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  • Dec 19, 2014
  • Updated: 11:25pm
My Take
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 November, 2012, 3:12pm

The centre is quickly losing its hold

The mainland sees "one country". Others in Hong Kong prefer "two systems". Between these two antithetical positions, many of us on both sides have thought we could fudge this nebulous, contradictory but supremely useful formula, at least until 2047.

That is becoming a political fantasy. You must now belong to one camp or the other. If you are for democracy, you must be against the central government; and vice versa. You are no longer allowed to make judgments on case-by-case merit. For or against. One side or the other. Choose.

It appears the centre is quickly losing its hold.

Tit for tat. For every action on one side, there is an equal or even fiercer reaction from the other. That is now the political discourse in Hong Kong.

Disgruntled young Hong Kong men waved the colonial flag to spite mainland officials. That provoked the rude remark of Lu Ping, a former Hong Kong and Macau affairs chief, that advocates of independence were "sheer morons". His former deputy, Chen Zuoer, warned pro-independence forces were "spreading like a virus".

Former justice secretary Elsie Leung Oi-sie blasted local judges and the legal profession for misunderstanding Hong Kong-mainland relations and the top court for making mistakes. This led Mr Justice Kemal Bokhary to warn of "a storm of unprecedented ferocity" over rule of law and the Bar Association to denounce her.

Now Zhang Xiaoming, a top mainland official in charge of Hong Kong affairs, has predictably provoked a furious backlash after alleging external powers are helping the city's opposition parties and that "necessary measures" such as implementing a national security law are needed to counter them.

If we had a competent government, it might be able to mitigate the mutual disregard and antagonism. But it is proving to be hapless or worse.

Tragedy is said to be the clash between two rights. "One country" and "two systems" are both valid. But combining them required the greatest of pragmatism and goodwill on both sides. That's precisely what we are running short of.

Yeats was right: "The falcon cannot hear the falconer/Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold."

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This article is now closed to comments

spunkyjj
China should never see itself as the falconer and must refrain from attempting to "tame" the falcon (here I believe Alex Lo takes the metaphor to mean Hongkongers). Hongkongers are reasonable and self-confident people who respect other people's right (including those of China's as stipulated in the Basic Law) and expect other people to respect their's (ours as stipulated in the Basic Law). We will never accept to be tamed, regardless how atrocious the taming may get. China's continued threat expressed through some incompetent officials will undermine many Hongkongers' faith that China can be trusted to honour what they have pledged and signed into law. For as long as China holds onto this "taller than ya" attitude towards Hong Kong, Hongkonger's discontent will continue to intensify. You can count on it.
shouken
Great article!!!
This is exactly why in recent years I have recanted my position of 1989, when I was 18, regarding the student demonstrators in Beijing. The students, particularly the blood-thirst uncompromising intransigent die-hard student leaders, were equally culpable as the government in provoking the tragic result. The government is showing compromise and good will by waiting 2 weeks after declaring martial law. It was the students' turn to show some reciprocal respect. But, alas, it was not to be, because one side grew relentless, convinced that they have occupyed the moral high ground.
This time, it would be nice to see both sides show restraint.
wwong888
shouken! you are right! june 4 massacre was not the governments fault! government only had tanks and guns and shot unarmed students. how dare the students challenge the dear leaders! you are so correct that the government showed restraint! praise the party! scienfitic developemnt for all!
spunkyjj
All 7 million Hongkongers are morons? And Lu Ping knows that for a fact? Who's the moron here?
shouken
7 million HKers in unison regarding HK independence? Are you not deliberately misreading even Lu Ping? Did he say ALL hongkongers?
whymak
"Who's the moron here?"
Mindless lobotomized zombies chanting slogans, blocking traffic and inconveniencing pedestrians qualify for the moron label. Have you done it too?
whymak
Whether Mr. Zhang Xiaoming means business or not remains to be seen. But his words are like a deadly insecticide sending subversive minded banana roaches scampering into the open.
Watch out! As insects' nervous system disintegrates by poisonous chemicals in the spray, they will bite at anything that moves, especially those Hong Kongers who look and smell like Chinese.
All systems under dynamical equilibrium from physical ones to well functioned economic and political variety have two opposing sets of forces, with one counter balancing the other while the system is in continuous motion. An attractive force requires the presence of a repulsive one. Even then, this simple minded concept of give-and-take alone cannot guarantee system equilibrium.
China’s stability for the last 3 1/2 decades has demonstrated why balance of powers within a single CCP, but not a one-party dictatorship as perceived by some, produces a due process of succession with little of the self-destructive power struggles seen in many populist elections.
Although I can't agree totally with Lu Ping, I am beginning to see his side of the argument too that some Hong Kongers are indeed morons, among them is a professorial insect engaging in a kamikaze attack on our Chief Executive's spouse.
shouken
Bravo! Better written than even Alex Lo!
wwong888
praise the party! long live mao!
xiaoblueleaf
HKers should be grateful (to Buddha?) that HK has been left alone to strive up to this point. Time has arrived for "scrutuizing the accounts after Autumn" as HK now is setting a bad example and potential theat with so many visitors from the north seeing the freedom HKers enjoy which is non-existent to them. "One country, two system" is tolerated only as a matter of convenience under the doctrine and practice of "one party dictatorship".

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