Financial Secretary John Tsang called on people to set aside political differences and work together with patience and perseverance to the resolve the problems facing Hong Kong.
“For the problems of Hong Kong, they cannot be solved by anyone else except ourselves,” Tsang said in his budget speech at the Legislative Council.
“As long as everyone is willing to set aside short-term political considerations in favor of the long-term overall interests of Hong Kong, we shall have a chance to return to rationality,” he said on Wednesday, two weeks after violent clashes in Mong Kok between protestors and the police.
“Our problems are man-made, therefore they can be solved by men,” Tsang said.
After the “unlawful Occupy movement” in 2014 and the defeat of the constitutional reform package last year, “confrontations have not eased, and worse still, our society has become even more polarized,” Tsang said.
“I am deeply troubled by the current situation… If we should allow the situation to get worse, what lies in store for Hong Kong will be even greater chaos, and our future generations will grow up in the midst of hatred and malice.”
Tsang said he believes Hong Kong people have both the ability and the wisdom to cope with the current problems, given that the city has battled its way successfully through wars, poverty, epidemics, economic recessions and financial crises in the world.
“Looking back on the road that we have traveled, I believe I also believe that one day we can break the deadlock. When the storms are over, we shall cherish all the more the harmonious and cohesive society that we have restored.”
The finance chief said he was impressed with Hong Kong football team’s match against Qatar last year.
“We lost the match, but the never-say-die spirit that they exhibited won the hearts of our city. To Hong Kong, this match has taken on significance beyond victory and defeat. It has led me to believe that, with our love for Hong Kong, we are able to overcome any challenge ahead of us, no matter how difficult it is.”
Mong Kok unrest
In the introduction to the budget speech, Tsang said he, along with many Hong Kong people, feels distressed and angry about the recent “large-scale riot” in Mong Kok.
“I was perplexed as to why violence had flared in Hong Kong. I was shocked that our city could have turned overnight into such a strange and alien place that I hardly recognized. I was troubled why the core values that we long cherished had been devoured by violence and hatred.”
He said he anticipates that political disputes will only intensify over the coming months due to the Legislative Council elections in September.
“Acute social conflicts will add uncertainties to the already adverse economic environment… Politics and economics are closely intertwined. Political volatility will unavoidably impact on our economy,” Tsang said.
In other remarks, the financial secretary criticized the so-called localists for staging protests against mainland tourists last year.
He said a handful of people chose to express their views and political demands using irrational and uncivilized tactics, such as hurling abuse at visitors and kicking their suitcases.
“These destructive acts have not only damaged the economy, but have also severely tarnished Hong Kong’s reputation as a hospitality city internationally,” Tsang said.
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