Time for a civics lesson?
I wonder if the Civic Party leaders have considered engaging a political
strategist to help them connect with the party's support base rather than do
things which are more likely to alienate it.
The party ought to be the natural home of the socially responsible
middle class. The well educated, the professionals, instinctively democratic
(with a small 'd'), relatively comfortably off themselves but with an awareness
of and concern for those less well off. The party for people with a keen sense
of right and wrong but who are rational and moderate in action.
The first doubtful move was of course setting sail with the League of
Social Democrats on the voyage to nowhere, the referendum that wasn't. It
was a schoolboy gesture and wiser counsel should have prevailed: one look at
the crew ought to have sounded the alarm. Of course the party's constituency
dutifully turned out to vote, but there were better ways of spending scarce
family time on a Sunday.
The second episode to leave a slight feeling of unease is the Judicial
Review over the Environmental Impact Assessment for the bridge to Macau/
Zhuhai. Leave aside the fact that the judge's ruling may well be wrong ("no
bridge" doesn't mean nothing changes, it just means growing volumes of
goods and people will have to move in other ways which might not be
predictable; how then could the environmental implications of the "no bridge"
scenario be compared with the "yes bridge" one?) and the Chief Executive was
definitely wrong to shoot from the hip in a way that cast doubt on his
commitment to upholding the rule of law.
Was a little old lady really looking for legal assistance or did an alert
party activist find a convenient hook upon which to hang a political coat? Was
there not a less disruptive way - a more professional way -- to clarify the issue?
And who is going to suffer most from the delay to this and other
projects? It's all very well for a few DAB loyalist workmen to march to protest,
but the impact will also be felt by the engineers and other professionals, in
other words, core Civic Party targets.
Also bubbling to the surface at the moment is a strident attack on
private sporting clubs, with the Civic Party if not actually leading the assault
certainly shouting the odds.
There have been calls for the facilities to be opened up to non-members
for extended periods, with few if any restrictions and all free of charge. And
the whole debate is taking place on the fringes of genuine concern about the
growing gap between the very rich and the very poor and some quite
shameless behaviour by certain property tycoons (as if these people were
members of the clubs concerned, which by and large they are not).
Can we start by dismissing the nonsensical claim that the sites occupied
by these clubs are "worth billions of dollars". They might be if the land were
zoned for residential or commercial use, but it isn't. Town planning restrictions
reserve the areas concerned for sports and recreation which means their
commercial value is negligible.
These are the clubs that have nurtured the development of so many
sports in Hong Kong. From where did we get our rugby team (and the world's
best Rugby 7s tournament)? Our cricket team (now, like rugby, also an
Olympics event)? The clubs have also contributed greatly to Hong Kong's
participation in other sports like squash, tennis, hockey, lawn bowls etc. Is all
this to count for nothing and be swept aside?
And what about the hundreds of millions of dollars invested in the
facilities by the members who also pay handsome fees monthly to cover
Now there is a good case for the facilities to be used more extensively in
off peak periods by other members of the community as a quid pro quo for use
of the land. The existing leases provide for this, but the quantum can be looked
at again. There is also a good case for information about these concessions to
be better publicized and for booking arrangements to be stream-lined.
By and large the members of the clubs are reasonable people and would
not object to this.
But to take the exercise further, as some of our populist politicians seem
to want to do, and open the doors to the public at large during peak periods
would not be reasonable.
It is time the Civic Party remembered which side of the political loaf its
electoral bread is buttered, and started to be the voice of moderation in this
Are you listening, Tanya? Sports club members are your natural
constituents. Stop pissing them off.