Public Eye

It’s time to accept reality – Hong Kong is a city in decline and it’s our fault

The Lion Rock spirit is dead, our Asian neighbours no longer look up to us and we can’t get the simplest jobs done. Blame the fight for so-called true democracy

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 December, 2016, 4:31pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 December, 2016, 4:42pm

What’s your New Year’s resolution? Turn back the clock to make Hong Kong the way it was? Resurrect the Lion Rock spirit? Reclaim our city’s status as a must-go Asia tourist destination? Beat Singapore in everything like before instead of being beaten in everything?

Forget about it. Those days are gone. The Lion Rock spirit didn’t abandon us. We killed it. Our tourism crown wasn’t snatched. We surrendered it. Singapore didn’t get better than us. We got worse.

Hong Kong was once a global brand name that rang loud and proud. We stood taller than other so-called Asian tigers. We were an international city with a good standard of English. We reinvented ourselves whenever necessary. Most importantly, we got things done.

Now we are a city in decline, a shadow of our past. Asian neighbours no longer lap up our music, fashion, and TV drama trends. We lap up K-Pop and Japanese dramas. Even government leaders have quietly given up branding us Asia’s world city. They know it has a hollow ring to it.

Name one infrastructure project in recent years we have completed on time and without cost overruns? Every project is riddled with delays and price hikes caused either by poor leadership, substandard management, or partisan politics. We have come to accept our failures, legislative gridlock and societal divide as the new normal.

No one batted an eyelid when the MTR warned the much-delayed South Island Line that opens on Wednesday would cause such overcrowding at the Admiralty interchange that passengers can expect waits of up to five trains. Turnstiles and escalators will be turned off at peak hours to slow passenger flow. Surely, that smacks of a disgraceful failure to project passenger growth?

This is what we have become as we trudge into 2017 – a city with a lost identity tearing itself apart. We moan about polarisation, unaffordable housing, disillusioned youths, mainland meddling and loss of competitiveness. We blame everyone else except ourselves.

Virtually everything that is wrong with us is rooted in our fight for so-called true democracy. We lie to ourselves that our promised high degree of autonomy equals self-determination with elections free of any Beijing input. We delude ourselves that this so-called true democracy will shield us from the mainland.

Many hate to face the fact we are a city in China. We are now reaping what we sowed. Happy New Year.