Liberals should widen support

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 August, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 August, 2003, 12:00am

I refer to the article headlined 'Firms may baulk at direct elections, warns James Tien' (August 4), by the chairman of the Liberal Party.

James Tien Pei-chun has made a valid point. In other jurisdictions where the parliamentary system is similar to the system in Hong Kong, direct elections that brought on pro-worker rights and MPs and hence a ruling party of those views resulted in economic recession. This was caused by overspending on welfare.

Examples are the Labour government in the UK in the 1970s and the Australian Labor government in the 1980s.

It is due to their ordeals that the leftist parties in those countries are now more pragmatic in balancing the interests of different sectors of society.

The leftist parties there have changed. New Labour in the UK is now more of a centre-left party, as it is aware that while workers' rights must be protected it must also woo the business sectors in order to safeguard the workers.

In the article, Mr Tien seems to suggest that a pro-business party will lose out in a direct election. How do we explain that Australia has been run by the Liberals for the last six years? If the Liberals can rule Australia, why cannot the Liberals in Hong Kong rule Hong Kong?

Have we not also taken into account the merits of the Conservatives, who transformed the UK from a sleepy welfare state into a thriving economy?

It is time that the business sector in Hong Kong, especially those who are affiliated to the Liberal Party, takes proactive steps in gaining more political support from the wider community.

Only in a direct-election setting can political parties on both sides be more committed to society as a whole and bring their political views more to the centre, instead of the extremes we see today.

What Mr Tien said is like being 'scared of falling out of the cradle'. Hong Kong will never know how to walk if everyone thinks the same.