The front page of today’s SCMP brought readers two landmark news items – Lawmakers approve Bill to overhaul electoral system and HK records zero new daily infections for the first time in seven months – franked by a third on resumption of talks between China and US which both sides hailed as “a step forward”. All three items are good news indeed, particularly the first two. The world and no doubt politicians in the West would continue to paint the development as proofs that China had successfully stifled freedom of expression in HK and SCMP wasted no time to say in its editorial that the government would need to convince opposition candidates to participate and voters to embrace the new arrangements, and went on to say that “much work remains to be done to sell the reforms and to persuade the community the elections will remain competitive and meaningful.” Such and similar views followed the vein of the statement by the British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab made in March 2021 following the changes approved by China’s NPC Standing Committee which culminated in the enactment of local legislation to ensure that Hong Kong would be governed by patriots. Raab had said that it was an age of shame and intimidation which was the latest step by Beijing to hollow out the space for democratic debate in Hong Kong, contrary to the promise made by China itself. Well, it doesn’t take a genius or history professor to prove Raab wrong and to show that it was UK and its successive governments that had prevented Hong Kong during the long years of governance from chances of democratic reforms and deprived its people of any form of democracy. But all this is now history, and as Hong Kong people, we owe it to ourselves to look forward.
I see clear blue sky ahead; and the new law passed in Legislative Council will offer a new beginning that would provide not only continuing economic and social stability, but would promote democratic reforms gradually and meaningfully that would suit Hong Kong’s conditions. This is what we need. Nothing else. We owe nobody to sell the reforms to anyone. Those who treasure the hard earned economic and social freedoms we had built up over the past decades, which were almost lost during the riots in 2019 and 2020, would understand and appreciate the need for the National Security laws China had created for Hong Kong and would embrace the new laws just enacted. As had been pointed out to Dominic Raab, he himself had to swear allegiance to the Queen before he could function as an MP in the House of Parliament. We may be sick and tired of the hypocrisies of politicians and the double standard of the West, but we must not lose heart in Hong Kong – I certainly won’t – a place so many of us have built up but which fact seemed to have been conveniently forgotten by many young people and perhaps their parents. I won’t waste time on these people. There will always be people leaving Hong Kong for whatever reasons; and time has proved time wrong; except that these people would never and are probably too ignorant to admit or realize their mistakes. We are seeing people leaving; and I won’t spend time talking to these people. Let them leave, the sooner the better. Hong Kong is too good and too beautiful for them.
The other news item on first record of zero new infections in seven months, coming as it did with the passage of the new laws, is indeed timely and bodes well to suggest that we may soon expect the possibility of opening up the borders, which would in turn re-open other economic and social activities which are hallmarks and characteristics of our once vibrant and thriving city. I can see businesses reviving and serious businessmen returning to Hong Kong, primarily not because they love us, but because they love the colour of the money they would make from doing businesses in Hong Kong.
As regards the long talked about trade war between US and China, it would go on for reasons beyond our control. But life would go on. Life must go on. I have been talking to my children since the mid-90s the possibilities of war between US and China and have asked them to prepare for themselves. They have since grown up and the only thing I can do is to continue to pray for them and for the world.
For now, I remain optimistic and I would stay this course and live each day happily, avoiding people who would make me unhappy.