Sudden introduction of mainland values in Hong Kong would be unwise

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 November, 2017, 4:38pm
UPDATED : Friday, 17 November, 2017, 8:35pm

Ever since 1997, when Hong Kong reverted to China, our citizens have struggled with sharp differences in politics, ethics and culture between ourselves and the motherland.

The Basic Law provides some assurances since, apart from defence and foreign affairs, we can manage our affairs.

The Basic Law is valid for 50 years. Why not 25 or 40? I believe the reason is linked to psychology. Most people cannot accept sudden change, especially on serious matters. Changes of government are traumatic, with winners and losers. Conflict leaves bitterness and mistrust.

Fifty years gives us more time to plan and eventually accept changes. The elderly will not live long enough to be seriously affected and the young will adjust more readily.

For the above reasons, Beijing and Hong Kong officials must be cautious about suddenly introducing controls linked to mainland values or laws.

In 2047, we will follow mainland procedures. Until then, let’s avoid name-calling

Rash actions are counterproductive. and they should respect the time frame of the Basic Law, as time is on Beijing’s side.

It is especially odious for Beijing’s supporters in Hong Kong to label local complaints as “unpatriotic”. This is a cheap and cowardly way of dealing with opponents. Anyone who knows Chinese or Western history learns that the most admired and patriotic heroes of a nation were those who denounced abuses and corruption in high places. It is not “patriotic” to condone or welcome overcentralisation of power, nor the use of military force and controlled courts to eliminate reformers.

Was it patriotic for US southerners in 1861 to prefer having slaves rather than human dignity?

Were imperial court eunuchs serving Manchu lords more patriotic than the common Han people?

Patriotism means love of one’s countrymen, love of living people – not love of wealth or dead real estate. It does not worship ideology or power, or send men to die for remote atolls or barren outposts. Symbols such as flags and songs are not more sacred, more precious, than life and dignity.

True patriots are those who sacrifice their time, energy, money and even life to elevate their compatriots and their motherland, not some political group, military men or moneymaking scheme.

In 2047, we will follow mainland procedures. Until then, let’s avoid name-calling and be genuine patriots, working together in mutual respect to enhance social harmony, human dignity, a healthy environment and shared prosperity.

J. Geitner, Sham Shui Po