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Beijing's support source of comfort for the people
(China Daily)
Updated: 2007-06-28 06:47

Beijing's support source of comfort for the peopleAs one of the few women political leaders in Hong Kong, Rita Fan, president of Legislative Council (LegCo), enjoys popularity with her gentle yet straightforward style. She shares her thoughts on the return with China Daily reporter Wu Jiao:

Q: What's your evaluation on the 'one country, two systems' model in Hong Kong?

A: I think the model has been implemented well in Hong Kong. That is not just my personal opinion, but also an opinion shared by many Hong Kong residents as well as people in British and American political circles. Reports on Hong Kong delivered regularly by these politicians said that the model has been well implemented in Hong Kong.

I think the model is just like a seed, which has already grown. I believe within the following 10 years, the root of the model will be further consolidated and will have grown deeper in the earth.

Q: What kind of role has LegCo played improving the economy and the livelihood of the public?

A: We have special councils to supervise policy implementation of most sectors in Hong Kong. As Hong Kong adopts an executive-led social system, the SAR government has a major role to play.

When the government proposes a new policy or amendment on various policies, LegCo will discuss to decide either to support it or amend it. It is a mutually complementary and mutually restrictive relationship. Social concerns have always been our focus.

For instance, in years when the economy was not so good, LegCo members would unite to object any price rise motions proposed by the government in the interests of the public.

Q: Have Hong Kong people's perceptions about the country changed in the last 10 years?

A: Of course there have been changes. Before the return, many Hong Kong people were worried that their lifestyle and freedom would be affected. They were also afraid that the central government would intervene within their affairs.

In other words, they were not 100 percent confident with what has been written into the Basic Law.

But after the return, we weathered many difficulties and the central government has given us all-out support. For instance, at the critical period of the financial crisis, our central government leaders made it public on several occasions that they would support the Hong Kong currency at any price.

This has greatly comforted the Hong Kong people. Through this period, we began to understand that the central government was there to support us, not only just through words, but through concrete deeds.

While the Hong Kong people saw all this, they began to understand who our true friend was and who really helped us in need. There have been surveys on public opinion since the return. We found that more than 50 percent of Hong Kong people now have confidence in our central government, and that number is increasing. Those surveys also reflected that most Hong Kong people consider themselves Hongkongers instead of Chinese. This is because we didn't have any introduction to our origin and our country during the colonial time.

There was little such introduction within the first few years after the return. Now slowly we have started to care more for our motherland. The mainland economy is like an engine, which fuels Hong Kong's development. The youngsters in Hong Kong are very active in learning more about the country.

Q: What's the major challenge as chairperson of the LegCo as a woman? What advantage does being a woman bring?

A: If there is any advantage, I think it is easier for me to accept my mistakes. Making mistakes is a natural thing, and I try and fix it whenever it happens. That helps reduce my psychological pressure.

The second advantage is, as a mum who is 61 years old, sometimes I can be soft and gentle and say something to my member male politicians may find hard to say.

For instance, when a male member became excited during a discussion the other day and regularly stood up to interrupt a presentation, I would just simply tell him in a casual and mum-like way: 'Sit down! Sit down! Stop being mischievous'.

I think he would be displeased if somebody else said these words, but he was okay with me. He knew that I meant to cause no offence.

(China Daily 06/28/2007 page4)