Former HSBC chairman David Eldon said student protesters lack maturity and understanding of the world they will live in once they graduate.
“I am sure that students, at age 17, 18, 19 will believe that anyone over the age of 33 is already ancient,” Eldon wrote in a blog post.
“But in 33 years’ time when they are in their early 50s and hopefully still in the prime of their lives, the privileges that Hong Kong has largely enjoyed under ‘one country, two systems’ will be subsumed into ‘one country, one system’,” he said.
“And like it or not, from that moment on, what China says goes. And China has a long memory for names and faces.”
Eldon said the students have made their point and it is now time for others who also have rights to be allowed to get on with their lives.
“If the students’ real concern is about jobs, the cost of housing, and the environment – then I would more easily understand their frustration,” he said.
“But to hide under this notion that this is all about democracy and freedom – look around. As a letter in yesterday’s newspaper so correctly reminded us, even the admired [I think] British parliamentary system requires candidates to be vetted before they are put forward for possible election.”
Eldon was referring to an election reform package which gives a Beijing-backed nomination committee the right to pre-select the candidates in the 2017 chief executive election.
He praised the tolerance of the public and restraint by the police in handling the protesters, saying their use of tear gas and pepper spray cannot be compared with the brutal suppression of protests in most parts of the world.
Also, he said the students “seem to have set an example by way of being environmentally friendly [in general], and that together with the lack of roadside pollution means they have achieved more for the environment in a week than the Government has achieved in 20 years”.
Eldon dismissed critics who have written off Hong Kong.
“Frankly, no dynamic city in the world should ever be the same. Everywhere evolves, changes, moves one way or the other,” he said.
Elson weighed in on the controversy over a HK$50 million payout to Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying from an Australian engineering firm.
If Leung is forced to step down, it would be because of pressure from China, not from the student protesters, “which should see the temporary installation of an altogether more popular person in the shape of Carrie Lam”, he said.
Eldon retired in May 2005 after 37 years with HSBC Group. He was a senior adviser to PricewaterhouseCoopers in Hong Kong and China from September 2005 until June 2014, according to his website.
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