Most Hong Kong people are probably looking forward to the end of a chaotic 2016 and hoping that the coming year will be a lot better, especially if we think that our city will have a new leader in July since Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has ruled out a second term in office.
But everyone should understand that all the chaos and uncertainties are coming from the north, from the Communist Party’s top leaders who want to tighten their grip on power and influence over Hong Kong.
How we wish Beijing will just give us a break and stop its political maneuverings in the territory.
Instead of politics, the government should focus on economic development, social welfare as well as housing issues to make Hong Kong a better place to live in.
That would be the best gift for Hong Kong people on the 20th anniversary of the establishment of special administrative region.
On Thursday, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, the biggest pro-Beijing political party, unveiled the word of the year for 2016.
“Chaos” was the top choice in a survey in which respondents were asked what was the most appropriate word to describe the year 2016 in Hong Kong. “Stability” was the second most popular choice.
More than 13,000 people participated in the survey, and they were given a choice of 10 words to describe the year about to pass in Hong Kong. The words included intelligence, innovation, opportunity and rationality.
Jasper Tsang Yok-sing, DAB founding chairman and former Legislative Council president, said it’s easy to see why the word “chaos” is the most popular choice.
“There seems to be too much confrontation between various sectors of the community, between the legislature and the government and even within the legislature among the various political groups,” he said.
Yes, there was chaos, and much of it was coming from tensions between Hong Kong people and central authorities, between Beijing loyalists and the pan-democratic camp, and such tensions have been escalating over the past 12 months as the CY Leung administration devised various ways and means to impose Beijing’s will on the people.
Social unrest worsened as Leung sought to implement “one country” policies to strengthen Beijing’s rule in the territory, thereby diminishing Hong Kong’s autonomy and uniqueness.
All these tensions are paving the way for a more chaotic 2017.
Localists appear to be shifting to a low profile – resorting to silence, in fact – after their spiritual leader Edward Leung decided to leave Hong Kong for a while to study abroad.
Several radical groups have also chosen to keep relatively quiet in recent months after the Legco election.
Still, the court’s move to disqualify Youngspiration’s Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus Leung from Legco and the government’s decision to challenge the legitimacy of four other pro-democracy lawmakers could trigger a new wave of protests among the youth.
Hong Kong people simply can’t understand why their directly elected representatives, who were able to secure more than 30,000 votes each, should face any question about the legitimacy of their office.
The next battle will be the Legco by-elections in the first half of 2017 to fill up the posts left by Yau and Leung’s disqualifications.
The by-elections, in fact, could turn into a referendum of Hong Kong government’s decision to disqualify localists from the legislative body.
It’s actually difficult to predict the by-election results as recent polls indicate that many Hong Kong people recognize their Chinese identity, which might mean that they won’t readily embrace localism after Beijing showed its disapproval of those seeking independence from China.
In fact, the by-elections may widen the fissures in society, as it is possible that the youngsters will continue to warm to the concept of Hong Kong independence while their elders accept Beijing’s sovereignty over the territory.
That could be a conflict between the so-called silent majority and the younger generation.
It is therefore incumbent upon the next chief executive to work for the return of a harmonious society, and one way of achieving that is by dropping the cases against the four pro-democracy lawmakers.
The biggest confrontation between the establishment and the pro-democracy groups is on March 26 next year, when the city’s next leader will be chosen through a small-circle election.
Currently, only lawmaker Regina Ip and former judge Woo Kwok-hing have declared their entry into the chief executive race, but Chief Secretary Carrie Lam and Financial Secretary John Tsang are widely expected to join the race soon.
Ip is unlikely to win the election because Beijing probably realizes that her role in promoting the national security legislation, which drew public indignation, turned her into a divisive figure, and as such, would not be a good leader as far as establishing a harmonious society is concerned.
Tsang enjoys wide support from the public, but Beijing doesn’t like his western style and former association with the colonial rulers.
Lam is fast emerging as the election frontrunner, even though she has yet to officially declare that he is running for the top job.
Still, the big question is what kind of Hong Kong the nation’s top leaders want for us. Do they want to give Hong Kong a break so it can focus on economic issues? Or do they want to pursue an iron-fist rule to ensure that the territory remains loyal to China?
With 2017 fast approaching, we hope Hong Kong will become a better place to live and work in, and Beijing will give us a break and stop engaging in political maneuverings.
Happy New Year!
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