Complacent attitudes will harm Hong Kong's future development

Updated: 2016-04-21 07:41

By Fung Keung(HK Edition)

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My fellow Hong Kong compatriots, please wake up! Our self-complacency is hurting us a great deal.

A recent survey shows that Hong Kong's position as the No 3 world financial center has been overtaken by Singapore. Hong Kong is ranked No 4 now. Another poll reveals that Hong Kong ranks bottom in a "smiling index" survey among the world's 61 countries and territories.

The number of tourists coming to Hong Kong in January and February fell 13.6 percent to 9.5 million from the first two months in 2015, the latest official figures show. The alarm bell is ringing loudly. We simply cannot ignore it. We have to wake up to the gravity of the situation.

Retail sales in the city in February plunged 21 percent to HK$37 billion from the same month in 2015, according to the latest official figures. The retail sales value in January dropped 6.6 percent from January 2015. More bad news is on the way, unfortunately.

Complacent attitudes will harm Hong Kong's future development

The Mong Kok riot in February resulted in more than 90 police officers and journalists receiving injuries. Scores of protesters were arrested and some are now being prosecuted.

About 90 percent of students attending taught master's degree programs in local universities come from the mainland. One of these programs in a government-funded university which I am involved with has experienced a 50 percent drop in the number of applicants this year. Some mainland students say they are worried about possible riots and the pro-independence movement in Hong Kong. Their parents would rather send them to study in the US or Europe.

The director of the master's degree program that I am involved in discussed this issue with his counterparts in similar programs offered by other universities. They all reported a decline in student applications from the mainland. He already warned part-time lecturers (myself included), unofficially, that they may lose their jobs if the total number of student enrollments drops in September, when the new academic year begins, from a year earlier. That means some teachers might not be able to put food on the table.

Higher education is only one small segment of the local employment scene. The retail business is falling largely due to the decline in visitors heading Hong Kong's way. If frontline sales people's attitudes remain smug and negative, the retail business may drop further, leading to more layoffs in the retail sector.

Hong Kong people must stop being self-righteous. We must have a sense of urgency. Legislators should stop filibustering and pass bills in the legislature to finance the construction of Hong Kong airport's third runway and the high-speed railway linking the city and the mainland. People in the tourism and retail businesses should smile more and treat customers better. Employers should try to discourage youngsters from job-hopping. If young people believe that it is easy to land a job, they will not cherish what they have got.

Hong Kong people are feeling unhappy partly because of a lackluster economy, falling property prices and a volatile stock market. It is no use crying over spilled milk. These negative things will eventually end. We all should have a positive attitude and hope for a better future for our city and ourselves. In the meantime we should stop being complacent and strive to improve our attitudes and service. Starting from today, we should smile more and treat tourists and customers better. A change in attitude will go a long way toward improving Hong Kong's future and our livelihoods. Let us abandon all previous unpleasant behavior, join hands and move forward.

(HK Edition 04/21/2016 page10)