Young should take real risks before fighting for democracy | South China Morning Post
  • Tue
  • Mar 3, 2015
  • Updated: 7:48am
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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