New Year’s resolutions for a better Hong Kong – if only we can keep them
Mike Rowse says that in 2018, Beijing should resolve to respect Hong Kong’s autonomy, and the Hong Kong government should show it deserves such freedom by working for the people’s interest
It’s the time of year for making resolutions to guide behaviour during the next 12 months to improve ourselves. Before I make another set for myself, I thought I would make resolutions for the parties shaping life in Hong Kong.
We should start with the central people’s government and its representatives in the special administrative region, especially bearing in mind the recent emphasis on comprehensive jurisdiction.
Resolution No 1 should be to have confidence in local administration, and in the common sense of the Hong Kong people. We know and accept that we are part of China and independence is a non-starter, so let us get on with Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong.
This leads to resolution No 2: refrain from micromanaging the city and commenting publicly on every issue. The correct answer to most media enquiries in the next 12 months: “We have every confidence that the SAR government will handle this issue competently.”
For the powers that be in Tamar, resolution No 1 should be to show the people of Hong Kong you are always on their side, and willing to take on vested interests where required. The long delay in reforming the Medical Council was outrageous. Not taking on the taxi cartel amounts to abdication. Most urgently, the government has to demonstrate that it is not in hock to the Heung Yee Kuk or property developers.
All the land in Hong Kong belongs to the state – it says so in the Basic Law. Power to manage those assets on behalf of the central government has been delegated to you. Manage rural areas in the best interests of all the people, not a privileged few. Send the small-house policy to join the dodo.
Further, immediately halt the construction and sale of micro flats. These are damaging the health of occupants. Set a minimum size for apartments (500 sq ft, for example) and to hell with the Real Estate Developers Association.
Resolution No 2: learn how to handle the central government more skilfully. As we know it is no use confronting officials directly, it just gets up their nose and makes them say silly things (such as, everyone at the races has to stand for the national anthem).
Now for the pan-democrats: resolution No 1, stop calling yourself the opposition and acting as if you are one. Your job is to monitor the administration and make our laws better. You could start by drafting national security legislation to cover aspects of Article 23, with all the safeguards customary in a free society.
Resolution no 2: be much more selective in items where you do oppose the government. Filibustering everything, which has seemed to be your default policy position, annoys people, obstructs public business and makes you look like a bunch of yobboes.
Save your energy for important issues like the highly dubious circumstances surrounding Lee Bo’s visit to the mainland or, even scarier, the de facto abduction from a Central hotel of a mainland businessman. These extremely serious cases merit the sternest response.
The resolution for the media is to stop trivialising everything and exercise some judgment. If a political figure of any age talks nonsense, call him out on it! Don’t just write it down and then put to someone else for a response. That’s not journalism.
The resolution for Joshua Wong and friends: see if you can go a whole calendar month without appearing on TV or being quoted in print. You have made a useful contribution to society, but you have to accept you are not the font of all wisdom on all things. It may be tough, but give it a try and give us all a break.
The final resolution is for my fellow citizens: we should have confidence in ourselves. Hong Kong is a terrific city – safe, efficient and providing a decent standard of living for the majority of its inhabitants. There are areas where we need to improve and we should focus on these. We should stop worrying about 2047. The society we pass on to our children and grandchildren depends on what we do from now on. Let’s all make it the best we can.
By the end of this year I will be 70. It would be nice if my weight were 70 kilos. And that’s my resolution.
Mike Rowse is the CEO of Treloar Enterprises. [email protected]