Who is to blame for our vanishing quality of life?

Updated: 2015-10-23 08:26

By Harry Ong(HK Edition)

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Surely nobody was surprised when the findings of an annual survey recently showed that the quality of life in Hong Kong had slumped to a record low. Interestingly, in 2007 the survey returned its highest findings yet - a score of 108.78. By contrast, our latest quality of life figure was a lousy 101.75.

So what was so much better in our lifestyle in 2007 than that of today? Let us look back to those "good old days" and see what we have lost in recent years. First, in 2007 Hong Kong people had a go-getting attitude and were justly proud of the progress we continued to make. In particular many rejoiced that we were just over the border from the industrial powerhouse that had thundered into action there, and were delighted to see that we were getting a nice little share of the resultant economic "pie". People were content and happy. Out on the streets there was an amiable hustle and bustle, with smiles being exchanged in a cheerful atmosphere. Tourists were welcomed - especially those from the mainland. And, yes, we were thankful that the mainland authorities had streamlined the regulations so that ever-increasing numbers arrived, boosting our economy. Ah, such fond memories

Moving on to the latest survey, the two biggest complaints made by the 1,000 respondents were the increasingly unaffordable cost of housing for young people and our worsening political climate. Significantly, a large number of those polled said they felt "uncomfortable" about expressing their views on controversial social issues like the "Occupy Central" movement.

This discomfort is a point worth studying since it suggests that the community at large is, at best, wary of criticizing our hot-headed and self-righteous university students, and, at worst, has fears over what further disruptions and widespread chaos they might be planning.

Like it or not, fractious students have in recent years emerged as a significant factor in the decline of Hong Kong's social harmony, and consequently, livability. And the more they are allowed to get away with their disruptive rebelliousness, the bolder they become in their impudent behavior, further dragging down our ethos.

Additionally, since all but a handful of those involved in the "Occupy" mayhem have virtually got away with a "slap on the wrist" from our courts, they will be even more emboldened to test the patience of the police beyond breaking point in future public protests.

We must pray that the police somehow keep their cool because there is nothing that would maintain the rage of these self-centered youngsters as well as a martyr or two they could sanctify in their minds. Nothing perpetuates hatred better in young minds than to have such a figure as a driving force.

The latest twist in the students' protest campaign is to try to put their favored candidates into university governing bodies, so as to amend academic policies to dovetail with their political agenda.

Thus we have seen the ongoing drama at the highest levels of the University of Hong Kong (HKU), which began several weeks ago when senior-most members of its governing council were virtually held prisoner after student toughs burst in making demands.

Now students at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Lingnan University are apparently planning to stage protests at their campuses to draw attention to their supposed "right" to have a say in who should be appointed to their governing bodies. As is happening at HKU, they are bitterly opposed to candidates they consider to be conservatives.

Let's get some facts straight. Being responsible for the policies and curriculums of universities completing the education of thousands of our supposedly most promising students is not the business of those students. Their task is to study assiduously, absorb knowledge and thoroughly prepare themselves to make a positive contribution to society.

In recent times we have seen students indulging in the most appalling acts of misbehavior at graduation ceremonies, in particular showing a disgraceful lack of respect to Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and Chief Secretary for Administration Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor. And they have teamed up with radical politicians to obstruct the implementation of government policies.

Where in the world do you see students having the gall to demand a big say in university administration and governance before they have earned their keep? If we are to give in to these radicals just because of the vociferousness of their protests and because they have become the darlings of certain media groups, I tremble to think what they will be up to next! Hence I propose we nip the cause of our worsening quality of life in the bud and put them in their place. Adults rule. Kids listen.

The author is an international businessman and keen observer of Hong Kong affairs.

(HK Edition 10/23/2015 page10)