19 October 2018
Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam pitched the theme of 'a new beginning' in her policy address last month. Photo: CNSA
Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam pitched the theme of 'a new beginning' in her policy address last month. Photo: CNSA

De-politicalization is key for HK to open a new chapter

I am not sure whether it is just a coincidence or a pre-arranged thing, the National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) always takes place in the same year as our Chief Executive election.

This year, what was even more intriguingly coincidental was that the report delivered by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the 19th CPC National Congress emphasized the phrase “new era”, while Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor also pitched the theme of “a new beginning” in her policy address last month.

Lam’s ascent to power in July has undoubtedly marked the beginning of a new chapter in Hong Kong’s history. But the question now is this: is this new chapter going to be a new turning point, or just a continuation of the past?

Undeniably, a lot of the conflicts between Hong Kong and the mainland over the past 20 years had their roots not in ideological differences but rather, some very real everyday problems such as mainland pregnant women rushing to give birth in Hong Kong, the scramble for baby formula and school places, etc.

And these conflicts could have been avoided if the SAR government has truly fulfilled its role as a bridge between Hong Kong and Beijing like it has pledged to.

Likewise, as our new CE has brought back the former practice of delivering the policy address in October, both the public and lawmakers should have, and could have been, focused entirely on the policy initiatives she proposed, had it not been for the pro-establishment camp’s bid for amending the Legco Rules of Procedure under the pretext of banning filibustering and enhancing the efficiency of the legislature.

The truth, however, is that filibustering has remained the last resort for the pro-democracy camp to block problematic policy initiatives or bills proposed by the government, and what the pro-Beijing camp is doing is trying to take away this last remaining tool.

Beijing-Hong Kong ties and the relations between the pan-democratic and the pro-establishment camps in Legco might seem to be two completely irrelevant subjects at first glance. 

However, the two issues do in fact share the same nature, and the key to resolving the differences between Hong Kong and Beijing actually has to do with breaking the deadlock between the pan-democrats and the pro-Beijing camp in Legco, which calls for “de-politicalization”.

Simply put, if both our Beijing leaders and members of the pro-establishment camp can detach themselves from politics and stay focused more on the merits and demerits of the contents of policy initiatives in a professional manner, I am sure it can facilitate constructive interaction across the aisle in Legco and increase the room for manoeuver on both sides in dealing with sensitive issues in the days ahead.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Nov 3

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Legco member representing the Legal functional constituency (2012-2016) and a founding member of Civic Party

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