21 October 2016
An influx of mainland visitors may be one of the sources of frustration of Hong Kong people but that should not result in a divided society, says Tim I Gurung. Photo: HKEJ
An influx of mainland visitors may be one of the sources of frustration of Hong Kong people but that should not result in a divided society, says Tim I Gurung. Photo: HKEJ

A divided society is no good for Hong Kong, says writer

The political polarization seen in the past few years is no good for Hong Kong as it hinders society’s progress, said Tim I Gurung, a Nepal-born writer in Hong Kong.

“Hong Kong has seen many social and political changes since 1980s, which have been affecting people’s livelihood a great deal,” Gurung told EJ Insight in an interview.

“Hong Kong people are more politically involved now and want to have a say on government policies. They are speaking out louder with their grievances and they could be heard from every stratum of our society.

“However, such a trend may have polarized society as people are sometimes forced to choose sides.”

The influx of mainland Chinese visitors and their conflicts with local residents could be one of the main reasons for such polarization, he said.

“The influx of mainlanders has created insecurity amongst citizens and their hoarding mentality as displayed in hospitals, supermarkets, public places and so on don’t help much.

“The city is getting very crowded and noisy while public facilities and places always have long queues. Etiquette is almost forgotten.

“Society has seen so much hatred in recent years. The roots of the problem can be many but, fairly or unfairly, they all point to the mainlanders.”

Due to the growing rift between locals and mainlanders, new groups were formed to protect their respective interests, and that created hatred within society, he said, adding that such development may not be good for the city in long run.

Umbrella Movement  

Gurung, who migrated to Hong Kong in 1980, said the Umbrella Movement is a successful social movement that allowed Hongkongers to speak up for their rights, for democracy as well as freedom of speech and the press. 

“I was quite surprised that it did actually happen in Hong Kong. I think it was quite a successful movement for all, but had it been well organized, it could have done a lot better,” he said.

“There was no clear and charismatic leader who could garner respect, provide clear ideology and practical roadmaps to unite all participants. Somehow, different groups were doing things in their own different ways.

“As the old saying goes, ‘too many chefs can ruin the broth’, and that’s exactly what happened here,” he said.

“The next challenge is how to move from here, although nobody seems to know that for sure, at least for now.”

Hong Kong as a world city

Gurung said there are a lot of things that Hong Kong people and the government can do to maintain Hong Kong’s reputation as an international city, instead of becoming one of the mainland Chinese cities.

Hong Kong is blessed with a vibrant and diversified society with various ethnicities of people. It still has one of the best civil servants, disciplined services and public transportation systems in the world. We just have to prevent these from worsening.

“We should protect our way of life. Freedom of speech, press and humans rights have to be protected, each and every group of people including ethnic minorities have to be included in policy making. Minority and less privileged groups should be protected by relevant parties.”

To achieve all these, the government should be more open and less bureaucratic while creating opportunities for all, he said.

“Nepotism, favoritism and cronyism should never find position in our governing system.”

“Most importantly, the core values that help identify us as Hongkongers should never be abandoned and we should keep on trying our best for a very long time.”

Gurung has recently published his seventh epic novel, Old Men Don’t Cry: A Hong Kong Tale of Sorrow, which draws from his experience and struggles in the city.

The book chronicles life in Hong Kong from 1980 to 2014. 

He is dedicating his book to Hong Kong, which he and his family now call home. 

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Hong Kong people should protect their way of life and strengthen their self identity, says Gurung, who has recently published his seventh epic novel. Photo: AFP

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