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  • Dec 18, 2014
  • Updated: 5:55am
My Take
PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 08 April, 2013, 2:04am

Young should take real risks before fighting for democracy

You know why we are always rounding on our government? It's not just because it's undemocratic. Are we unfree and oppressed? Actually, we are freer and richer than most full democracies.

What we don't admit is that we have come to rely too much on the government and expect it to fix every problem for us, right now! That's the sense of entitlement and instant gratification of the iPhone-pan-democrat generation. Parallel traders blocking MTR traffic? It's the government's fault. The economy taking a dive? Also its fault. No milk powder? The government's fault. Flats too expensive … Everything is the stupid government's responsibility and therefore it can never do anything right. The more activist a government, the less likely it will get many things right.

This, by the way, is why many people have this terribly mistaken notion that the colonial Brits were superior governors. I lived at least 25 years of my life under their rule and I can tell you they weren't all that competent. They were, however, far less responsive to popular demands. When your subjects had low expectations of you, it was easy to meet them.

Native entrepreneurship was what made Hong Kong great. Its disappearance will spell the city's decline. Because you couldn't rely on the Brits to take care of you, you had to take care of yourself. That was how Hong Kong got rich - entrepreneurship - thanks to enterprising Chinese, Indian, Pakistani and other risk-takers.

Today, the word entrepreneurship is conspicuously absent in public discourse. In its place, democracy has taken hold. Yet I don't know any truly freer person than an entrepreneur, who is in control of her own destiny.

Instead of starting a business in a burst of entrepreneurial creativity à la Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg, many young people either want to join big corporations or the government on a fast track to senior management - and/or protest for democracy. What they all have in common is that they take no risk. Our young democracy fighters may fantasise about June 4, but no PLA tanks will ever run over them.

Young man and woman, take real risks! Travel the world, read widely, strike out on your own, start a business (in another city with low rents). Then come back and fight for democracy.

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johnyuan
“Young man and woman, take real risks! Travel the world, read widely, strike out on your own, start a business (in another city with low rents). Then come back and fight for democracy.’ I almost have nothing to add when Alex wrote his conclusion that took those words or rather my thought out of my mouth. I will add a deadly comment to it that there is no space in Hong Kong for you to take risk -- not at the second highest rent in the world; not in your shoebox flat and not in the complete occupied of opportunity by the existing order of the privileged. Last but not the least, parents should let go of their children. Free them from the bondage of the property culture in Hong Kong.
hard times !
I wonder whether this guy 'whymak' has really learnt something useful (if he/she was lucky enough) at his/her school and whether he/she had worked hard in his/her schooldays since he/she just cannot express himself/herself in a simple and clear way here in this public forum at all ! This Alex Lo prefers to mislead the ignorant youngsters by saying that they enjoy much freer life than those countries which enjoying full democracy.He implies that our pursuit of a full democracy is meaningless or useless since a true democracy can never bring more freedom or richness to us. Just look at our compatriots across the border, do they have got any freedoms of speech or press as us ? Of course not ! Are most of them struggling for a democratic political system ? No again.Yet more and mroe of them are now enjoying a freer(compared with decades ago) and much richer lives than before ! This is what Alex Lo is going to tell our youngsters---or misleading them by his evasive words !
wwong888
why is fighting for democracy and better governance incompatible with taking personal career risks? if you look at successful business people outside of hong kong, they are also the ones with strong views on governance? hong kong businessmen don't speak up because the current crony capitalism is in their interest. alex, you are a horrible commentator. what risks have you taken? you write a crummy column for the scmp. you are sucking up to the current adminstration and china on orders from the scmp owner who has significant business interests in china. you are the coward.
whymak
To Democratic Airheads
First you have to define democracy. Other than the universal suffrage dogma, what else can you say about democracy? Okay, you say something like human rights. Again, I will ask you to define it.
Then you give me nothing but irrelevant counter examples why China is such a bad country because it jails reporters and lawyers. I concede your information is factual. So I take your definition, the rate of incarceration - the rate of prison population per 100,000 - to be the empirical evidence.
Sorry to tell you, the US puts 6 times as many people in penal colony as PRC. If we carry this Socratic dialogue further, you will end up agreeing the country with lesser violation of human rights is the more democratic.
Some dumb readers in this column may not realize being jailed is the most definitive measure for violation of human rights. I grant you that democratic airheads with nothing but dogmas and jargons have no measurements.
So if social malcontents are on the wrong side of the law, who says their human rights should be less than a lawyer or reporter? Isn't this a tenet of democracy too?
Society is never perfect. Some will be jailed due to noncompliance with the law. A quantifiable prison population is as good a measure for human rights and democracy.
I am here not to defend China but to point out how hubristic brainwashed Hong Kongers are.
I learned critical inquiry at HK SJC. Reductio ad absurdum is useful in throwing out false hypotheses.
wwong888
if this is the logic they taught you at SJC, then I definitely need to look into other schools for my children... this example of using the rate of incarceration to define level of democracy and human rights should be used as textbook example of inductive reasoning gone horribly wrong... well in this case more specifically how a commie airhead can apply inductive reasoning to conclude a human born in china today has greater freedoms than one born in the united states... sorry mate, try again...
tennisboy
Hong Kong's youth have chosen to protest because it is the easier way to gain attention upon themselves (and a brief moment of fame). All they have to do is grab a sign, lie on the streets, hurl obscenities to officials; and there is a good chance they will be shown on the nightly news. This gives them a sense of importance in society; a sense of accomplishment. On the other hand, if you start a business, you actually have to use your brain and rely on yourself and your finances-- there is no one to blame but yourself for any failures. The youth of today will rather choose the easier way to gain fame.
whymak
Amen! Let me ask those academics, pseudo intellectuals and media airheads who persist in proselytizing democracy -- to me one of the most difficult philosophical topics, if they have the ability to think clearly and logically like an intelligent 8th grader, who has little trouble in writing a simple computer program that works.
If they can't, these social malcontents and discontents are capable of one thing only: vaporware.
My advice to these soreheads in addition to yours is go back to school and learn something useful.
johnyuan
Giving a reality one can make a good living as a property agent, why wouldn’t you be one? Some years ago when I returned to Hong Kong, I got my flat through a property agent who worked most efficiently. No, I was taken aback when I learned she graduated from one of the best schools in Hong Kong. While I fault my feeling for being judgmental, there must be something I missed on the reality of Hong Kong: a graduate from an elite school working as a property agent whose challenge was just to get me a flat.
I continue since then to tell everyone in Hong Kong that you may deserve more what reality in Hong Kong can give you.
In a swap of today’s My Take, I would support Alex and ask the young in Hong Kong to accept risk as part of growing up.
anotherguy
I understand such an article definitely stirred some feathers but putting aside some personal judgment for the article, there is still some truths from it. Young has to think beyond HK sometimes if there are some limitations that are definitely to difficult to overcome in a short time. Like it or not, the problems we face today will not disappear in a short span of time. Meanwhile, if the young wants to make things happen, they need to look elsewhere rather than wasting themselves away just because circumstances don't go their ways. Can't they go to Singapore or China or India and return home to contribute when they strike it rich and have more ammunition to make a difference. Or are they only counting on HK to please their ways? Even US is going to disappoint many youngsters of this generation no matter how great they have been in the past. Face it, sometimes, bad times happen and a lost century is nothing in the scheme of human history.
wwong888
also alex. do some research before you write stuff. note that other markets are having issues with milk powder. i know its hard. drivel is easier. we are here to help.
The FT reports, “Supermarkets as far afield as the UK and Australia have been forced to ration infant formula due to rampant Chinese demand for foreign-made baby milk. The frenzy for formula has forced governments to step in. Hong Kong, where shelves of formula are regularly cleared by mainland visitors, introduced curbs at customs in February. This month UK supermarket chains such as Wm Morrison, J Sainsbury, Asda and Tesco began restricting customers to two tins of infant milk formula at a time. “This is being done at the request of the manufacturers, who believe it’s possible that some organised groups of customers are buying up products in unusually large quantities for export,” said Richard Dodd,of the British Retail Consortium. Jo Newbould, spokesperson for the Asda supermarket chain, said, “We have been asked to implement a two per customer cap by our baby milk supplier, Danone.”

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