This month, I went to Tamar Park twice, and both times, I was deeply touched.
I think many people would be touched by the student movement, which has become the focus of world attention.
The movement says a lot about our city. I believe the world is impressed with how peaceful it has been (let’s hope it remains that way).
I am proud of the students for their persistence and I have respect for the tolerance demonstrated by our police.
As the movement carries into its 10th day, there are two things I would like to see in the next phase.
Firstly, I believe in dialogue. The student group and the government should sit down and talk and try to work out a solution.
Secondly, and more importantly, compromise. For the students, it is time to go back to school. Do your best, equip yourself and rise to more challenges. The movement, while peaceful, has upset many residents and businesses and it will seriously damage Hong Kong’s reputation if it goes on much longer.
These days, I always think about China because I go there almost every week. Last month, I was in Beijing and Shanghai, where I spend more time than I do in Hong Kong nowadays.
The more mainland people I talked to, the more I felt their happiness. I think I know the reason: the Chinese have the urge and the hope to change for the better, similar to what I saw in Hong Kong in the early days after I first arrived.
Hong Kong, sadly, is different now. People are not happy. Housing prices are at a historic high. There are never-ending debates and there is a failing democratic pursuit.
Words speak louder than actions. Magnifying all this is social media.
Having lived 47 years in this city I love, I figure the social sentiment is probably at its lowest. Worse still, Hong Kong people seem to be losing confidence in the future. Compared with mainlanders, they are much less optimistic.
Hong Kong Inc. cannot thrive if its workers feel low or discouraged.
But think about it: if all worked as one happy team, we’d make Hong Kong a much better place.
Let’s not forget we are, after all, a very competitive society.
We have an independent legal system that is internationally recognized, so is our status as a global financial center. This is why we are an important bridge between the world and mainland China.
The world is amazed at the pace of change in China, especially in its efforts to open up the economy and stamp out corruption. There can be no turning back.
This is why I think Hong Kong people should view these developments positively.
If we continue to have a negative mindset about China as we have these past two years, we could be sacrificing our competitiveness in the years ahead.
Let’s think about our young people who deserve a better future, and look beyond our fair city.
We may not produce the next Jack Ma or Pony Ma but we have had our own share of success stories.
And quite possibly, someone from Hong Kong who understands the Chinese market can be the next symbol of Hong Kong’s competitive spirit and entrepreneurship.
At the end of the day, Hong Kong will remain a great city in China, just like Beijing and Shanghai but with its own character.
I think that as long as we keep our identity and world reputation, we will continue to be an awesome and admirable society.
Honestly, I almost never come across anyone who does not like Hong Kong (admittedly, except the air pollution). More often than not, they fall in love with our city for its vibrancy and can-do spirit rooted in its DNA.
I love Hong Kong. I love it even more now. I hope you do, too.
Allan Zeman, Chairman of Lan Kwai Fong Group
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