Published: 01:57, April 28, 2020 | Updated: 03:33, June 6, 2023
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A question to antagonistic activists: Do you really love HK?
By Ho Lok-sang

I feel sad and exasperated whenever I hear Hong Kongers sing the song Let Light and Glory Shine on Hong Kong. Sad because while people are singing the song, light and glory are slipping away. Exasperated because there is not much I can do to help revive the light and glory that used to emit from this “Pearl of the Orient.”

Do you really love Hong Kong? I want to ask our young friends and legislators. I am sure their reply is a resounding “yes”.

But how will you love Hong Kong, which is your home? How would you love your family, if you really love your family?

Would you beat up your family members who disagree with you? Would you destroy the furnishings in your home, set fire to your house, plant bombs, just because you want others to conform with your views so you can get what you want?

I am puzzled because since June, so many of the young people in Hong Kong who claim that they love Hong Kong, and who claim they are fighting for Hong Kong’s future, have resorted to violent acts that have estranged Hong Kong from its glorious and prosperous past.

I was puzzled when I heard young people use the slogan “born in a tumultuous era, take up responsibility,” even though Hong Kong’s doing great, and the special administrative region government is serving Hong Kong well, compared with many, if not most, other jurisdictions.

Hong Kong has been rated very high in the World Justice Project rankings. Indeed, all the six governance indicators in World Banks’ Worldwide Governance Indicators indicate that Hong Kong has done very well since 1997, testifying to the success of “one country, two systems”. Hong Kong has an affordable healthcare system. We have the world’s longest life expectancy. Our public-housing and homeownership programs accommodate nearly half of all our households.

Would you beat up your family members who disagree with you? Would you destroy the furnishings in your home, set fire to your house, plant bombs, just because you want others to conform with your views so you can get what you want?

After the COVID-19 outbreak started, we have had a hard time because some members of the Hospital Authority Employees Alliance, a newly established trade union with a membership of 13,000, went on strike from Feb 3, and demanded that the SAR government impose “complete closure” of all control points to “save Hong Kong”.

The SAR government did not accede to their demands. But Hong Kong has not fallen. We have actually done superbly well. We are now close to the point when various measures to contain the epidemic, such as social distancing and suspension of services and some businesses, can be lifted. As of Monday, we have 1,037 COVID-19 cases, among which 787 patients have recovered, and four have died. This overall fatality rate of less than 0.4 percent is the envy of the world. With all the medical workers’ protest alleging inadequate protection gear, no medical worker has been infected.

Both the Hong Kong SAR and Macao SAR have done far better compared to the United States, and far better than any country in Europe. It is good to know that Taiwan has done very well too, with 429 infections and six deaths. But compared with Taiwan, Hong Kong is much more open to international travelers. Over 90 percent of the new cases in the past two weeks are imported, and most are Hong Konger returnees. The outstanding success of Hong Kong and Macao attests to the success of “one country, two systems”.

I must emphasize that Hong Kong’s successful containment of the outbreak was not due to the strike by medical workers, which has, instead of helping Hong Kong, delayed operations for patients who had been waiting for one. One patient actually suffered a loss of retina because of an operation delay due to the strike.

Because “the same cast of characters heavily involved in anti-government activism had spearheaded the strike”, it is apparent that anti-government politics were at work, and not love for Hong Kong.

It is exactly this anti-government struggle that is bedeviling our Legislative Council. Legislator Dennis Kwok Wing-hang presided over the meetings to elect a House Committee chairman, but after over six months and 16 meetings still failed to allow an election to take place. He and his “pan-democratic” filibusters apparently wanted to block what they deem to be “bad laws”. But what are the “bad laws” they wanted to block? The National Anthem Bill? Article 23 legislation? If they want these laws to be legislated “in the right way”, why not contribute what you can to help, instead of preventing legislation altogether? Shouldn’t the SAR’s legislators give due consideration to the need for the National Anthem Bill and national security laws?

When the SAR was established, Hong Kong people and the central government had a deal — a contract if you like. The central government promised to allow Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy; Hong Kongers promised to respect China’s sovereignty over Hong Kong and abide by the Basic Law. As a special administrative region of China that “comes directly under the Central People’s Government,” shouldn’t we do our part to promote the national interest? If we love Hong Kong, we should do what is necessary to ensure that “one country, two systems” will prevail. 

So I ask again: Do you love Hong Kong?

The author is a senior research fellow at Pan Sutong Shanghai-Hong Kong Economic Policy Research Institute. 

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.