One country?

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 30 July, 2012, 12:00am


What exactly was discussed earlier this month when Beijing's top representative in Hong Kong, Wang Guangya , summoned the city's leading loyalists to a meeting in Shenzhen? All we know for sure is that the meeting took place. New People's Party chief Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee confirmed she attended. As for substance, we only know what attendees leaked to the media.

Wang reportedly warned the pro-government participants against trying to bolster their chances in September's Legislative Council elections by kicking Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying when he's down. But surely, Wang understands the loyalists are less likely to win if they shoe-shined Leung. In elections, it pays to kick an unpopular leader.

That aside, Wang's meeting with local officials to discuss local elections made me wonder again where exactly the line lies between this one country and its two systems. Leung blurred the already blurry line when he refused to comment on the suspicious death of mainland activist Li Wangyang, arguing that it was not a Hong Kong matter.

Hong Kong delegate to China's parliament, Maria Tam Wai-chu, blurred it further by insisting that national education should exclude Li's death and the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown since they were 'not related to 'one country, two systems''.

When is a mainland matter a Hong Kong matter - and vice versa - under one country, two systems? Whenever earthquakes and floods ravage the mainland, concerned Hongkongers donate money and it is graciously accepted. Same goes for when mainland astronauts conquer new frontiers and athletes win international competitions. Proud Hongkongers applaud.

So why is it not a Hong Kong matter when people here care about the mainland's human rights? Hongkongers rallied during the Tiananmen uprising and tens of thousands continue to hold annual candlelight vigils. What logic drives Tam to say it should not be part of national education?

And where is the logic under one country, two systems that Leung must remain silent on Li's death, but national leaders routinely urge our leaders to fix Hong Kong's so-called deep-rooted problems? Surely, these problems - unaffordable housing, the wealth gap and so on - are local issues. You could reasonably argue that the mainland's human rights record is a deep-rooted problem, too. Should mainland leaders stop talking about our deep-rooted problems if our leaders can't talk about theirs?

In fact, national leaders have done Hongkongers a great service by pressing our leaders to fix our problems; it keeps our leaders on their toes. But local people don't like it when the mainland blatantly interferes in our politics.

Hong Kong and the mainland have merged far more than anyone could have imagined before the handover 15 years ago. It defies logic for local and national leaders to want national education for our children, yet say certain things are off limits. It's time to give local leaders more leeway to openly reflect local sentiments about the country. Being a part of China should mean being able to be involved in all aspects of the country, not just some.

Michael Chugani is a columnist and television host.