ON SECOND THOUGHT ELIZABETH WONG CHIEN CHI-LIEN
Column
by

Congratulations to Hong Kong’s new lawmakers ... now do your duty with humility

Enough of the flying bananas and filibustering, people want to see the legislature working in harmony

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 October, 2016, 4:11pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 October, 2016, 10:00pm

This week witnesses the inauguration of the city’s newly elected Legislative Council.

Let me, through this column, congratulate each and every one of the honourable members, who were successfully sworn in, on winning their seats either in geographical or functional constituencies to serve us on the council.

They are highly paid and their task ahead is tough. Their powers and functions are enshrined in article 73 of the Basic Law.

The ambit of these powers and functions – encompassing 10 areas of specific duties and responsibilities – is extensive enough to enable legislators to listen to the aspirations of the people, to know the mood of our time, and to keep the administration on the straight and narrow.

The capacity to give and take and to negotiate difficult bends in a political minefield is required to build harmony

In recent years there has been a certain predictability about our legislature. Frequent filibustering was expected as part of the political paraphernalia of a democratically elected legislature.

Frequent ringing of the bells to remind members to return to the council chamber fell on deaf ears, resulting in meetings being adjourned for lack of a quorum.

Mini missiles of bananas and such, flying through the sanctified air of the council chamber, once thought to be an entertaining mixture of politics with slapstick, have now become one big yawn.

At this juncture of the city’s development, strategically and tactically, many members of the public want to see our legislators do their job in humility and with harmony.

Humility and harmony go hand in hand. Humility makes a good political figure and builds trust.

Legislators who are humble enough to serve us will be able to create harmony in a polarised society.

To quote from C.S. Lewis, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.”

Abandon ego. Think of the people.

The capacity to give and take and to negotiate difficult bends in a political minefield is required to build harmony.

Yet, how to build harmony at a time when there is so much disparity in wealth, discrepancy in perception and dissonance in discontent will exercise the best brains of legislators, both individually and collectively.

The failure of legislators to recognise their role or to do their duty will make a dog’s breakfast of themselves, and inevitably, of us all.

Loud may be the political cant. But when the brouhaha is over at the next round of elections, the power of the silent majority will be felt.

The silent majority is always silent. But when the silent majority speak through the polls, their voice will be deafening.

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