True patriots should embrace reform, not fight progress

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 June, 2014, 2:50am
UPDATED : Friday, 20 June, 2014, 2:50am

The Civic Party's Ronny Tong Ka-wah made the mistake of confusing patriotism with support for the government in his remarks on the white paper released by Beijing recently. Patriotism is not synonymous with a ruling party.

Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung was also guilty of misinterpretation with his remarks on the role of judges. Judges sit firmly outside party politics and lawmaking. They interpret the gaps left by the legislative process, and their independence from the political process of law formulation creates their social value. That's why Hong Kong law is trusted.

Similar confusion characterises much of the white paper, notably in how it distinguishes between formal constitutional authority and how duties and responsibilities in day-to-day government are executed.

In Hong Kong, our government's formal authority surely arises from within the Chinese constitution. However, the Basic Law grants powers only to government here and not, even indirectly, to Beijing. There is no provision in the Basic Law, or in China's constitution, allowing the agents of mainland bodies to issue instructions in Hong Kong, unless under martial law.

The root of the confusion - on both patriotism and the government's powers - resides in the overlap between the state and party in China. Some Chinese see a problem here. Rooting out corruption and creating independent commercial and financial enterprises on the mainland are severely hampered when the party is greater than judges or the needs of commerce. That's why mainland compatriots who love the motherland also love Hong Kong, and continue to come here.

The implied threat in the white paper that Beijing could instruct Hong Kong's executive and legal bodies on how to act will not become a reality. Those who suggest the threat would or could be acted upon are likely intent on destroying the "one country, two systems" formula.

Deng Xiaoping's successful fusion of socialism and capitalism in formulating the "one country, two systems" policy has been one of China's greatest achievements since the People's Republic was founded.

I'd say those who want to unbundle Deng's carefully balanced policy, which has done so much for Hong Kong, are the unpatriotic ones. True patriots should aim to further reforms and build on the innovative policies like this that have propelled China and Hong Kong forward so much in the last 30 years, not roll them back.

Paul Serfaty, Mid-Levels