Date
19 September 2017
Frederick Ma says it takes someone like former governor Murray MacLehose (inset) to resolve Hong Kong's social problems. Photo: HKEJ
Frederick Ma says it takes someone like former governor Murray MacLehose (inset) to resolve Hong Kong's social problems. Photo: HKEJ

Frederick Ma: Hong Kong needs another MacLehose

Hong Kong needs someone like the late Hong Kong governor Murray MacLehose to turn conflicts into opportunities, according to a former senior government official.

MacLehose began his term in 1971, four years after leftist rioting rocked Hong Kong.

He lost no time rolling out policies that led to socialized housing and the establishment of an anti-corruption watchdog, former commerce secretary Frederick Ma told the Hong Kong Economic Journal.

Ma said MacLehose established communication lines with university students including himself and Anna Wu Hung-yuk, an unofficial member of the Executive Council.

“It takes someone who knows how to rule to turn crisis into opportunity,” Ma said.

He said students who are driving the ongoing pro-democracy protests have contributed their part to the fight for genuine universal suffrage.  

It’s time to get back to reality and make some constructive moves, he said.

“Universal suffrage is an opportunity today but I wish everyone could focus on the big picture.”

Ma said it’s doubtful China will change its mind about an election reform proposal for the 2017 chief executive election and lamented the pan-democrats’ hard line.

The Occupy Central movement of civil disobedience has created social conflict reminiscent of the situation in the late 1960s that led to the deadly rioting, he said.

The movement helped inspire students to take to the streets where they have been holding sit-ins for nearly two months.

Ma said it may be too late for Leung Chun-ying’s government to hold further talks with student leaders who might see these as an empty gesture after earlier negotiations broke off without progress.

He warned Hong Kong could turn into a dangerous place in 20 years if young people continue to be disaffected with their government.

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VW/JP/RA

Freelance journalist

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