Hong Kong needs rational expression

Updated: 2012-09-27 05:51

By Yang Sheng(HK Edition)

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The SAR government has launched the third round of public consultation over the northeast New Territories (NT) development plan. However, some people continue to insist on accusing the government of harboring a plan to build northeast NT into "Shenzhen's garden" or "a luxury town for rich non-locals," no matter how the authorities explain why such claims are unfounded. It is understandable for some members of the public to question government policies every now and then, but drowning society in irrational noise does no good for Hong Kong.

The irrational mentality of distrust for the SAR government and a refusal to cooperate at any level has reached a disastrous degree in Hong Kong. Regarding the northeast NT development plan, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and Secretary for Development Chan Mo-po have emphasized repeatedly "the Northeastern NT Development Zone will be a new town for Hong Kong residents. It is part of the long-term plan to meet local residents' demand for residential housing, in which public and subsidized housing units will cater to Hong Kong permanent residents only. Most of the homes built by private developers will be small to medium-sized units designed specifically for local households." And "the Development Zone will be a residential estate, built expressly for Hong Kong residents - not a 'Shenzhen garden' or 'a luxury town for rich non-locals' as some rumormongers claim. Nor will it be a place for mainlanders to go shopping without entry permits."

Unfortunately the detractors treat everything the government does as a conspiracy and oppose the northeast NT development plan in an uncompromising fashion, despite the fact that the plan has gone through public consultation several times in the past 14 years and despite the wishes of so many local residents for a home of their own.

The truth is the crippling-the-government anomaly engineered by some extreme opposition politicians has been ravaging the city for quite some time now. The so-called five-constituency "referendum" in 2010, the judicial review case against the environmental assessment of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge construction project, the filibuster against the government reorganization plan and the ongoing anti-national education campaign are all examples of this political epidemic. Needless to say the government should be under proper supervision in any normal society, but that should be based on a healthy relationship between the government and the public like the two sides of a coin. Going extreme is never good for Hong Kong.

There is also a sinister undercurrent threatening Hong Kong in the form of "mainland-phobia" and isolationist thinking. A city where all kinds of social, economic and political interest groups vie for domination, Hong Kong has always been a playground for anti-Communist and China-phobic forces, which enjoy under-handed support from Western powers whenever an opportunity rises. That is why the opposition camp tends to play the "China (mainland)-phobic" trump card when everything else seems ineffective.

Since 2003, the pace of mainland-Hong Kong exchanges has been quickening under the "Individual Visit Scheme" and Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement. And it is no longer possible to reverse the development. Hong Kong's economy as a whole and the majority of local residents have benefited a great deal from this development, but issues such as the "birth rush" by non-local pregnant women from the mainland, "parallel trade" by mainland residents holding multiple-reentry permits and "uncivilized" behavior by some tourists from the north have also rocked local residents' way of thinking, lifestyle and personal interest. Some people are understandably upset about such problems, but they are all by-products of the development and can be resolved by sensible and reasonable means through dedicated cooperation between the two sides.

Not surprisingly, some politicians and political forces have seized this opportunity to sow discord between Hong Kong and the mainland, while spreading isolationist thoughts among local residents in a bid to push Hong Kong off the track of interdependent development, and make it go alone. Although most of the "poster boys" of this crowd have yet to declare formal allegiance to the "Hong Kong independence" cause, they are in fact "homies" with those separatist elements already.

For the long-term, this dangerous trend will destroy Hong Kong's prosperity and development, as well as local residents' livelihood and future well-being.

The author is a veteran current affairs commentator.

(HK Edition 09/27/2012 page3)