Public Eye

Mystery over Hong Kong bookseller’s disappearance will only make it harder for Beijing to win hearts and minds

Only a credible explanation over the whereabouts of Lee Bo will put worried Hongkongers at ease

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 January, 2016, 5:07pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 January, 2016, 1:01pm

Credible explanation needed over booksellerWhat’s the true story behind the mysterious disappearance of Lee Bo and four others from a Causeway Bay publishing house known for its books critical of the central government? Only the missing five and those responsible know. Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s body language at Monday’s hurriedly-called press conference suggested even he is clueless. But if mainland security agents did indeed spirit Lee across the border, as is widely speculated, then it’s idiocy on a monumental scale. Being heavy-handed against the opposition’s often hostile attitude towards Beijing is one thing. Half the people opposed the Occupy movement. But abducting a Hong Kong bookseller is another. Not only does it instil the fear of white terror in the minds of Hongkongers, it’s a godsend to those who paint the central government as a harsh communist regime that will not tolerate dissent. Leung’s forceful statement that mainland officials have no right to enforce laws here helped somewhat in reassuring people, but only a credible explanation of the disappearance can put minds at ease. Few buy Lee’s story that he voluntarily went to the mainland without travel documents to help with an investigation. For starters, it’s illegal to cross borders without proper documents. We need the truth post-haste or Beijing will have an even tougher time winning the hearts and minds of Hongkongers.

Make 2016 the year we give compromise a chance

Make 2016 the year of compromise on all sides

When is enough really enough? There’s been so much gutter politics on every issue that we’re all drowning in it. Surely, there comes a time when our politicians must recognise that the people are sick of endless battles over every issue, from stationing mainland immigration officials at the West Kowloon high-speed railway terminus and funding for the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge, to making Arthur Li Kwok-cheung chairman of the University of Hong Kong’s governing council. The railway, the bridge and Li’s appointment are now facts. White elephants or not, it’s too late to scrap the two pricey projects. And Leung is not going to reverse his appointment of Li as council chairman, whatever you throw at him. Critics say Li’s appointment is doomsday for academic freedom. But why not give him time to either show his critics were right or prove that he’s the best thing that ever happened to HKU? Surely, that’s better than embroiling HKU in endless confrontation, which helps no one except self-serving politicians. Critics say Leung was given three years but turned out to be a disaster for Hong Kong. But the fact is Leung received no honeymoon whatsoever. On the day he was sworn in, thousands marched to demand his ouster. Is it that unthinkable to make 2016 the year all sides called a truce so we can give compromise a chance? People are hurting. Homes are unaffordable. Salaries are stagnant. The poverty rate is high. The wealth gap is wide. Our competitors have surpassed us. It’s time our political leaders – inside and outside the government – serve the people instead of themselves.