A lawmaker's parochial attitude

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 November, 2012, 2:45am

In her Letter to Hong Kong, on October 28, on Radio 3, Starry Lee Wai-king of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, a member of the Executive Council, droned on about the political landscape.

She said that what worried her most was how "the current political environment" had "stifled the voice of reason and pragmatism in public discourse. Every disagreement made personal, every difference made antagonistic, every politic replaced with posturing - if we continue in this way, we are indeed leading Hong Kong down a deeply troubled path".

She said the "war cries that win by might and volume have usurped our freedom of speech, expression and choice".

This is an excellent example of the justification of hypocrisy in the guise of rational discourse. The freedom of expression of many Hong Kong residents has been steadily eroded since the handover through the machinations of parties like the DAB using every tool available to them to reduce our advisory bodies, district councils and now the Legislative Council, via a concerted campaign to exclude any diverging opinions from the chairmanship of the various panels, to compliant rubber stamps.

Of course there is pent-up frustration and anger mounting in the community as, gradually, channels that were once open to diverse opinions are emasculated. Pragmatists dislike things that do not work well and value the concept of utility. This stifles creativity and thinking outside the box and the effect on the community of policies that are based on functionality and conservatism are eroding the influence of those independent and inventive citizens whose input is essential in an era of fast- moving technology and fickle markets.

Ms Lee is proud of her campaign slogan, "Rise above conflicts. Politics need not be confrontational. Confrontational politics do not solve our problems." But how can we have rational discussion when the opinions of so many are overruled, while the preferences of a particular sector of the community that believes it always knows best are rammed through? Those expressing conflicting opinions should not be called confrontational. The validity of their solutions should be considered.

Ms Lee's vow, "to bring into the council the diverse voices I've come in contact with … in my work at the district level" gives the unfortunate impression that housing estate politics are to set the agenda. With such a parochial vision at the top, it is no wonder Hong Kong is falling behind regional competitors in so many sectors.

Martin Brinkley, Ma Wan