I don’t mean D & G which would have meant the Italian luxury fashion house founded in 1985 in Milan. I mean democracy and governance, a weighty and serious subject but unfortunately often taken to mean and being interpreted as politics. Indeed, politics has become so ubiquitous and one simply can’t get away from it. Nevertheless, I still have friends – I mean I see them often and eat and drink with them regularly – who would say without blinking their eyes that they are not into politics and that they don’t care about politics, which is odd in a way. Let me elaborate. To start with, politics can refer to a whole spectrum of activities or affairs, ranging from those of a government, a politician or a political party, to the fascinating and ever-changing interpersonal relationship between people or groups of people in a society, down to the relationship between two persons. It follows that unless a person chooses to live on his or her own without assistance or support from any other person or institution for a prolonged or indefinite period of time, and assuming that he or she manages to survive that period, he or she would be subject to politics, whether he or she likes or knows it or not.
Let me quickly declare that I was never a student in social sciences formally, even though I had been awarded a Masters of Social Science through my studies in Buddhism with HKU, but then the University decided to convert it to a Masters of Arts, for reasons probably related to politics. It means that what I say or am going to say about politics would not carry any weight if at all. I came to know HKU in 1966 as I remember that HKU started the Faculty of Social Sciences the following year. Their Department of Politics and Public Administration has been a keystone in the faculty and has produced many key figures in the local political scene. I had a HKU mentee who majored in Politics, but he dropped off my radar during the street riots in 2019, apparently because he was ostracized by his peers, or because he was unwilling or not too successful in dealing with the politics involved. For a long period, I couldn’t find him in the social media or WhatsApp. But Politics as a subject has continued to be popular University of Exeter, for example, has a BA Politics programme which is 8th in UK and top 100 for Politics in world subject rankings. My friends from Oxford often talk about their 3P’s which apparently refers to Policy, Politics and Public Administration or sometimes Psychology, depending on who is talking to whom.
Even as I am typing away aimlessly, I can’t stop thinking about a throwaway line from Professor Gabriel Leung at the 2021 Annual Performance of the University Philharmonic Orchestra (UPO) held last night at the City Hall Concert Hall. The young and gifted professor has been UPO’s Music Director and Principal Conductor for as long as it has been there, or for 22 years, principally because of his own endeavors, but the day before he dropped a bombshell announcing his resignation as HKU’s Dean of Medicine, a job he took up in 2013 when he was at the age of 40 or the second youngest in the history of the medical school. The Professor took advantage of a break when the crew was shifting the grand piano to make a little but witty speech. He began with a quip to a capacity audience to introduce himself – as if it was necessary – and to assure them that he was very much alive and kicking. For he was top news in the media since daybreak and many reports had so much details on his past so that he felt that he was reading his own obituary, as some readers might also get the feeling. He went on to say something which he must have found funny, but which could tread on some raw nerves, that whereas it took Jesus Christ three days to resurrect from death, it took him only one day. That was sheer politics. But politics apart, the Professor delivered a great concert last night and tried his best to appeal for funds to keep the UPO going for at least the next five years. He was pretty modest, asking for only half a million dollars. Then there was the politics between HKU and the HKU Students’ Union which could have precipitated in a name change for the group of young musicians. Who says there is no room for politics in a university!
Back to the very serious subject I announced that I would discuss in the beginning, I believe that every thriving and industrious community needs good and proper governance, but not necessarily democracy, as defined by what the media had described as Pan-Democrats during the chaos created in the Council Chamber not so long ago when it was almost impossible to pass any legislation and when the Chief Executive couldn’t even deliver her annual Policy Address. The Pan-Democrats had asked for the type of democracy championed by some foreign governments and politicians, which if allowed to carry the day, would guarantee chaos and pandemonium. Hong Kong is extremely lucky to have the full backing of an effective China to introduce legislation and legal means to right the wrongs and chaos generated with speed and efficacy. Look around the globe where similar types of chaos of different scales had taken place, the cities and sometimes countries involved never recovered, while some took a long time, if at all to get back on their feet.
Before China introduced national security laws to Hong Kong, many of us were worried that it would take at least a decade to restore law and order, if at all. Now, as if we had a magic wand, things are coming back to normal, notwithstanding what the foreign press and some foreign governments have been trying their very best to bad mouth Hong Kong, China and the governments. There is now hope for a new Legislative Council to be filled up by candidates interested in the future stability and prosperity of Hong Kong. The elections are only about three weeks away.
All these are serious issues and I would try to discuss them in my blogs in future.