Unite to shape Hong Kong’s future

It’s been 20 years since the city’s return to Chinese sovereignty and despite a number of teething problems, the outlook remains bright so long as we are united

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 June, 2017, 5:46am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 June, 2017, 5:52am

As we weigh Hong Kong’s achievements and deficiencies over the past 20 years, one issue warrants particularly reflection. While there has been no shortage of blueprints to bring the city forward, development is still sadly two steps forward, one step back. This owes much to the lack of support in turning the ideas into reality. Unless we can overcome the obstacle and move in unity, the city risks losing out further in the years ahead.

The plight has been put into perspective in an SCMP conference to mark the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the special administrative region. Attended by three chief executives and 100-plus distinguished speakers and opinion leaders on Monday, the event sought to address a wide range of challenges facing the city, such as fostering new economic growth and alleviating poverty.

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Indeed, the incumbent and previous governments were long aware of the challenges and have been pushing some of the ideas. For instance, a policy bureau has been set up to boost innovation and technological development. The governments led by Tung Chee-hwa and Leung Chun-ying also invested in education and made much effort in providing affordable housing. But there is still much to do. Adding to the problems are strong vested interests among businesses and individuals as well as intensifying political bickering in recent years. Many of the legislative and funding proposals are still languishing in the legislature for approval.

The replacement of Leung by Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor on July 1 opens the window for change. While full political reconciliation cannot be achieved overnight, it is hoped that Lam can narrow the divide in society. This will not be easy. But Lam must spare no effort in reaching out to different sectors in society. Thankfully, the political tension has somewhat eased after she clinched the top post in March. She told the conference that she would uphold the city’s core values. This gives her the footing to cultivate a more cordial working relationship with the pan-democrats in the coming five years.

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It is also incumbent upon the pan-democrats to make efforts to improve cooperation with the government. While the legislature has a role to play in governance, the city’s development is being held back by filibustering by a few pro-democracy lawmakers. The leadership change provides a good opportunity for them to drop the tiring antics.

Hong Kong’s future remains optimistic under the “one country, two systems” governing principle. As the forum heard, it is upon us to shape the headline for the city’s future. As long as we stay united and move forward, the best is yet to come.