Hongkongers should unite in "the spirit of one for all, all for one" to solve the social woes facing the city, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said yesterday, recalling the selflessness the city displayed during the Sars outbreak in 2003.
A pan-democratic lawmaker quickly dismissed Leung's call for unity as "empty talk".
As the city remembers the scourge of severe acute respiratory system 10 years ago, Leung recalled in his weekly Hong Kong Letter on RTHK how medical workers risked their lives to treat patients and curb the spread of the epidemic.
"At that time, many professionals made sacrifices," he said. "We all had only one goal: to defeat the Sars virus as soon as possible. There was only one spirit: that Hongkongers as one would both enjoy the good times and endure the bad times.
"Sars showed us that even in the face of huge problems, Hong Kong can deal with danger and make things safe again, if we are united."
He drew a parallel with the Hong Kong of today.
"There are many long-unresolved social problems in Hong Kong today, but if every Hongkonger upholds the spirit of 'one for all, all for one', the city can solve its problems," he said.
"No matter what happens, we cannot abandon the spirit of unity and selfless contribution that we displayed 10 years ago," he added.
Pan-democratic lawmaker Emily Lau Wai-hing said Leung needed to make concrete suggestions.
"We want to be united to carry out universal suffrage in 2017 … Unity is not just about empty talk," said Lau, chairwoman of the Democratic Party.