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  • Sep 2, 2014
  • Updated: 7:39pm
My Take
PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 03 June, 2013, 2:32am

'Beautiful souls' blinkered to reality

A distinctive Hong Kong identity politics is emerging. As it is still developing, it is hard to pin down and put your finger on. But one important aspect seems clear enough: demonise China, idealise Hong Kong. Yes, yes, I know. How can that be when the city is part of China? But it's that very inclusion since the handover that is being called into question.

At its most obvious, this involves accentuating the negatives on the mainland while ignoring the positives. And doing the reverse when it comes to Hong Kong. So there is this uncritical celebration of local culture and so-called core values, which can mean anything depending on who you ask: Cantonese language, rule of law, open economy, tolerance (unless you are a Filipino maid or a South Asian) and what not.

Hong Kong is the fountain of goodness, our young activists think. Across the border, it's bad land. And it is leaking badness and contaminating Hong Kong with corrupt officials and "locust" visitors, sometimes literally, like urinating and defecating in public, or spreading a potential flu pandemic.

An expat critic of mine thinks Hongkongers have a bad - and accurate - impression of the mainland because of hands-on experience - by making regular visits there. This elderly retiree has obviously not kept up with current surveys such as those by his former Baptist University colleague Michael DeGolyer, who finds that younger people - incidentally those most prone to identity politics - rarely visit the mainland, if at all. They do, however, read the corrosive, rabble-rousing Apple Daily.

For these people, the state power of the central government is incurably corrupt and dirty. Hong Kong is that little island of light and goodness constantly under threat from that monster. I am not defending Beijing, but we are getting a tad paranoid. You try governing 1.3 billion people with dozens of different ethnic groups. Or at least imagine the immense challenge that it entails.

"Beautiful souls", Hegel calls them, those good and pure critics of power, idealists who play an easy moralistic game. They represent a type that recurs in politics everywhere. For the Hong Kong variety, the Chinese state is pure evil. The mainland is another country; we certainly don't want to dirty ourselves with it.


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This article is now closed to comments

Jve: Just one last word about common sense. If you are a task worker, your life is simple. Let's say your only skill is skinning cats and that's all you're asked to perform, everything will be hunky dory. But if you're a manager in charge of 5 department managers - each of whom heads a distinct functional area, relationships become complex. There are interfaces among your subordinates, who in turn have workers under their charge. When this layer within a hierarchy multiplies 4 or 5 times, we are talking about a huge corporation. A low level worker usually doesn't have the foggiest of functional relationships.
A country is a lot like that. You take away the management structure, the firm is worth nothing.
In a democracy, many blockheads are deluded into a belief of being empowered to govern.
America is a great nation. People go to the polls to pick their leaders. While elections satisfy the delusion of freedom of choice, there are unspoken ironclad constraints that things people ask for could never be realized. Yet politicians time and again give false promises but never deliver. Regular elections are a waste of management resources. Yes, they satisfy emotional and spiritual needs. But they also obstruct governance.
Considering its population size, America is a great success.
America had better governance at her inception because the Founding Fathers' great intellects were subject to fewer constraints. There was less power sharing then both in substance and rhetoric.
Reader whymak, for all his rhetoric, is still missing the overarching point.

Governance by an unelected, unaccountable, intransparent and impenetrable elite group of self-proclaimed leaders who make their own rules, censor the media and curtail all kinds of other freedom to maintain their grip on power is not governance, it is oppression.
What relevance does your comment have to what I said above? In a college debate, you will be booted out of the debate team. BTW, did you have a college education?
the sun also rises
who want to dirty himself/herself with a pure evil nation like the PRC which you and your alike vigorously embrace and support in words and ...Shame on you and your words uttered here to mislead the readers and writers as well ! Shame on you indeed ! I advise you go across the border at Lowu to teach your political science there and stop misleading our innocent youngsters for your sake---your soul not to be purged after you leave this world to meet Chairman Mao who maybe awaiting your arrival !
Jve: Should I argue with someone who can't do middle school algebra? BTW, did you ever reach HK School Certificate level?
Start with the first person out of one billion, there are 999,999,999 links. Onto the next person, who is already linked with the first, there are 999,999,998 links and so on. Add up these numbers, 999,999,999+999,999,998+...+3+2+1=499,999,999,500,000,000.
All 14-year olds at St. Joseph's College could do my posted problem in the algebra class!
Students with low IQ often have trouble solving "word" problems. It’s due to them not being able to translate a language problem into a mathematical one. Why the need for translation? Because doing so allows one to reason a complex language problem – provided it’s “quantitatively” reducible – to a successful conclusion with mathematical tools. Of course, math proofs are the only gold standard of “TRUTH.”
Your subsequent arguments are totally irrelevant because you fail to understand my statements and how I framed a relevant question.
I use a simple model of identical links, which highlights the difficulty in governing a billion people. Real life complicates things by more than one kind of links. To overcome the intractable large number constraint – the need to more or less satisfy the population, creative alternative governance instead of Democracy theology is the only way.
Democracy mob's ignorance is enemy to all good governments for the people. Have a good June 4 chanting 平反六四 slogans with other morons.
Reader whymak seems to make the curious assumption everybody in China knows each other. Would he care to elaborate on his basis for this?

His 'model' is a great example of a GIGO system.

Also, he confuses scale with complexity. I suppose he would also argue that a chicken factory with lots of chickens is much harder to govern than a small-scale farm with just a dozen of them. Unless of course you impose authoritarian rule with no freedom. Oh hang on...
the sun also rises
I am sorry to say,your so-called English has never reahed our School Cert.(which was abandoned a year ago)level ,not to say our Diploma of Secondary Education level which you can never achieve.Why not take the advice of our beloved contributor here:pflim040 and go home-----the Mainland to brush up your English before returning here to 'teach' other writers here about your so-called theory or political science or even business management.You are nothing but a short-time teacher and a self-proclaimed scientist only ! Right ? Go home right away.The witch-hunter is after you and you only !
the sun also rises
our youngsters are right in thinking that their
beloved Hong Kong is a fountain of goodness.
While across the border, it is bad land polluted
by autocratic rule and rampant with corruption
and pollution as well.
Speaking Cantonese instead of so-called phutonghua (or Mandarin)
rule of law, civilized manners and cleanliness plus
pursuit of democracy.
Safeguard and practise all types of freedoms;speech,press,
religion,marches, gatherings and ...
Is our beloved Hong Kong a rosaryhill in the eyes of our activists ?
Of course it is !
And so is it in the eyes of most youngsters here
except those so-called Youth of the DAB represented by
that shameless Chow Ho-ting who dared not
emerge in the latest City Forum debating on June 4th.
Shame on these slave-servants of the autocratic regime.
Shame on them !
See you all tonight at Victoria Park
let us pray for the rest of the souls of the killed
on June 4 early hours in 1989
near Tiananmen Square and Chang An Avenue.
See you tonight !
Don't miss it.
Okay ?
Reader Sunny: Allow me to point out why your argument is ideological wrongheaded and deficient in logic.
You refute Mr. Lo's 1.3 billion "level of difficulty" while launching into mindless clichés of undefined morality, etiquette, etc.
Each kind of freedom comes with constraints. Speech freedom conflicts with others like property rights, education freedoms, etc. Rules must exist to avoid anarchy. Thus authority and responsibility take on different meanings when the scale changes. A reduction of this macro statement to math is as follows.
Among 3 distinct objects, there exist 3 direct links or relations. A relation between two people creates a rule for engagement, or constraint. From 100 objects, there spring 4,950, not 100, constraints. For one billion, the answer is 499,999,999,500,000,000. Is this number of relationships manageable? Now you have to admit giving every one EQUAL freedom without imposing an astronomical number of constraints has to be nonsense. Is Mr. Lo right?
If a nation has 10 times the population of another, it is actually doing a good job if ceteris paribus, its people are only 1/10th as free.
That's why America is such a great nation because its people, with some qualifiers, are just as "free" as countries with only a few million.
The only way I know how to measure human rights violation is not by he-said-she-said anecdotes but by rate of incarceration. China imprisons only 1/6th as often as the US per 100,000. What does this tell you?
Whymak, first of all, you can't count. A billion has nine zeros. Using two hands, you should be able to just about manage to count that far by using your fingers. Let me know if you need help on that too. Multiply it by 4,950, and you run out of fingers, but you certainly still don't get anywhere near the galactic scale you arrived at. But let's assume you were speaking figuratively.

Secondly, and much more importantly, your argument is complete rubbish. I am perplexed that anyone who does appear to have basic literacy skills (I'll give you that much) is able to actually believe this. Where could have possibly found this strange idea that the size of a country (or rather: its population) must be inversely correlated to the degree of freedom its citizens can enjoy? Do you have any empirical proof for this? Or even just a half-plausible theory that could possibly link these two variables?

Is North Korea better suited to allow freedom for its 25m people than South Korea with double the population? Should the 80m German citizens enjoy only 1/10th of the freedom their 8m Austrian neighbours have? And the elephant in the room - how come that the 1.2bn people in India, while certainly still facing many challenges, can enjoy a free press, a democratically elected government and full freedom of religion, while no-one in China can? And all that in a country of which the ethnic diversity makes China's 8% non-Han, geographically very contained minorities seem like child's play.




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