Resolute Hong Kong

It’s the time of year for making resolutions, promises to guide behaviour during the next 12 months to improve ourselves. Before I make another set for myself, I thought I would make resolutions for 2018 for all the parties shaping life in the Hong Kong community.

We should start with the Central People’s Government and its representatives here in the SAR, especially bearing in mind the recent emphasis on comprehensive jurisdiction. Resolution number one should be to have confidence in the local administration which you have just appointed, and in the common sense of the Hong Kong people. We know and accept that we are part of China and independence is a complete non-starter, just let us get on with the “Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong” part. This leads directly to resolution number two: refrain from trying to micromanage the city and commenting publically on every issue however trivial. The correct answer to most media enquiries in the next 12 months will be “We have every confidence that the SAR government will handle this issue competently”.

Now for the powers that be in Tamar. Resolution one should be to show the people of Hong Kong that you are always on their side, and that includes willingness to take on vested interests where the public interest requires. The long delay in reforming the Medical Council was outrageous. The refusal to take on the taxi cartel amounts to abdication. Most urgent of all, the government has to demonstrate that it is not in hock to the Heung Yee Kuk or the property developers. All the land in Hong Kong belongs to the state – it says so in the Basic Law. Power to manage those assets on behalf of the CPG has been delegated to you – it says that in the Basic Law too. Manage the rural areas in the best interests of ALL the people of Hong Kong, not just a privileged few. Send the Small House Policy to join the dodo. Call an immediate halt to the construction and sale of micro flats. These are damaging to the physical and psychological health of their occupants, and send a message to the wider community that you will not protect them if money is involved. Set a minimum size of apartment (say 500 square feet) and to hell with the Real Estate Developers Association.

Resolution number two, learn how to handle the CPG more skilfully. As we know from experience, it is no use confronting the officials directly, it just gets up their nose and makes them say silly things (everyone at the races has to stand for the national anthem? Like that’s going to happen).

Now for the pan democrats: resolution number one, stop calling yourself the opposition and stop acting as if you are one. Your job is to monitor the administration and make our laws better. You could start by drafting legislation to cover some of the aspects of Article 23 with all the safeguards customary in a free society. Number two: be much more selective in choice of items where you do oppose the government. Filibustering everything, which has seemed for several years now to be your default policy position, just annoys people, obstructs public business, and makes you look like a bunch of yobboes. Save your energy, save the big guns, for really important issues like the highly dubious circumstances surrounding the visit to the mainland by Lee Bo, or, even more scary, the de facto abduction from a Central five-star hotel of a mainland businessman. These two cases were extremely serious, and fully merit the sternest response. After all, if we are not safe in our own home, it means we are not safe anywhere.

The resolution for the media is to stop trivialising everything and exercise some judgement. If a political figure of any age talks nonsense, call him out on it! Don’t just write it down and then put to someone else for a response. That’s not journalism, untrained monkeys could do it.

The resolution for Joshua Wong and friends is simple: see if you can go a whole calendar month without appearing on TV or being quoted in the print media. You have made a useful contribution to society up to now, but you have to accept you are not the font of all wisdom on all things. It may be tough, but give it a try and give us all a break.

The final resolution is for my fellow citizens: we should have confidence in ourselves. Hong Kong is a terrific city which is safe, efficient, and provides a decent standard of living for the majority of its inhabitants. There are areas where we need to improve and we should focus on these. The future is in our own hands. We should stop worrying about 2047 – the Basic Law doesn’t even mention that date. The society we create and pass on to our children and grandchildren depends on what we do every day from now on. Let’s all make it the best we possibly can.

By the end of this year my age will be 70 years. It would be nice if my weight were 70 kilos. And that’s my resolution.

Mike Rowse