there will be no more news reports about cage homes on the front pages of international media.'
The opinion leaders shared a similar view that the wealth gap and ageing population posed the major challenges for Hong Kong in the next 15 years.
Tien, who is also a vice-chairman of the New People's Party, said: 'Hong Kong will need more homes for the aged and fewer schools, plus smaller classes for our next generation. We can't afford to do things piecemeal.'
However, Wong, a former secretary for civil service, believes the challenges lie in constitutional matters and the biggest one for the chief executive 'is to defend the freedoms and rights Hongkongers enjoy and deserve under the Basic Law'.