cab chat

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 February, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 27 February, 2004, 12:00am

Tang Chi-ming, 37, says the ongoing debate over patriotism is like a family dispute.

Ride from Admiralty to Quarry Bay.

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It is absolutely impossible to lay down in black and white the definition of patriotism and what qualifies one to be a patriot.

I think I am a true patriot, but if you use the Chinese government's yardstick, I would very likely fail the test because I don't always agree with what the government says. But if you take all the rigid definitions out of the equation, I think a patriot is someone who loves and protects his country. It's that simple.

The protracted argument over patriotism has been blown out of proportion. The issue has been made a lot more complicated than it should be.

It has been hijacked by a few politicians who want to score points to help them in the Legislative Council elections later this year. Hong Kong people are smart enough to distinguish between right and wrong, the truth and the sugar-coated lies.

If the patriot debate had been less politically charged, I think more meaningful arguments might have surfaced. At this stage, the issue has become too hot for many to handle, and for that reason it maybe has scared off a lot of people who might have something sensible to say.

If we take away the political sentiments of the patriotism discussion, we would find it much easier to deal with. If we bring the issue closer to our hearts, we will understand that it's similar to a family argument. We are all one big family. And because we are family means we don't have to agree with each other all the time. It is all part of living together and trying to get along.

Just because we have different aspirations and hold different views doesn't mean we don't love our country or feel proud to be Chinese. I think arguing with each other, as a form of communication to stimulate a response, is quite healthy. It gives people the opportunity to relieve pressure as well as avoid misunderstandings.

I'm always very sceptical of what politicians say and do. They are not here to help us without personal gain. What upsets me most is that those who say they represent the working class are actually using the unemployed to win more public support. They are being exploited as some politicians cash in on the growing negative sentiment people have towards politicians.

We all know that we don't have strong government leaders and their performance is mediocre. But we don't need to be reminded over and over again. We need to take action to change the current state of affairs.

I don't think our politicians are very forthcoming with solutions. Many of them are merely good at finger-pointing. Being critical takes no effort, but being thoughtful and constructive takes time.

It's time to rebuild Hong Kong, in terms of the economy, public confidence and trust. We have to change our earlier attitude which focused only on singling out and punishing the guilty ones. There is no point in kicking and bashing someone who's already down. We know what the problems are; we need to find some good fixers.

The same applies to the current debate over patriotism. There is no doubt that we all love our country, although we might express it differently and hold different political views.

I don't see why we should set down rules and guidelines to measure patriotism. And what's the point of talking about how patriotic we are. The true patriot should prove his loyalty through action.

It's a bit like love. You don't just talk about how much you love someone; the best testament is to demonstrate it with action.

I think the patriot debate will soon die down. A lot has already been said over the last few weeks. Those embroiled in the debate are running out of steam, while the public is running out of patience. I bet people will soon focus their attention elsewhere.