As Hong Kong lawmakers are sworn in, let’s focus on issues that can unite
Holden Chow hopes the opposing camps can at least reach a consensus on crucial livelihood matters while seeking to debate with good humour other, more controversial issues to bring sensibility back to politics
With 26 new faces elected to the chamber, Hong Kong’s Legislative Council is set to turn to a new page.
As members were being sworn in, it reminded me of Hong Kong’s role and the edge we enjoy under “one country, two systems”. We have support from the central government. We also have our rule of law and our own social system, which suits our way of life.
Many Hongkongers have a good command of English, which connects our city to the rest of the world. Our economy is well secured with backing from China, which will enable us to avert any large-scale recession despite the risk of a global economic downturn.
Independence can only ever be harmful to Hong Kong, given that countless jobs and daily lives directly or indirectly depend on the mainland. If we were to lose our links to China, what would the consequences be for these people? I am sure Hongkongers are rational; we understand the dire consequences at stake here.
A better way to keep Hong Kong thriving is to uphold “one country, two systems”, make full use of our privileges under the principle and also maintain our role as a gateway to China.
Apart from advocacy of independence, I am also concerned about the prevailing attitude, led by the opposition, towards our infrastructure projects, namely the high-speed railway, the third runway and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge, which are widely seen as white elephants.
Economics 101 teaches us that developing infrastructure is a pillar of any economy; it creates jobs and, as a result, domestic demand in society. Unfortunately, the pan-democrats have been relentlessly opposing every major infrastructure project and will stop at nothing to halt the work. If this persists, it will certainly deal a blow to our economy.
Recently, I visited the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge project, and checked on the construction work in progress. The technology being used in building this 55km bridge is widely acknowledged as the most advanced and reliable in the world. This is enabling the mainland authorities to overcome many hurdles in the course of the construction. When the bridge opens, people will be able to travel from Hong Kong to Zhuhai or Macau in just 30 minutes.
Many of those dismissing such projects probably won’t realise the benefits until the very day when they are opened to the public.
Despite the contrasting views between the pro-establishment camp and non-establishment Legco members on major issues, such as “one country, two systems” and the Basic Law, we should carry on our dialogue and explore ways to achieve a consensus on livelihood matters that are less controversial – for instance, easing the Chinese proficiency requirement for ethnic minorities in job recruitment, modifying the Competition Ordinance to clamp down more effectively on anti-competitive behaviour and enhancing the speed of internet access in rural areas.
I recall my time in England watching debates in Parliament, with both sides mocking each other, yet managing to retain a sense of humour; the proceedings were often accompanied by great outbursts of laughter in the chamber.
Winston Churchill never took things personally in politics. That is good advice for Hong Kong lawmakers. A good temperament is essential for creating the right atmosphere in the legislature to enable us to get things done.
I shall keep reminding myself of the good custom in London’s Parliament in the years to come, and keep my fingers crossed for better things in our own chamber.
Holden Chow is a legislative councillor with the DAB