Horse brings a window of opportunity

PUBLISHED : Friday, 24 January, 2014, 4:18am
UPDATED : Friday, 24 January, 2014, 4:18am

The Year of the Snake, representing the old, is fast slithering away to make way for the Year of the Horse, symbolising the new.

The Horse is shaping up as a predictable year. Two issues will loom large on the horoscopic horizon: the questions of universal suffrage and universal pensions.

As a freelancing soothsayer, my prognosis for next year is that it will be better than this year. But honestly, it does not take a stargazer to predict this.

For nothing could be worse than this year - best described as a year of omnishambles.

There were the imbroglios of ineffectual policies which hung like the sword of Damocles over important issues such as land for housing and refuse dumps; milk-powder for Hong Kong babies; and kindergarten and school places for Hong Kong kids. Then, there was the Hong Kong Television Network fiasco which was proof enough of the government's unwelcome intervention in the market place.

To top it all, many of the government's policy initiatives were plagued by either an uneasy passage through the Legislative Council or were blocked altogether, so much so that people were beginning to ask whether Hong Kong was governable at all.

With an ever widening wealth gap and a diminishing middle class, the urban poor still live in substandard housing, including dingy holes of partitioned tenements which they call home.

Optimism for the future is currently in short supply and people are marching in the street to show their frustration and vent their anger in a quest for self-identity and redress.

Even so, contrary to the Cassandra-like prophecy of doom and gloom for next year, my own prediction is that the Year of the Horse will bring hope and a better future; and I hedge my bet on the winning horse.

It will be a landmark year of change for Hong Kong.

It will be a year which presents the window of opportunity for Hong Kong to make the right choice.

On the question of electoral reform, we are admonished to stick to the strictures of the Basic Law that acts like a necessary gravitational pull to keep things earthbound.

Our horse sense tells us without this gravitational pull, things will be floating all over the place. Still, typically in Hong Kong, there are always those who aim to fly high, defying the gravitational pull.

Equally, there are people clever enough to negotiate difficult bends and overcome obstacles in order to make it possible for us to choose a leader of the people and not a leader of some of the people.

Together, we will choose for our future and for the future consequences.

Our choice of a system best suited to Hong Kong should enable us to pave the way for the Year of the Rooster in 2017 and any wrong choice might just turn the rooster into a chicken. I am optimistic and hopeful yet.

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