The opposition should accept reality and behave appropriately

Updated: 2014-06-16 07:19

By Leung Lap-yan (HK Edition)

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The White Paper on the Practice of the "One Country, Two Systems" Policy in the Hong Kong SAR gives a detailed account of the development and achievements of Hong Kong under the "One Country, Two Systems" policy from the central government's viewpoint. The paper can be summarized into three parts: 1) the considerable achievements of the "One Country, Two Systems" policy since the handover; 2) the role of the Hong Kong SAR under the "One Country, Two Systems" principle, and 3) the need for "Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong" by patriots in the SAR government.

Every part of the white paper has its significance. First, it lists the most remarkable achievements by the "One Country, Two Systems" policy since the handover.

The opposition camp has painted a grim picture of Hong Kong. It argues the SAR government is incompetent, lacks popular support and cannot achieve economic progress or political and social harmony. But this is not true. In the past 17 years, Hong Kong has achieved remarkable economic growth. It has also maintained its leading position in terms of global competitiveness. The statistics reported in the white paper should fill us with pride. The mainland has also provided Hong Kong with generous support, which helped the city emerge successfully from a number of international financial crises during the past 17 years.

The white paper explains the relationship between "One Country" and "Two Systems" - with the emphasis on "One Country" as the basis of "Two Systems". The latter is subordinate to, derived from, and relevant because of the former. In this relationship "Two Systems" is not equal to "One Country" in terms of governing power.

The white paper says "the system of the special administrative region, as prescribed in the Constitution of the People's Republic of China and the Basic Law of the HKSAR, is a special administrative system developed by the state for certain regions. Under this system, the central government exercises overall jurisdiction over the HKSAR. This includes the powers directly exercised by the central government, and those delegated to the HKSAR by the central government to enable it to exercise a high degree of autonomy in accordance with the law."

This means the high degree of autonomy of the HKSAR is not full autonomy or power-sharing with the central government. It is merely administrative powers delegated by the central government. The degree of autonomy the HKSAR enjoys is determined by the central government. The HKSAR is in no position to bargain over this. Politicians who want Hong Kong to be an independent political entity, capable of countering the state, are dreaming.

The white paper also stresses the need to implement "Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong" with patriots in government. Without this, the nation's sovereign rule over Hong Kong, its security, development and the "One Country, Two Systems" policy will be jeopardized, along with the SAR's prosperity and stability. "Patriots governing Hong Kong" should have been accepted by Hongkongers a long time ago. There is no reason to waste time debating this. It is time we stopped such self-abuse!

Years ago, I was the first person in Hong Kong to say that "remaining unchanged for 50 years does not mean to be left alone for 50 years." It is shame many people in power tried to appease the opposition while the threat of a "color revolution" pushed Hong Kong closer to today's predicament.

The SAR government has never enjoyed a day without trouble from political dissidents. They are working harder than ever to disable the SAR government. The illegal "Occupy Central" movement will hold a "referendum" on June 22 on constitutional reform. The ultra-radical groups will again create social discord with their annual July 1 protest march. Some have even called it a dress rehearsal for "Occupy Central". This can be blamed on a failure to take patriotism seriously in Hong Kong.

The white paper can be seen as an ultimatum which the central government has sent to the opposition camp. Beijing has done everything in its power in terms of Hong Kong's constitutional development. There is no more room for concessions.

This situation reminds me of a fable I read as a child. It tells the story of fisherman who one day caught a fish with magical powers. He was granted three wishes in exchange for the fish's freedom. The fisherman and his wife found their life was improved overnight after making their first wish. Life was even better after the second. Then, his wife got greedy and asked to be made a Queen with the fish as her servant. The fish became angry and punished the fisherman's wife. The couple's life returned to its previous miserable state. If the opposition camp has any political wisdom it should accept the current realities and behave appropriately.

The author is a veteran current affairs commentator.

(HK Edition 06/16/2014 page9)