A major shift in the political atmosphere has attracted the public’s attention. Luo Huining, the director of the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, visited “cage home” tenants and fishermen the day before National Day. The outreach visits to the most-deprived were the highest profile yet.
Local media extensively reported them the next day, making the top Beijing representative’s heartfelt message circulate near and far in the communities: “The central government cares about Hong Kong people. We are here to listen directly to your needs.” The central government’s commitment to improving livelihoods has already garnered residents’ applause.
Luo was not the only one who approached the grassroots. Senior officials of the Liaison Office — including deputy directors Chen Dong, Lu Xinning, Tan Tieniu, Luo Yonggang, He Jing and Yin Zonghua, as well as Secretary-General Wang Songmiao — spent their National Day holiday with those in need in various sectors across the city to extend their warm regards.
Such community outreach was not limited to the Beijing officials. Last month, candidates for the 1,500-member Election Committee — stakeholders in various industries, associations, and professions — braved the sweltering heat in the streets to set up stations for community services throughout Hong Kong. The message was loud and clear: Patriots are taking on the mission to improve the livelihoods of the people in Hong Kong. Billionaires, business magnates, presidents of associations, and the elites in various professional ladders were drenched in sweat, talking to the public, listening to their needs, and passing out flyers — what a sight to behold!
The momentum of reaching out to communities reached a crescendo in Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s Policy Address on Oct 6. In her annual address, Lam proudly announced that the government has earmarked 350 hectares of land in the northern New Territories for 330,000 public housing units over the next 10 years. This compares very favorably with the average of 15,000 new public housing units a year built during the past decade.
Lam also announced new initiatives and policies that coincided with the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) and Hong Kong’s new position in the country’s grand development program to fully tap the city’s financial potential. Lam also elaborated on plans to develop the SAR as a cultural and sports hub. There were policies for Hong Kong’s integration into the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and to facilitate the youth in Hong Kong to access the opportunities in education, careers, and business in the Greater Bay Area. The Policy Address, titled “New Era, New Opportunities”, offered the people in Hong Kong hope of a promising future.
By comparison, Lam’s 2019 Policy Address was treated with derogatory comments, screaming protests, placards, and nonsensical disruptions by so-called “pro-democracy” lawmakers, which resulted in the chief executive’s relocation to a secure place to complete her address. It was the defining moment of external forces having hijacked the Hong Kong political system, making it one of the darkest moments in the city’s history.
What were the driving forces behind the transformation of the political environment in Hong Kong? The two decisive factors are the central government’s determination to bring Hong Kong back on track through promulgation of the National Security Law for Hong Kong, and the full implementation of the principle of “patriots administering Hong Kong”.
Gone are the chaotic days when every policy or proposal was rejected in an uncivilized manner, regardless of the social benefits to our society. Gone are the disturbing years when filibustering was abused to bring social development to a halt, regardless of the collateral damage it would inflict. Gone is the “dark age” when preposterous proposals such as “Ten Steps to Mutual Destruction” were executed to wreck an entire city under the pretence of pursuing democracy while mainstream public opinion was blatantly disregarded.
Foreign media pointed out two “problems”, in an arrogant and imprudent manner, of “patriots administering Hong Kong”. First is that “patriots administering Hong Kong” would result in a system of a narrow political spectrum, in which the needs and requests of the grassroots would be ignored. Such an assertion could not be more wrong. What happened in recent months has shown that the needs and welfare of the grassroots have been carefully considered and become the top concern in government’s decision-making.
Second, Western critics assume that Hong Kong’s status as the freest and most competitive economy will be jeopardized by the enactment of the National Security Law. This is both illogical and hypocritical as some countries that preach freedom and democracy have national security legislation more draconian than that of Hong Kong.
The latest government report on Hong Kong’s business environment shows that the city remains one of the freest and most competitive in the world. The report, together with the new policies in the Policy Address, will attract an influx of Chinese mainland talent and generate exciting new opportunities for the Greater Bay Area. This will ensure that Hong Kong can stand tall as a competitive and highly lucrative marketplace for companies worldwide.
The SAR government, free from the opposition’s disturbances and foreign interference, is now able to focus on livelihood issues and commit to long-term plans to make Hong Kong a better place to live in. With support of the central government, patriots will secure Hong Kong a bright future. When patriots act, the world should take notice.
The author is a CPPCC National Committee member, an associate member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, and co-founder of the Hong Kong Coalition.
The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.
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