My Take

What Hong Kong really lacks is an effective leader

Under ‘one country, two systems’, we are condemned to having the mediocre and clueless ruling the unruly and unreasonable.

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 March, 2017, 2:01am
UPDATED : Friday, 10 March, 2017, 2:01am

The more you fight your enemies, the more you become like them.

Radical localists who advocate independence have nothing but trouble and ruin to offer Hong Kong. But those on the mainland who think it’s time to rewrite the Basic Law are no less dangerous.

The latest salvo comes from Yu Hongjun, a former Chinese diplomat and political adviser to the central government.

Hong Kong’s Basic Law should be amended by national legislature, former diplomat says

He said at a Beijing forum there should be cross-border exchange of officials, taxes should be paid by the city to the central government and Hong Kong people should be able to join the People’s Liberation Army.

That’s not just amending the Basic Law, but undermining it. Why not scrap the mini-constitution and throw “one country, two systems” out the window altogether? Such talk from the mainland may be the opposite of those advocating independence. But both sides are equally extreme, unrealistic and destructive. It’s a good thing Yu was only speaking in his personal capacity. The official position of Beijing is that “one country, two systems” is working and must be upheld. Hallelujah! We should really start to worry when the central government stops adopting that party line. That day, though, may not be far off as Hong Kong becomes more politically troublesome and economically less significant.

Still, given how untenable the status quo has become, Yu’s desire for radical change to the Basic Law is understandable. An improvement in the quality of leadership would make an immediate change in local governance. It’s clear neither the civil service, the business elite nor the pan-democratic opposition is capable of producing a local leader of such calibre. The mainland does have such leaders with genuine political skills.

Zhang Dejiang (張德江), chairman of the National People’s Congress, would make an ideal chief executive. He would have the prestige and authority to rein in the business elite and the tycoons, and shut up those barbarians with the Heung Yee Kuk. He would have the political smarts to make the more intelligent pan-democrats see sense and reason with both sticks and carrots, and bring them into the fold.

He has acknowledged that not all localist expressions are secessionist, but would have the skills to contain such radicalism.

But “one country, two systems” requires that Hong Kong people rule Hong Kong. We are therefore condemned to having the mediocre and clueless ruling the unruly and unreasonable.