Hong Kong courts disaster with culture of opposition

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 August, 2012, 10:54pm


With the anti-national education campaign on a rampage and half of the new government busy defending the curriculum, any objective observer will easily come to the conclusion that launching national education in Hong Kong schools is a fool's errand.

It would be like employing Muslims to teach the Bible in an Islamic country with the objective of enabling the students to view Christianity critically. No Christian could be converted this way, if, from primary one, children were taught that they should take Genesis with a pinch of salt.

After so many concessions as to totally disable the original objective of national education, Hongkongers still find it blasphemous, call it brainwashing and want to get rid of it. This is how ridiculous things are getting here 15 years after the handover.

This absurd situation is clearly unsustainable. Like McCarthyism and Nazism, such populist fervour will disappear, but the process may take as long as a decade and will be excruciatingly painful, leaving behind a gaping wound.

There are only a handful of scenarios for Hong Kong, a tiny administrative region within China. The first one is what is happening now, with the central government keeping a benevolent eye on the ongoing madness and reaching out with a helping hand when needed. But this happy state will not last.

In fact, it will soon end, as both the internal and external environment of the country dictate it must. The mainland is going through its most difficult period of transition since the opening-up policy was implemented in 1978. It will have to make drastic changes in response to both internal and external challenges.

In this respect, Hong Kong is not helping. It has become part of the problem and is posing as a springboard for external threats to stir internal troubles. The central government will be forced to deal with Hong Kong in a way drastically different from before.

Should China come out of the present storm unscathed, it will soon grow to become the No 1 economy in the world and will not have to entertain the feelings of the United States and the rest of the West. Economically, Hong Kong will then become much more dispensable. Unless it changes its attitude, it will surely be marginalised and wither.

Some harbour wishful thinking that the mainland will sink under internal and external pressures and that this development will be good for Hong Kong. This is the common basic premise among our dissidents and is the rationale for distancing Hong Kong from the mainland. They argue that an effective firewall between Hong Kong and the mainland will insulate us from any political and economic disruptions and guarantee our prosperity.

This has happened many times in the past and our dissidents believe the same pattern will play out again. All they have to do is foster such a trend and hasten its development.

Let us not forget that China is such a vast country that it took the much weakened Qing dynasty 70 years to crumble after the first opium war in 1842. Now that China is in the ascendancy, any regime change would take much longer.

In the interim, Beijing would inevitably fight back, and if Hong Kong were actively taking a leading role as troublemaker it would bear the brunt of the retaliation. Hong Kong would be the first to suffer should anything bad happen to the mainland.

The lesson of the story is, if Hong Kong continues along its present pathetic path, no matter what happens on the mainland, it will bode ill for Hong Kong. It is up to Hongkongers to collectively steer clear of disaster.

Lau Nai-keung is a member of the Basic Law Committee of the NPC Standing Committee and also a member of the Commission on Strategic Development