Hong Kong has experienced major social unrest before: in 1956, 1967 and now. But the current unrest is probably the worst, and people have suffered. Few could imagine a city that takes pride in being cool and resourceful becoming so fractured, socially and physically, and with so much negative emotion. However, Hong Kong survived the unrest in the past and each time emerged stronger and more determined to reach new heights of shared prosperity and happiness. Do not cry over our beloved Hong Kong; it is up to us to exercise constructive dissatisfaction. Hong Kong can be better, and its people can make it so. In life, the worst time is the best time for reconciliation and cooperation to rebuild. The worst one can do at this juncture is to raise an accusing finger. It is time to self-reflect. All politicians and civilian groups should ask themselves whether they have, individually or collectively, contributed to the mayhem due to their decisions and behaviour now or in the past, no matter how noble their original motivation might be. The best thing to do is to take a step back and apologise for the situation. The word sorry can go a long way. Chief Executive Carrie Lam and the Chair of the Legislative Council Andrew Leung should appear together with leaders of the Pan-Democracy and Pan-development groups to publicly apologise. The Police Commissioner should also say sorry for possibly aggressive behaviour. The protesters (and some are rioters) should send a representative to apologise to the people of Hong Kong and the police for the damage they have caused. That would be a major step toward long term healing and redevelopment efforts. Please take no stance on nativism; we are all for Hong Kong, our home. We should believe in ourselves: Hong Kong people can fix Hong Kong’s problems. We can become a shining example to the world about what an intelligent community with a coherent spirit can do – be our own rational master which chooses to do the right thing. The world will applaud. There can be no true healing unless we acknowledge our mistakes. Most religions advocate forgiveness, but the precondition is to admit sins. Hence, after the apologies, the government should establish a fact-finding commission to review the behaviour of all parties over the last six months. Anyone against this has something to hide. Sunshine is the best sanitiser. Hong Kong needs to develop a long-term vision; the government has the responsibility to nurture and lead this development. Reforming Hong Kong’s economic policies is a must, we need a viable sustainable policy that incentivises the market, mitigates harmful excessive profit-making, provides a reasonable social safety net, and engenders inclusive growth, including for future generations. But this vision must include more than just economics. A government has to balance the interests of all classes, including those of the future generation. If that balance is lost, the state can be captured by tycoons or populists. The former leads to disparity and helplessness of the underprivileged. The latter leads to the mutual dependence of opportunistic politicians and special interest groups seeking instant policy impacts leading to costly, inconsistent policies. Hong Kong as a community needs to work with the government to maintain this dynamic balance. The precondition is that society needs to be intelligent, and have a coherent identity. Our intelligence is badly hurt by exaggerated or fake news, especially on social media. All sides have done their share of damage, and should be held responsible. An emphasis on action and consequence is an important factor in parenting and in maintaining our social integrity. Hong Kong needs to agree on developing responsible and respectful communication. This is not breaching freedom of speech and does not change the common law tradition. It is time to heal. I plead to the government and opposition groups to all apologise. All societies comprise of mixed subgroups, each with their own interests. Only when a society has a collective identity can the “small me” yield to the “collective us”. Without this, we practise nativism, dwell in conflicts and discordant attitudes, and every group will suffer. Building an intelligent society with a collective identity starts with emphasising family values and education. Has Hong Kong done well in this? What is the background of those behind the violence, regardless of their motives? How have our educators managed the fine line between teaching cynicism and teaching critical thinking? We must examine whether they have prepared our next generation for a fast-changing world in which students need to be literate in scientific principles, technology, data and humanity. Have they attained a reasonable balance? It is time to heal. I plead to the government and opposition groups to all apologise. Then stop the violence, property destruction, and even rallies. Let us all come to the table and calmly share our perspectives and wisdom. There is much to talk about. We do have the resources and the ability to act properly. Hong Kong can be a shining example for both mainland China and the West. China has done wonders in elevating its people out of poverty, yet it rarely admits mistakes. Admitting mistakes is not a sign of weakness but signals confidence and sincerity in doing even better in future. Things are bad for Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing camp, it’s going to get worse Coming together to seek a long-term vision, to build an intelligent society with a common identity shows broad shoulders that are not drilling on the past but working collaboratively for the future can create wonders, including stability and prosperity. That is the medicine for the Western world, where shrinking the size of the pie breeds nativism and populism, damaging the world. The Chinese character for people is written as two persons leaning on each other. Hong Kong can show the world how to do that. Bernard Yeung is Stephen Riady Distinguished Professor in Finance and Strategic Management at the National University of Singapore Business School.