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  • Sep 17, 2014
  • Updated: 10:35pm
CommentInsight & Opinion

Has Hong Kong lost its mind?

Mak Kwok Wah says irrationality is threatening to destroy social fabric

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 August, 2013, 3:09am

What's on the menu for lunch in Hong Kong society today? Perhaps toxic soup, tainted meat and fruit laced with poison. The venue, of course, would match the meal - a foul and fetid atmosphere, with the conversation at every table the absolute opposite of being convivial.

The meal would end with disputes over the bill. And positively no tip.

An absurd scenario, of course, but we have become not just a divided community but a sick and angry one, boiling over with something approaching hate. Hong Kong is tearing itself apart as it sinks deeper into a self-created mire of irrationality and perversity.

Everywhere you look, listen or watch, you can find the signs not just of dissension but social disintegration … in the press, on TV and the radio, all across social media, and in everyday conversation.

What a lot of trouble we would have been spared had she been arrested for obstruction

So what are so many of us arguing about and agitating against?

The following is an incomplete list - and definitely not in an order of importance (who would be foolish enough to suggest that he or she knew that!): the astronomical prices of property and rents; keeping mainland buyers of baby powder at arm's length; encountering rude visitors on the MTR; the clamour for Hong Kong to be granted democracy; musical chairs in the corridors of government; getting a voice in the 2017 election for the chief executive; road rage and queue-jumping on the approaches to the Cross-Harbour Tunnel; the rising cost of living; the proposed landfill extension; and Lung Mei beach.

And of course we mustn't forget the case of the teacher whose behaviour towards the police has exploded into yet another burning issue dividing Hong Kong.

Since her rant was caught on video, she couldn't deny what she said and did - but at least she has apologised to the school in Fanling where she is a primary school teacher, to her pupils and to their parents.

However, she has not apologised to the people most deserving of it - the police officers she swore at.

Her rant included calling the police kung on (the public security officers on the mainland) and could be seen as apparently aimed at sowing the seeds of hatred against the People's Republic. Further, her insistence that the police explain why they had not arranged to separate the two camps at the gathering served no useful purpose. Did she really expect officers to explain to her chapter and verse their crowd-control instructions?

What a lot of trouble we would have been spared had she been arrested for obstruction. In court, she would probably have been given a slap-on-the-hand penalty and walked free with an overdue appreciation of the give-and-take norms of civility.

But, no, she got away with it, and now in today's spirit of ferment and back-stabbing, this bad-tempered incident has taken on a life of its own, embroiling our long-suffering chief executive, Leung Chun-ying.

Answering a question at a community forum recently, Leung said he was calling for a report from the education minister on what he termed "a matter of widespread public concern", which it most certainly is.

That, inevitably, led to a tide of denunciation from the naysayers. But woe betide Leung had he said it was only "a trivial matter" undeserving of top-level investigation. Would not those same critics have been aghast at his "failure" to become involved in such an important matter? Once again, it would be a case of "Mr Leung, heads we win, tails you lose".

Mak Kwok Wah is a public affairs consultant

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This article is now closed to comments

mercedes2233
I think this is a fair report. The writer was not asked to do an entire sociological /political / anthropological thesis on the subject, nor was he to provide solutions. (Who in this situation has all the answers?)
yellow_lynx_cat
If this is what we can get from a "public affairs consultant" Hong Kong is doomed......
joelchu
If you are the Mr Mak who was on the security committee, I can understand some of your comments.
But if you are a consultant, why not try to understand what people think and why?
You complain (rightly) that our political discourse is declining in quality, but don't explain why, or understand that for most, especially the grassroots, the problem revealed by Alpais Lam was not rudeness to the police, it was the failure of the police to apply fair and equal policing standards, by letting the thuggish anti Falun Gong demonstrators behave as they did.
CY has done may things that should get support. But he is unpopular. Why? Consultants should try and answer this question.
I'd suggest a lack of willingness to listen, to move things forward and to treat his opponents with respect, irrespective of their individual boorishness.
They represent a point of view, one that may be a majority, despite the deliberate insolence of the likes of Long Hair.
If you don't initiate and insist on a mutually respectful dialogue, as Occupy Central and the new anti-Occupy Central group have agreed to do, you leave a vacuum into which others will step, and which undermines your leadership role. They will think you are looking after the vested interests of the functional constituencies. So get engaged!
That is what a consultant should have told CY.
jayb
hong kong has not "lost its minds". hong kong is just too rich, too welfare covered, too comfortable. this from an "old" hongkong guy who grew up in "resettlement" housing in early 70s. back then, we were too busy going to school then head to part time jobs to pay the bills... protest rally? if i had time, i would take up one more job or go home to catch some sleep. today's gen. is just too rich, too much welfare...
tfung
People in the spotlight and the media love to complain about everything with no solution to anything...
scmpgt
The 2 most powerful groups are property developers and high government officials.
They basically exploit the HK population for a comfortable living for themselves. And they exploit every second, every minute, every day. They win, you lose.
tsuicmg
"we have become not just a divided community but a sick and angry one, boiling over with something approaching hate. Hong Kong is tearing itself apart as it sinks deeper into a self-created mire of irrationality and perversity."
Under my observation, I find our community is being divided by two peoples. One is people who speak or act for themselves. Another one is people who are asked to or paid to speak or act. The current situation is not self-created but deliberately created by someone. Who? The answer is written on the wall.
robaston
Public affairs consultant? They're paying people to write pro Beijing articles, not surprising nearly all the support for Beijing and their lackies in Hong Kong comes from people who have a direct financial benefit from doing so.
Their new big idea is to paint themselves as the people who deliver harmony and anyone upset with anything as the people who would tear apart our society in Hong Kong. The thing is if they simply just conceded and gave us what every other developed society in the world enjoys, full democracy then Hong Kong would be a much calmer, happier place.
Sugelanren
Tongzhi, This is political immaturity at work stoked by an equally immature CE. However I disagree with your comments on the Teacher. She was right to complain about Police tactics. It is not a standard police practice to put two opposing groups together. Normally they try to separate them. Why they didn't should be investigated.
walkup
The essential problem is caused by the perception that the man at the top CY Leung does not in his heart represent Hong Kong and that there is therefore a battle for HK's direction. Things will hopefully calm down when he steps down.

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