Zhang Dejiang’s message to Macau had Hong Kong in mind

During his recent inspection visit to the former Portuguese enclave, the National People’s Congress chairman said the city’s success stemmed from its efforts to focus on development rather than idling away in internal bickering. There’s no doubt that it was a message also aimed at Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 13 May, 2017, 1:07am
UPDATED : Saturday, 13 May, 2017, 1:07am

Beijing has not shied away from praising Macau as a better model of “one country, two systems”. From keeping the house in order to enacting laws to protect national security, our neighbour has arguably done a better job than Hong Kong over the past 18 years. While there is certainly room for us to do better, the circumstances of the two special administrative regions are vastly different. Hong Kong cannot be expected to emulate what its neighbour has managed to deliver.

Unlike in some places where the executive, the legislature and the judiciary are expected to cooperate, the three branches function separately here. The arrangements for National People’s Congress chairman Zhang Dejiang to address the three branches directly during his visit to Macau may therefore seem somewhat unusual to Hongkongers. But from Beijing’s point of view, the arrangements are simply a manifestation of authority and the relationship between the central government and the special administrative region.

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The third highest-ranking state leader made clear his expectations during the three-day inspection visit to the former Portuguese enclave. While he commended Macau for safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests by enacting the national security law, he said the government had to boost governance at the same time. He also told lawmakers that they should adhere to their oath of office and avoid filibusters, apparently referring to some Hong Kong lawmakers not taking their oath seriously and dragging out legislative procedures. The reminders are as much for Macau as for Hong Kong.

With the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese sovereignty just a few weeks away, it is high time we reflected on our inadequacies. Politically, the relationship between the executive and the legislature still leaves much to be desired. Although the latter is expected to keep the former in check, the past few years have seen some lawmakers abusing procedures to stall the enactment of legislation and approval of funding.

Developments on the socio-economic front are not promising either. Just like our neighbour has become over reliant on the casino industry, we are also under pressure to explore new engines of economic growth. Similarly, our runaway property markets have fuelled social grievances, and people’s livelihoods in both places are also in need of improvement.

Summing up Macau’s achievement under Chinese rule, Zhang said the city’s success stemmed from its efforts to focus on development rather than idling away in internal bickering. The message is no doubt intended for Hong Kong as well, which has yet to “accurately” implement “one country, two systems” in Beijing’s eyes.