Pessimists overlook positive pointers

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 July, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 July, 1996, 12:00am

The last-but-one Legislative Council year ended the way it began, with acrimony. For sure, much of the usual business got done, and we legislators can be pleased with that record.

But we may not be so proud of a series of emotive motions meant to arouse public fear for the future and loathing for China - and for ourselves.

The most blatant of these negative motions came in a series of three over consecutive weeks. They were initiated by the chairman and vice-chairmen of the Democratic Party. On paper the motions were, in chronological order, about Chinese intentions towards Hong Kong, the Basic Law and the People's Liberation Army garrison. But in essence they were all aimed at stirring up public disquiet.

Back in October I more or less anticipated what the main contention in Legco would be for the next 10 months when I started the regular proceedings with my appeal to my colleagues for co-operation, consensus, and moderation.

Legco events subsequently proved my hunch sadly correct. These motions were not for cooperation, consensus or moderation but for confrontation, discord and recrimination.

With less than a year left in the transitional period, there are no more secrets left about some people's concern about the future. We have been more preoccupied about what may or may not happen to us than any other people, but most of us just go on trying to make the best of an often difficult situation. We have not paused long enough to reflect on our real condition - stable economic growth, relatively low unemployment, a free yet law abiding society, a dedicated labour force, driven businessmen and a pragmatic society devoted to success.

I suppose it is easy to blame the queasiness of some on their lack of self-confidence and the uncertainty that stems from major change. But this is facile and unfair. I blame this fright on the unremitting pessimism of individuals who say they are Hong Kong leaders.

We are all familiar now with what is said about Hong Kong in both the domestic and foreign media; magazines and television stations are vying with each other to come up with the least favourable reports and analyses.

The harping on and on about why people should mope rather than act, be afraid rather than positive, has served many political careers in and outside Hong Kong, now and long ago.

Our people have been repeatedly bombarded with reasons why China cannot be trusted. What is trust but the product of deeds, not words? For every reason the opponents of the Special Administrative Region (SAR) may cite for us not trusting China and also ourselves, I can cite two.

China needs Hong Kong for its reforms, economic development, contacts with the outside world. China has spent the past 14 years negotiating with Britain to ensure a highly autonomous SAR, and also wooing the Hong Kong public. A nation which has no intention of honouring its commitments would not have bothered.

We too have demonstrated our strength of character as we develop our economy and benefit from the boom on the mainland. After every major crisis we not only survived but learned lessons and moved on. This resilience is not a new trait but has been such an integral part of our being that it is second nature. We have never been and will never be quitters. If Hong Kong is so hopeless, why are emigrants returning in droves and why are expatriates also streaming here as if there is gold in the hills? Instead of panicking about our future, we should be wary of those who seek to capitalise on our despair. Hong Kong has a lot to show the world and the cynics. I can assure you that I will not cease rooting for Hong Kong in Legco when it resumes in October and thereafter.