Carrie Lam on the wrong track for reconciliation

If Hong Kong’s leader thinks her olive branch to the opposition over joint immigration and customs clearance at the West Kowloon rail terminus will work, she can think again

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 07 October, 2017, 1:07am
UPDATED : Saturday, 07 October, 2017, 1:07am

Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has promised what she calls a “grand reconciliation” with the opposition. As part of that effort, the chief executive is seeking a non-binding motion on the government’s “co-location” plan for the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link for debate in the Legislative Council later this month.

By offering an opportunity for the opposition to air its views in the legislature, no doubt she thinks it will be seen as a gesture of goodwill. What is she thinking?

No olive branch from her administration will ever satisfy the opposition over the plan to introduce joint immigration and customs clearance at the upcoming West Kowloon rail terminus. This is despite support from most Hong Kong people, both for the rail plan’s rationality and convenience of travel.

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A Ming Pao survey conducted in August by the University of Hong Kong’s public opinion programme, which is run by Robert Chung Ting-yiu, found that nearly 53 per cent of respondents supported the plan compared with 34 per cent against it.

A separate Liberal Party survey showed a support rate of 60 per cent.

Still, the opposition, led by the Civic Party, is dead set against it. “Co-location” has become the biggest propaganda tool for the opposition to claim the breach of “one country, two systems” and a big stick with which to beat Lam over her “betrayal” of autonomy.

The truth is that it has little to do with autonomy and constitutionality; other sovereign countries such as Britain and France have made similar arrangements for years at the Eurostar terminal in London. But the opposition is telling the public that Hong Kong, which is a part of China, can’t do it with the mainland!

If you are so afraid of running into trouble with Chinese authorities, why would you jump on an express train to the mainland in the first place?

Lam has invested so much political capital in “co-location” it’s just too tempting for the opposition not to exploit it to the fullest to discredit her. They know it will go ahead, but it’s still worthwhile to seed enough doubt among the public to fuel anger and confusion.

The motion will just be another opportunity for them to grandstand. It will pass, though, as it only needs support from a simple majority in Legco.

Reconciliation, Mrs Lam? Dream on.