Time for a new approach to ease the crisis

December 27, 2019 10:51
With the months-long unprecedented protests, Hong Kong people have shown that their concerns go beyond economic and livelihood issues. Photo: Reuters

The events of the past six months have made it amply clear that Hong Kong people aren't politically apathetic anymore. The record-breaking voter turnout in the recent District Council election was an unmistakable proof of the changing sentiment.

According to the latest survey carried out by the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute (PORI), Hong Kong people have not only stopped being uninterested in politics, they are getting increasingly concerned about public affairs.

Between December 13 and 18, PORI interviewed around 1,000 randomly chosen citizens, of whom 41 percent said they are most concerned about livelihood issues, and 40 percent about political issues. Only 16 percent claimed they care about economic issues most.

Compared to the same poll last year, the number of people who prioritized livelihood issues has fallen by 25 percent, while the number of those who care about political issues soared 27 percent, hitting a high since 1992.

The findings indicate that Hong Kong is no longer the same commercial city we used to know where political issues always took a backseat to economic development.

As such, if the SAR government continues to rely solely on the police to quell violence, there will simply be no end in sight for our current woes.

It is because at the end of the day, political problems must be, and can only be, resolved by political means.

As far as the “iron-fist” crackdown by the police is concerned, it will at best serve as a quick fix, and won’t be able to get to the root of the underlying social conflicts.

Worse still, such approach could further exacerbate the ongoing confrontations between the government and the public.

The administration must re-open sincere dialogue with the citizens, and should also perhaps consider a proposal put forward by former Legco president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing to grant arrested protesters “conditional pardons” as a means to ease the ongoing tension.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Dec 24

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Hong Kong Economic Journal