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  • Dec 27, 2014
  • Updated: 11:43pm
My Take
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 November, 2013, 3:29am
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 November, 2013, 3:29am

Show solidarity, not indifference, in face of Philippine typhoon disaster

What is wrong with our leaders in Hong Kong and Beijing? If there is ever a time when realpolitik, cold diplomacy and humanitarianism converge, it is now.

Large swathes of the Philippines have been devastated by one of the worst storms on record. The country needs help - and fast. But while other countries are rushing in aid and personnel, Hong Kong is threatening economic sanctions over the hostage killings three years ago.

Can we pause for a moment to think about how that looks to the rest of the world? When asked about it yesterday, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said the government has no plan to extend the one-month ultimatum before imposing sanctions. So the last person in the administration who is reputed to have common sense has lost her head too.

Lam and her boss, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, should come out now and declare the ultimatum has been cancelled. No sanctions will be considered, not now, not ever. That is not only the right thing to do; it is the only thing to do. They should then rush the HK$40 million in disaster relief funding through the Legislative Council for approval tomorrow and work with NGOs to bring the money and aid to the Philippines as quickly as possible.

Why? Because 160,000 of our expatriate residents are Filipinos; we should show solidarity, not indifference. We should show the world we are not all racist chauvinists like the pan-democrat People Power's Albert Chan Wai-yip, who spearheaded the sanctions initiative in Legco.

Where is Beijing in all this? Americans are dispatching an aircraft carrier and four battleships to help with relief efforts. Britain has sent a warship. Japan is sending troops. Together, they have pledged at least US$30 million, though the UN estimates the Philippines will need about US$301 million. Beijing has reportedly promised US$100,000.

Presumably that's only a preliminary sum, because if it is not, you might as well not bother. I know the party bosses have been preoccupied by the all-important third plenum to introduce reform. But that's no excuse.

At current growth rates, the Philippines will not stay poor forever. When it becomes the new tiger economy, you want to make friends, not foes.

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This article is now closed to comments

snelderj
this really saddens me, we have fallen so much in the last decade since I was last truly proud of HK during SARS. Since when we lost all sense and some very basic qualities to be human?
chaz_hen
True. It really seems HK is sliding backwards in the region in so many ways, which is truly sad. Young people feel their future is bleak, the old feel they've been sold out and with ten years of indecisive non-leaders that kow-tow to a handful of billionaires, the people have been cheated.
mdap
I have long supported this administration, but on this issue, they are wrong. The bus issue and the typhoon are related in so much as they deal with tragic loss; families are hurting on both sides of this situation and our Government should show leadership and compassion, acts that define a world class city; it is a time for humanity to heal the hurt; it is time for Hong Kong to show its character, not continue with its petulant demands for a respect it has not earnt.
charlesyeomans
Alex, a lot of things you write I do not agree with, but here you are spot on.
This is totally disgusting behaviour. Under the current "Leadership" (if you can call it that) HK is losing its way.
The Lunatics are running the asylum......
dan.backus
I am an American living in the Philippines. What surprises me is how the ordinary Filipino here views the intended insult from the Chinese government's offer of $100,000 dollars for relief. They just shrug it off and say that is how the Chinese people are. No anger on their part. Just acceptance. Compassion is tied to politics. China aspires to be a world leader. They have to do better. When Cuba was hit by a hurricane and US did not help. I was ashamed our government did not do more. Now it is the turn of the Chinese people to be ashamed of their government..
whatever
This is a government more worried about the world's negative perceptions of Hong Kong caused by a subpar football pitch than they are about the negative perceptions of their Philippine's "revenge" policy they are pursuing. When is a reporter going to be brave enough to to ask them the simple question: "Are you aware how pathetic this sounds to the rest of the world?"
321manu
Agree with Mr. Lo here. The HK government looks, at best, incredibly petty; and it won't be a stretch to consider them heartless, inhumane, and shameful.
rpasea
Shameful. That's all I can say about our leaders.
caractacus
Ignorant, racist bigots like you should not be given a platform in these pages.
dascaldasf
AL, I agree with you. I leave politics and economics out. It is heart breaking to see such devastation by natural disaster. We have compassion and it should be reflected by supporting humanitarian aid. We should even do more now as the people in those devastated areas are crying out ever louder for assistance.

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