A close-minded Hong Kong view of mainland China
If you are a barrister, you may legitimately claim expertise when you comment on "one country, two systems" or the Basic Law. But if your commentary only makes generalised claims about mainland-Hong Kong relations or ugly mainlanders, then you have as much or as little authority as that of a taxi driver, a homemaker or a newspaper pundit like me.
Some barristers and lawmakers may think they are "public intellectuals", but most end up advocating a myopic "Hong Kong-centric" view rather than clarifying some very difficult cross-border problems confronting the city today. That's how I find the latest Letter to Hong Kong by Paul Shieh Wing-tai SC, on RTHK at the weekend. It is supercilious and condescending but utterly lacks analysis and balance. In its inflammatory anti-mainland bias, it's typical of some Hong Kong people. The only difference is that its byline carries the name of a former Bar Association chief.
Shieh writes that mainlanders think "they can do anything because they have money". They are told China is now a powerful nation, so they have become arrogant, overconfident and overbearing. Well, I am sure some mainland and even Hong Kong people are like that, and not a few work in the legal profession! But Hongkongers frequently accuse mainlanders of being rude, uncouth and uncivilised, characteristics that usually don't co-exist with those cited by Shieh. I have some mainland friends, and I don't recognise those characteristics in them. One family I know is almost ashamed to let people know they are from the mainland.
Shieh writes that Hong Kong people and those overseas enjoy a free flow of information and can always tell both sides of a story, unlike mainlanders who only know what the government tells them. Mr Shieh, it's time for a mainland visit and make some friends there! Decades of communist destruction of traditional values and thinking have created a clean slate, making many mainlanders far more open-minded than we are in Hong Kong. Educated mainlanders know how to interpret an official statement the way most Hong Kong people simply don't.
Shieh writes mainland officials are making statements that hurt our lifestyle and values. Well, perhaps no more hurtful than Shieh's own pronouncements about mainland people!