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  • Apr 17, 2014
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CommentInsight & Opinion

Save Hong Kong from its naysayers

Mak Kwok Wah says we need to banish the pettiness and negativism pervading politics and the media, lest Hong Kong lose its dynamism

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 August, 2013, 3:36am

On the occasion of Singapore's national day this month, its prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, delivered a speech containing some important points that Hong Kong's critics should seriously reflect upon.

Lee drew attention to the achievements of the island republic, such as its efficient infrastructure and social welfare policy. But what might have escaped the attention of many was his call for gotong royong - a Malay expression describing how a community mobilises itself to help one another.

Lee cited Singapore's Malay community as setting a good example to follow with their strong spirit of gotong royong. In particular, he pointed out how members of Malay-Muslim organisations are joining hands to meet socio-economic needs. This has brought significant improvements to Malay Singaporeans, including higher incomes and better education standards, and Lee urged other community groups to follow suit and do more to help one another.

Like Singapore, Hong Kong is a shining example of a small territory with minimal natural assets that by sheer determination - plus the ingenuity of its leaders and the sweat of its masses - wrought an economic miracle. To accomplish this "Hong Kong miracle", we bonded and worked together to get the job done, however tough it was.

We should ask ourselves whether we are happy with our life, and whether we are enjoying far better conditions than did our parents or grandparents when they migrated here from the mainland. For most, the answer to these questions would be "yes".

Though some of us seem to forget, Hong Kong has a lot going for it: a sizeable public housing scheme, an independent and effective judicial system, and low tax rates.

There are still job opportunities in Hong Kong, plus cheap and efficient public transport, a fairly high standard of living for most, not to mention its safe environment, one of safest in the world.

Despite all these advantages, a dark cloud of negativism grips the minds of a highly vocal minority. To some of these naysayers, our government is blind or at least short-sighted. Sadly, most of this negative criticism occurs in the Legislative Council, where some radical members are always trying to obstruct government proposals and turn the minds of the community against its every decision.

Hong Kong has always prided itself on its get-up-and-go spirit. So what has dragged these naysayers into such despondency and despair?

If the qualities of gotong royong sound familiar to some old Hongkongers, it is because we used to have them in spades - our renowned "can-do" attitude, plus the communal spirit that marked our parents' and grandparents' generations. This is also why some media commentators lament that Hong Kong has lost its mojo.

If we are to recapture it, we must first eliminate the poison of petty politics and negativism pervading society. Let's see a change in Legco from the present atmosphere of obstructionism to one where everyone pulls together to get things done. And let's not allow some of the media, which abides by the adage of "bad news is good news", to dictate the tone of our conversation.

Mak Kwok Wah is a public affairs consultant

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sienna.lai
Worrying over 'negativity' is the worst form of avoidance.
kctony
Is this for real? When a voice of discontent is unheard, that voice would escalate. How difficult is it for a public affairs consultant to understand?
The article is already biased. There were 2 factors to Hong Kong Miracle. (1) The Hong Kong people's spirit and (2) the British political umbrella. The Miracle worked only when both existed. It is hypocritical to claim (1) only as the success factor. Had not been there a colonial border, I would have perished as a weakling during the "The Great Leap Forward" instead of a healthy golfer today. My cousin lived north of the border. He would have been 61 today.
Why is the government so hell bent to suppress wages and not the real culprit, rent? The minimum wage applies only to the very low income earners. How is that going to affect the economy? Yet, rent could raise by 300% driving restaurants upstairs making way for luxury chains. When Li Ka Shing spoke those famous words, "Let's all step on it" to tell Hongkongers to work harder, the dockers at his terminals were still earning 1997 wages. I agree that Hong Kong is a welfare state to the tycoons.
In June, I videoed a man collecting leftovers in Cafe de Coral with a plastic bag. His proficiency told me he's been doing that for some time. Just this Tuesday, a woman simply sat down and ate someone's leftover. This is CDC Admiralty. And we proudly call HK a world city.
There are plenty educated 35-40 year olds planning to emigrate. That speaks a lot.
reubenm
Save Hong Kong from is naysayers? Is criticism really that much of a threat? Is Hong Kong so devastated that it needs rescuing from fault-finders and curmudgeons?
Perhaps the author is correct: the negativism of the "highly vocal minority" should be quashed. Perhaps those in positions of influence should only sing the praises of the government, lest they be deliberately bankrupted by the chief executive. Like in Singapore
caractacus
Gotong royong is all very well, but when a gang of self interested tycoons has a stanglehold over the economy and the administration is increasingly untalented and corrupt, what can the people do?
XYZ
The author overlooks the fact that the strong spirit of "gotong royong" is alive and well amongst Hong Kong's tycoons and the HKSAR government.
impala
Overall, I am no fan of Singapore and the often heavy handed tactics of its government.

But I have to admit to be favourably impressed when looking at what (I believe) is the speech in question:
****www.pmo.gov.sg/content/pmosite/mediacentre/speechesninterviews/primeminister/2013/August/prime-minister-lee-hsien-loong-s-national-day-rally-2013--speech.html

For instance, can you even begin to imagine Hong Kong's CE giving a 2-hour speech (in English!) that is not filled with wild projections and vague promises but with actual concrete facts and policies?

I am sure the PM had a lot of help in writing this speech, but the level of detail with which he goes into things like housing affordability, health care and education is impressive.

I am also sure there is a lot of flaws to be found with it all. But yet, you get a strong sense that the Singapore PM and his government are really looking at stuff like 'Can people afford decent housing?' and 'Are schools accessible and fulfilling the needs of students?' And if not, then here is what we will do about it. Now, and not in 2028.

In Hong Kong by contrast, you cannot help but feel that our government is trying to dodge its responsibilities, shy away from anything that is not 'business as usual,' is working hard to protect vested (business) interests while busy denying 'allegations' of corruption and cronyism, and the top priority is not 'keep the people of Hong Kong happy' but 'keep the people in Beijing happy.'
Another Social Critics...
Present scenarios had Never been existed Before since 07/1997, thru different Terms of Governance...
Seeing its Rank of Popularity - Negative Point!!!
It's that Evil Nature that 'CY' & Its Related Group Exposed...
Abuses of Power, Manipulation for Self-Profiteering, Triad Involvement, Informers be Needed for coming Prosecution of Corruption...More are Coming...
That attracts present & coming More Opponents Voluntarily, Not Employed For like its Supporters...
In its Aims for Betterment of HK's Future...
Seeing that 'CY' & Its Related Group is Trying their very Best, to utilize the Shortest Time, to Sell-Off or Squeeze the Most Treasured out from HK's, especially in its Land & its Development...
IMMEDIATE DISMISSAL of that 'CY' & Its Related Group to lessen its Further Damages to HK's...
Central China Government should do HK's another Great Achievement...BRAVO!!!
lamlm38
hows the HK gov supposed to perform its balls tight to their hands? hv to get ok from it's masters in BJ to perform each task..
Giwaffe
It is more about what to do than of doing it. Getting things done misses the whole point of whether that thing ought to be done or not.
XYZ
Utter rot.
boondeiyan
No surprises here: 38 years as a government flack shines through. By all means let SCMP give this line of argument its time in the spotlight. But how about striking a blow for intellectual discourse by letting some "radical" Legco member e.g. KH Leung have a chance at making a counterpoint? Surely we don't need to pay a newspaper to bring us information that the government provides for free; at least for another 34 years...
Dai Muff
The people are not the problem. The fact that their aspirations and hopes are constantly being diminished is. And no we do not need our media to all sing from the same government-praising choir-sheet as Singapore's media does.
johnyuan
‘Though some of us seem to forget, Hong Kong has a lot going for it: a sizeable public housing scheme, an independent and effective judicial system, and low tax rates’. Hardly. Conditions have changed. The population in Hong Kong’s developing stage was only a fraction of the current. The ‘nagativism’ is a response to those early social measures which retrograded to become mirages for the majority. Their values only hold true in history. Only reform, socially and politically can make Hong Kong vibrant again since it still inhabited by the same industrial and intelligent people albeit a lot more. It is really a disservice to Hong Kong for this writer to blame others but not seeing one’s own fault for his claim of 'nagativism'. Especially without pointing out that new environment requires new measure. Stop singing the past glory like a broken record repeating endlessly. Reform and move on.
……
Hong Kong without reform will become irrelevant to the rest of the world including mainland China. Hong Kong doesn’t even have a casino to stay relevant?

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