The end is nigh for prophets of doom

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 May, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 May, 1997, 12:00am

We are entering the final month of British rule not with a whimper but with a bang. Some Cassandras, particularly the Democrats, have predicted apocalypse with shrillness or glee.

But, alas, the economy which was supposed to collapse in 1996 and into 1997 has been buoyant. The stock market is breaking records and approaching the 15,000 point mark.

The other omens are just as rosy. Those here and abroad wishing us evil, while publicly rooting for our salvation, are left scratching their heads.

The pathos about the decline of the rule of law is also fizzling out with the unanimous selection of virtuous jurist Andrew Li as the chief justice which bodes well for the Court of Final Appeal and a truly independent Special Administrative Region (SAR) judiciary that will give the Chinese language equal say.

Soon for the first time litigants may hear justice done in their language which has not been available, except for a recent couple of experimental trials, for a century and a half.

The civil service, which was expected to demoralise entirely just about now, is carrying on without missing a beat after every senior official was assured of his job in the SAR.

The provisional legislature, while not a design product but a creation of last resort because of British reneging on diplomatic pledges of co-operation, is doing its work with a method and a purpose.

Opposition to the assembly has waned and its members have disappointed their critics by being engaging, candid, forthright and lively with different views being querulously aired and with even a recent walkout staged by the dissenters.

The only puppets are those who dance to the strings being pulled by implacable ideological opponents of the provisional legislature and implicitly of China recovering sovereignty as well as the local people assuming control of their own destiny in their own way.

What is more, rather than imposing a political solution for Hong Kong, China has left the decision on what types of direct elections and functional constituencies to the SAR, confident that the choice taken here will reflect the public consensus.

The Chief Executive-designate has heeded the majority opinions in the consultative exercise over the Public Order and Societies ordinances and will modify the suggested amendments to ensure the balance between individual rights and the community's need for peace and security.

The civil liberties enjoyed by the citizenry are not to be curtailed but enhanced because soon we all will have a leadership that cares for us and is rooted in Hong Kong instead of appointed by the British prime minister, anointed by the Queen and primarily responsible for the national interests of a country 11,000 kilometres away.

Our practical people have similarly rebuffed the doomsayers and rabble rousers by repeatedly emphasising that their primary concerns are housing, education and job opportunities rather than those either contrived or exaggerated issues which get the self-styled intelligentsia and the Western media in a tizzy.

Soon those odes to colonial reign and warnings about China and the people of Hong Kong being inherently incapable of doing right for and by themselves will sound like songs of long ago hit parades best played again to stoke nostalgia.

As for the Democrats and their 'the end is nigh' town criers, they must either alter their lines or consider a career change because their credibility, based on the vision of doom for Hong Kong, may become as shallow as the self regard and dignity of the SAR, and of ourselves, are deep.