Calling for trust in these tough times

As April showers bring a flood of woes, what's needed is a simple thing called faith

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 12 April, 2013, 4:29am

April started off on a bad note: on the first Friday of the month, the Hang Seng Index plunged some 600 points, triggered by news in East China that six people had died from the H7N9 bird flu.

A decade ago, the severe acute respiratory syndrome hit the city months after it struck the mainland in late 2002. The deadly virus claimed the lives of 299 people in Hong Kong.

In light of the bird flu spreading on the mainland, people in the city cannot help but wonder whether Hong Kong - which is as close to the mainland as the lips are to the teeth - could possibly hope to be spared from it.

Media images of countless pig carcasses drifting down the Huangpu River to Shanghai did nothing to help calm our nerves.

And what of our port dispute with the striking dockers? We are living in anxious times indeed.

Officials advise us against panic. And we trust our officials, because they have a track record of transparency and being on top of their jobs.

Ah, but trust is a fragile thing; one slip … and this fragile trust will be gone forever.

The picture is not any rosier on the political front.

China's new leadership recently announced the Chinese dream of economic prosperity: rejuvenation of the nation and happiness for the people. All this sounds good. But what of Hong Kong? What about our dream?

Under the "one country, two systems" principle, many Hongkongers dream of electing our chief executive through universal suffrage.

But just how to ensure Hong Kong people get the right in 2017 to nominate, stand for and vote for our leader has been a point of debate of late.

Paradoxically, this call for full democracy is also a call for China to trust Hongkongers to fulfil the Basic Law requirements as well as the dictum to "love China and love Hong Kong".

Some democrats champion civil disobedience by occupying Central until their demands are met, in the Henry Thoreau belief that government policies overruling people's consciences should be disobeyed.

But politics is, rather than an exact science, more an art of the possible.

So all things are possible. And Hong Kong people are not stupid.

If we were, to put it in goode olde Chaucerian language, "I trow we wilt have it cometh and cop a righte olde kicke in the teethe!"


Elizabeth Wong Chien Chi-lien was secretary for health and welfare from 1990 to 1994 and a legislative councillor from 1995 to 1997