At first glance, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Yuet-ngor’s initiative to open up dialogue with members of the public might appear to be a goodwill gesture aimed at alleviating the ongoing tensions in society.
The problem is, in practice, the dialogue will only remain a superficial and shallow exercise that can hardly de-escalate the situation if authorities can’t respond to the demands of protesters, address public grievances against the series of governance mistakes made by the administration, and resolve a number of deep-seated issues pertaining to justice and the political system.
In other words, dialogue alone, in the current form, may not be enough to resolve the most urgent and important problems facing the city.
Moreover, since there are too many issues involved in the current political storm, such as the administration’s governance mistakes and public skepticism about the basic political system, not to mention the escalating confrontations between the police and the public, it is absolutely necessary for the government to establish an independent inquiry commission to look into the recent events.
Apart from establishing the truth, the independent inquiry can make constructive recommendations for improving governance and civic engagement in Hong Kong, so as to allow the society to make a fresh start.
To keep the “one country, two systems” functioning properly in the city, it will not only take “forgiveness” or “love”, but also respect among members of the society for the common good and political rights of all Hongkongers.
A dialogue is doomed to failure if stakeholders taking part in the talks stubbornly stick to their stance and refuse to budge an inch.
Last but not least, in order to find a way out of the current woes, the decision-makers must not only talk the talk, they should also have the most basic integrity to deliver on their promises.
The dialogue should represent the beginning of a new chapter rather than the endgame.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Aug 26
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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