We need to take the best of Eastern and Western social ideals

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 July, 2015, 12:01am
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 July, 2015, 12:01am

Is the magic formula, "one country: two systems" now dead in the water?

Since the return of Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty in 1997, many of us expected that we could enjoy 50 years of political stability with an eventual smooth transition to the mainland's system of government. How naive we were.

History should have taught us that authority and power are very seductive - the more you have, the more you want.

It is almost impossible for those who have power to relinquish or share it, since they feel that giving away power is a loss of face. We all know that many people from the Far East fear a loss of face more than death as can be seen from the suicide of those who face defeat or humiliation.

Nations, too, are caught up in this pathology since their leaders identify the state and its powers with themselves.

All the dictators of the 20th century - Hitler, Mussolini, Salazar, Duvalier, Franco, Stalin and Mao - believed that their vision of the state was an extension of their ego, of their very being. For this reason they placed extreme emphasis on national security and armed force. They used the pretext of external threats to bolster their security apparatus, but they really feared their own people.

The terrible wars of the 20th century should have taught people and politicians that we do not want or need national security imposed from above. We want the security that comes from fairness, justice and equality in our society. The real threats to people and their lives do not come from outside; they come from the poverty, inequality and neglect caused by their own leaders who spend enormous sums on arms, security forces, spies, prison camps and state propaganda.

If these sums were spent on meeting genuine social needs, on respecting people instead of calling them "the masses" and "the proletariat", there would not be such anger and rebellion in modern society.

Unfortunately, some political theories derived from Marxist/Leninist ideology have poisoned the waters of thought in some national capitals. We are warned about evil "Western ideas". However Marx, Lenin and Stalin were Westerners.

When will we hear fresh social thinking based on the best of Eastern and Western religious and social ideals that can elevate, inspire and unite citizens and foster peace and cooperation?

Jonathan Kong, Cheung Sha Wan