When I read the slogan 'snails without shells' recently, I could not help but chuckle. Long time no see! The last time this term was used was around the handover, 12 years ago, when property prices were sky high. Back then, the democrats took to the streets, demanding housing for all 'snails', meaning everybody.
That seemed like a jolly good idea, and our first chief executive, Tung Chee-hwa, bought it and launched the fatal campaign to build at least 85,000 housing units a year. The property bubble burst and prices tumbled. At its peak, there were estimated to be more than 1 million people in negative equity.
The same dissidents took to the streets again, demanding that the government put a stop to the price fall. This, together with the severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak, ultimately hurt Tung and he resigned in 2005 after 68 consecutive months of painful deflation. The property crash was finally arrested when the administration stopped virtually all supply of government land and housing.
Unfortunately, our officials never know when to ditch a policy. After years of restricted supply of both government land and housing, prices have rocketed again. The very same democrats have reappeared in rallies, chanting the same old slogan of 'snails without shells'.
The same holds for environmental protection issues. The people who previously lobbied the government hard to reduce vehicle emissions and build more railways, and to replace old-fashioned light bulbs with energy saving bulbs, are now fighting against the building of high-speed rail links as well as the bulb replacement programme.
Are these people really green, and what are they really up to? I can only conclude that dissidents are dissidents, and they will never pass up any chance to bash the government. They have no true convictions; only deep mistrust of the government and the chief executive, whom they regard as Beijing's puppet.
Out of this they can concoct any conspiracy theory of collusion and abuse of power for their own benefit. Following on from Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's recent policy address, dissidents dug up alleged collusion with his in-laws. Yet, these allegations are without substance. Still, the harm is done, and what can anyone do?
The silent majority is totally fed up with watching these meaningless fiascos in the mainstream media everyday. But again, what can anyone do? No one has the guts to call for an immediate stop to it. As the mainstream Chinese media is sympathetic to this nonsense, any objector would be either ostracised or shouted down. So-called public opinion is monopolised by the dissidents and manufactured at will, and the true voice of the public is totally drowned out and ignored.
I don't know what will happen, or when this nonsense will end, but the situation is unsustainable. Change is in the air. If our citizens take a proactive approach, we can surely make it a change for the better.
Lau Nai-keung is a member of the Basic Law Committee of the NPC Standing Committee and a member of the Commission on Strategic Development