In the press

Updated: 2013-03-06 06:36

(HK Edition)

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In the press

Curbs are misunderstood

Hong Kong's decision to restrict the amount of baby milk taken out of the city has drawn strong reaction from various sectors on both sides of the border. The issue has now even become a catch phrase at the annual plenary sessions of the National People's Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) with practically all Hong Kong NPC delegates and CPPCC members having been asked for their views.

Many mainland residents had come to the SAR to buy baby formula as much as they could, but it had caused a shortage in supply to local residents, forcing the city's authorities to take tough steps against hoarding and to allow supplies to return to normal. However, some mainland people who have spoken out against Hong Kong's decision do not know the whole story and have misunderstood the action. They should calm down and show compassion and understanding.

Under the new rules, each person is allowed to take no more than 1.8kg of baby formula out of the SAR a day, with offenders facing a fine of up to HK$500,000 and/or two years' imprisonment. Some mainlanders want to know exactly whether baby formula is in short supply in Hong Kong, complaining that the penalties are too heavy. Some claim that mainlanders are no longer welcome to shop in the city. The SAR government owes them some clarification.

What's true is that mainland consumers have turned to foreign brands of baby formula in the wake of a series of scandals involving mainland dairy producers and Hong Kong has become the leading supplier due to its free port status and convenience of shopping. Retail sales of baby formula went up 4.5 times between 2006 and 2012 in Hong Kong while the number of newborns grew by merely 1.2 to 1.3 times. That suggests that non-local demand for baby milk powder, mostly from the mainland, had outstripped local demand significantly.

Some people have a wrong perception of the penalties meted out, but the maximum punishment might not be handed down in every case. Recently, a man was fined HK$5,000 for trying to take nine cans of baby formula to Shenzhen, while another was fined HK$500 for attempting to cross the border with two cans twice in 24 hours. No offender has been jailed so far.

This is an excerpted translation of a Hong Kong Commercial Daily editorial published on March 5.

Man Ping-lei

Show patriotic spirit

Replying to a question on direct Chief Executive election by popular vote in 2017, Lu Xinhua, spokesman for the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), said on Monday he is confident that Hong Kong compatriots will elect a chief executive who loves the country as well as Hong Kong. CPPCC Chairman Jia Qinglin said in his report to the annual session of the CPPCC that he supports Hong Kong and Macao members' efforts to inform local youth of the national condition and organize study tours for them to learn more about the mainland. These words have turned out to be a hot topic for Hong Kong's political commentators and the media.

The mainstream press maintains that electing a Chief Executive who loves the country as well as Hong Kong is a matter of course. The most important message in Jia's speech is that we must make sure that a directly elected Chief Executive loves the country as well as Hong Kong from the heart. The mainstream media also believe that by supporting Hong Kong and Macao CPPCC members' efforts to inform local youth of the national condition, Jia was talking precisely about the anti-national education, anti-"brain-washing" and "de-Sinofication" campaigns waged by the opposition camp in Hong Kong. The learning process is a boost to the youth's knowledge about the country and an opportunity for them to broaden their views on life and careers.

The opposition, on the other hand, has labeled Jia's and Lu's words as "rhetorical preparation for Beijing's plan to hold a fake direct CE election in Hong Kong". The opposition mouthpiece went so far as to declare "CE election candidates do not have to be patriotic or love Hong Kong." That statement is squarely against the Basic Law. As a matter of fact, the patriotic spirit is found throughout the Basic Law; and claiming "the Chief Executive does not have to be patriotic or love Hong Kong" amounts to trampling on the Basic Law.

The author is a current affairs commentator. This is an excerpted translation of his article published in Wen Wei Po on March 5.

(HK Edition 03/06/2013 page1)