Anna Pao Sohmen to Hongkongers: look on the bright side

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 28 June, 2013, 7:51am

Hongkongers should stay positive about the economy and opportunities in the city instead of "protesting so much", to set a good example to their children, a daughter of late shipping tycoon Pao Yue-kong says.

Anna Pao Sohmen also urged locals to take more constructive actions, however small, to save the environment, such as avoiding the creation of more waste.

Pao Sohmen was speaking yesterday ahead of the annual July 1 march next week, for which pan-democrats had been expecting more parents to turn up with their children. The talk at the Foreign Correspondents' Club was titled "Has Y.K. Pao and Deng Xiaoping's vision of modern China been realised?"

She recalled how her father, as owner of the world's biggest fleet in the 1970s, met China's paramount leader Deng and presented a skipping rope as a Christmas gift to British prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

"He left behind his positive attitude, his pragmatic approach and, above all, his sense of humour. A lot of these are the values of Hong Kong people," she said.

Two decades after her father's death in 1991, Hongkongers should ponder "how we can be more positive about Hong Kong", she said, since the city enjoyed access to mainland opportunities and its economy was "doing much better than [in] most other parts of the world".

"Hong Kong, of course, has a lot of problems. [But] it's so important to remember the three Rs … respect, responsibility and reflect. I think we are not reflecting enough," she said.

"A lot of people now take their children on marches. It's correct because you do teach them how to confront … but too much of it also gets our mood down so much. So we need to be more positive [and] responsible … in things we do say and … put across to the people."

In an apparent reference to political pressure that forced the environment minister to shelve the expansion of the Tseung Kwan O landfill, Pao Sohmen urged people to be more constructive "about environmental protection instead of demonstrating against certain measures which are inevitable".

Little decisions such as not buying a new cellphone unless it was necessary "are far more important than being negative".

In the run-up to the march on Monday, police said they would let participants use the two tramways that ran through Causeway Bay, Wan Chai and Admiralty.

Senior Superintendent Cheng Yiu-mo said they would consider closing a few MTR station exits in Central, depending on the number of people remaining in Chater Garden after the event. He estimated the area could hold about 20,000 people.

Icarus Wong Ho-yin, of rally organiser Civil Human Rights Front, said the police had not consulted them before announcing the decision. NeoDemocrats lawmaker Gary Fan Kwok-wai said the police were deliberately trying to limit the numbers. Cheng denied the claim. Asked if the police would treat the march as a chance to rehearse for Occupy Central, he said: "Contingency plans are also considered in preparing for public events."