Time for the government leaders to wake up

August 06, 2019 10:12
Carrie Lam should summon up the courage to face the issues on hand, rather than allow a situation wherein young people and police officers find themselves constantly pitted against each other, observers say. Photo: AFP

Hong Kong is now in the midst of a political crisis of immense and unprecedented proportions.

Unfortunately, all the city's leaders did over the past few week was pretend as if everything was fine and that it was business as usual.

To them, “the show must go on”. It seems they couldn’t care less about the escalating protests, not to mention the non-cooperation movement that is often paralyzing the city’s rush-hour traffic. 

Isn't it time for the leaders to wake up?

In the study of political ethics, we often describe those who are willing to take political risks and assume additional responsibilities during a political crisis as “taking up the slack”.

On some occasions, there are social problems which are deemed too difficult or too sensitive to handle, and hence no one is willing to deal with them head-on.

When this happens, I believe every average individual in society has the responsibility to “take up the slack”, particularly when the personal freedoms and interests are being eroded by injustice.

It is something that all members of the public should do, and it is even more so for politicians and also absolutely must for the political leaders.

True, protesters may also need to make some “concessions” in order to achieve peaceful resolution of a crisis.

Nevertheless, as a person in charge of the welfare of 7.4 million citizens in the city, shouldn’t Chief Executive Carrie Lam at least summon up some courage to face the issues, rather than continue to push the young people and frontline police officers into the spiral of violence?

The full article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Aug 5

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Editor-in-Chief, Oxford Political Review