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Published: 00:24, November 18, 2021 | Updated: 15:53, November 19, 2021
Election presents opportunity for SAR to refocus on development
By Kevin Lau
Published:00:24, November 18, 2021 Updated:15:53, November 19, 2021 By Kevin Lau

Kevin Lau says residents must capitalize on new political environment to initiate positive changes.

In about a month’s time, voters will go to the ballot stations to return their representatives to the Legislative Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. This will set Hong Kong on the right track of “one country, two systems” and be a chance for “Asia’s world city” to thrive again. Noting the challenges the city is facing on many fronts, this is going to be an important milestone in the improvement of Hong Kong’s governance to be remembered.

Conceivably, the coming election will facilitate a sea change in the special administrative region’s political environment, which had once deteriorated to a very bad state. The opposition had been uncooperative and disruptive in conducting LegCo business. Its unchecked and indiscriminate abuse of procedural matters, such as filibustering and quorum calling, had paralyzed LegCo many times, making it impossible to work on even livelihood matters that were crucial to the community. Readers would recall the infamous yearlong gridlock over the chairmanship election of the LegCo House Committee. Service at LegCo was back then considered unproductive by many people of high caliber and capability. 

Hong Kong has lost 20-odd years in political disputes that have unnecessarily hindered development in many areas. ... It is high time for us to capitalize on the new environment created by the National Security Law and improved electoral system and come together with concerted efforts to bring positive changes to our hometown

The situation was no better outside the legislature chamber. Starting from the illegal “Occupy Central” movement of 2014, it was quite a common habit of the wayward netizens to dox, bully, spread fake or unverified information about, and make irrational comments regarding public figures, especially those active in the political and public service, on an anonymous basis on social media. The situation further worsened in 2019 during the anti-extradition riots. Such behavior seriously dampened the morale of our public servants and also affected their family members (sometimes even young children and teenagers) and friends. The very undesirable effect of such a political environment had deterred capable, competent and dedicated people from serving the community in public office.

The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress promulgated the National Security Law for Hong Kong in June 2020, which helped curb the worsening situation. And the National People’s Congress further made a decision to improve Hong Kong’s electoral system with a view to ensure patriots administering Hong Kong according to the true spirit of “Hong Kong people running Hong Kong” and the SAR’s “high degree of autonomy”. The LegCo election will be held against such a background and will give Hong Kong a refreshed legislature free of disruptive and irrational behavior from the anti-China disruptive elements.

The nomination period for candidatures has just ended and a total number of 154 candidates are running for the 90 (expanded from 70) seats representing different constituencies. Against all skeptics’ predictions, there will be robust competition in the election, with every constituency being contested — for the first time in Hong Kong’s history. Even though there is still another month to go before we know exactly who will be serving as our legislators in the next four years, there are already signs for us to be optimistic that the new legislature will be one representing Hong Kong’s best overall interests.

Foremost, we have seen the emergence of many new faces, who are candidates of quality, dedication and ability. Obviously, they have been encouraged to seek a more-active role in the administration of our city following the central authorities’ decisive actions in curbing Hong Kong’s chaotic situation in the previous two years. Many of them are successful people who excel in their respective professional domains. There are businessmen, lawyers, medical practitioners, engineers, town planners, and the list goes on and on among the candidates. Their presence in the LegCo chamber, bringing with them their professional expertise, will be a great addition to the quality of deliberation of policy and legislative matters. It is of particular importance when Hong Kong is at a time urgently in need of practicable solutions to many deep-rooted problems bothering society. The executive branch will benefit from their wisdom, knowledge and insights.

Another characteristic of the coming election is seeing a lot of experienced and seasoned community leaders joining the race. They either had served in a District Council for many terms, or were officials of community organizations, or are ordinary people taking time out of their own busy lives to serve their neighbors. I have come to know many of them in my various capacities in public service. I can testify that these are pragmatic and results-oriented people who have selfless dedication in serving their neighborhoods. No one could cast doubt on their good and long records of excellent services. To be very honest, it would not be a surprise that they did not come forward for answering a higher call only because of the political turmoil created by the political radicals. With their wealth of experience and knowledge in local matters, we can be sure that the deliberations at LegCo will be more down-to-earth and closer to the day-to-day lives of the general public. And they could also be good spokespeople for the executive branch in promoting and explaining government policies and initiatives. This is a good two-way communication and will create a better relationship between the government and the ordinary people.

For a very long time, elections in Hong Kong have been oversimplified as a choice between two political ideologies. Instead of putting forward constructive and meaningful platforms on matters of importance to the community, the anti-China disruptive elements had been playing such tricks and chanting slogans to stir up the voters’ sentiments against the government in order to gain political benefits. The situation has improved a lot in the coming election. Unlike critics’ comments that it would be an election with no competition, I would say it is no longer a bipolar duel between two camps. These elections are to be a selection among patriots who have different ideas about the running of Hong Kong. Reading some of the candidates’ agendas and platforms, which are of visions and quality, we can see that they share one common theme — the long-term benefits of Hong Kong — and yet are different in implementation details. Voters can have a real choice of what is, in their opinion, good for the governance of the city. This is a manifestation of true democratic value that Hong Kong people should be proud of.

Hong Kong has lost 20-odd years in political disputes that have unnecessarily hindered development in many areas. We have missed the opportunity of advancing our economy riding on the motherland’s rapid economic growth in the past decades.We have neglected the housing, transportation, medical and education needs of our community, leading to a lot of discontent among different sectors. It is high time for us to capitalize on the new environment created by the National Security Law and improved electoral system and come together with concerted efforts to bring positive changes to our hometown.

The coming election will be the first step for the city to move on. Cast your vote and select a representative who best represents you!

The author is a radiologist and non-official member of the Commission on Poverty in Hong Kong.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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