• Sat
  • Dec 20, 2014
  • Updated: 8:25pm
My Take
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 June, 2014, 5:11am
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 June, 2014, 5:18am

Hong Kong is strong enough to survive Occupy Central

Cities are amazing and complex human constructs. They have defined civilisations and may be the greatest engines of economic growth and catalysts of innovation ever devised by people. Yet they defy simple categorisation and understanding. Urbanisation theorists and social scientists still can't agree why some cities prosper while others don't.

Nationalists may be obsessed with countries and sovereignty. Economists and policymakers continue to talk about gross domestic product and gross national product. Yet, it's the cities and people in them who produce the real goods and services. Viscerally, we belong to our own cities and neighbourhoods. It is in cities that we find the most interesting and human things happening.

We know great cities when we see them, though we don't know how to bring them about. Having a to-do list that includes a big theme park, 10 mega-infrastructure projects and an arts hub just doesn't cut it. Because cities have amazing vitality; they are hard to kill even by the most inept urban planners, and we have had plenty of those in Hong Kong.

Tokyo roared back after being firebombed to smithereens. Not a single large building was erected in Shanghai during the whole Mao Zedong era, yet today it has been resurrected as the mainland's premier finance hub. Hong Kong may not be on par with London, New York and Tokyo, but it is special. It is also robust and tough.

So you have to be sceptical when old nannies like Joseph Yam Chi-kwong, the former Monetary Authority chief, and Chow Chung-kong, the stock exchange chairman, warn that our tense political atmosphere could ruin the city through a loss of confidence by international investors and China's leaders. Really, mini-riots outside the legislature and a jam in Central led by some two-bit academics are not going to ruin us.

Any great city goes through phases of political acrimony, though. It may look difficult now, but hopefully we will emerge more politically mature as a community.

It's been said people get the government they deserve. We will, in the end, get the type of democracy we deserve. And yes, sectarian violence can kill a city and decimate its population. But I firmly believe that's not in our cultural DNA.

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This article is now closed to comments

mymak
Hong Kong is not only on a par with London, New York and Tokyo but it also surpasses them in many areas. Not least of which is social order - it is safe to go out at night and crimes against the person are relatively few compared to New York and London. It is more cosmopolitan than Tokyo - foreigners living in Tokyo generally only do so for a limited period of time, but Hong Kong is a city where many foreigners choose to spend their whole life. Hong Kong is more tolerant of others cultures and traditions - here we celebrate Christmas, Buddha's Birthday and CNY with public holidays. Hong Kong has the best and most affordable public transport than any of the other three. All of the cities suffer from poor air quality - it is the nature of large cities. Hong Kong operates in two languages. How easy is it to live and work in London or New York if you are not proficient in English? Hong Kong offers the chance of happiness and success to all.
321manu
Variations of "the sky will fall" prognostications coming from the CCP-types is just par for the course. Their only method of persuasion is fear-mongering, and the only way they know to try to discourage HKers is with predictions of doom and gloom. That such predictions don't auger with reality has never stopped them before, and won't do so in the future.
johnyuan
To 321... below,
.
I hope your prognostication is correct.
.
Mine is telling you that the rich like LKS is already divesting from Hong Kong. Should you just read more than just the Property Section, you may begin to get a sense what this city is heading. Remember, most of us are 2nd and 3rd generation refugees from China. Plenty of them bear much less grudge against the government there. Some are even doing business in mainland.
.
Expand your reality before larger reality take over you.
mymak
This line (of the CCP-types) won't work on a sophisticated population such as Hong Kongs and is just getting plain tedious.
kctony
" A loss of confidence by international investors"...It's sad that Yam could say some thing without real facts to back himself up. Hong Kong had gone through some rough times but one thing is 100% sure. International investors always came back.
ngsw
Time to turn the roads of Central to pedestrian zone. Let them sit there as long as they like. The only one that frown would be the bank taipans, who have then to walk a few minutes to their office. Actually good to them.
321manu
To johnyuan,
LKS has been divesting overseas for decades, and is no secret. That doesn't show he lacks confidence in HK on the eve of a possible Occupy, unless you are actually suggesting that he has lacked confidence in HK for decades.
I suspect many readers, and Mr. Lo himself for starters, have "divested" overseas and have an exit strategy. In fact, one of my curiosities is to see how many of the fervent CCP preachers around here will actually stick around HK when the CCP comes to town for real. It would be great if those who dream of the CCP way will actually walk the walk and experience it themselves. That's not how it always goes with those folks, sadly.
Yes, there is much more admixing of mainlanders and HKers now than a generation ago. Indeed, that is "reality" as well. But I don't see how that has any bearing on the aspect of "reality" I was alluding to, which is that the fear-mongering of CCP stooges has no relationship to it. BTW, "not bearing a grudge" against the CCP doesn't mean that even those same HKers would want to live under the CCP system. As I've noted many times before, if you want a sense of what HKers want, check out the HK Transition Project. I imagine the survey managed to capture some mainland descendants.
ppihk
Does the government really think Occupy Central is any threat to HK? In most mature democracies, this would be considered kindergarten level politics. If government officials can't deal with these baby political steps that the HK people are timidly taking, but officials feel the need to create an environment of fear, then they do not belong in public service.
mymak
The reality is that cracks are already apparent in the CCP. Starting at the very heart of the abandoned ideology, which many would gladly support were it still present, and moving on to the inexorable outcome of such capitalistic experiments whereby 2% hold 98% of the wealth. Yes, the reality is that Hong Kong will survive and we will in the future of no CCP be more than happy to move back to the mainland and enjoy the freedoms that the vast majority on this small planet already enjoy. Long Live China! (Is that not patriotic enough for you - should it be God Save the Que. Sorry, Long live the small group of comrades who don't have any money but serve the people out of the goodness of their hearts - the Party!)
admccracken
"It's been said people get the government they deserve." - though predominantly by morons with no knowledge of history.

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