The official launch of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region’s Legislative Council in the new year, after its rebirth in the Dec 19 election, is pointing to a renewal of Hong Kong as a whole, literally. As new lawmakers took their oaths on Jan 3 and Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen was elected as LegCo president on Jan 4, the HKSAR is on its way to reshaping its political landscape and improving its ecology. The newly elected councilors, with either outstanding political backgrounds or professional caliber, are expected to prove their worth by demonstrating their capability and prowess, bringing the SAR’s governance back on track.
First and foremost, it is a LegCo of patriots, with every contender having been vetted by the Candidate Eligibility Review Committee. The all-patriot LegCo is bound to give rise to a new set of protocols for debating and deliberating in the chamber of LegCo, allowing the return of a normal legislative process, or a productive process underpinned by civilized discussion and exchange among the members — a departure from the recent past.
The normalized legislative process reflects the “paradigm shift” in the special administrative region’s political landscape, with its focus shifting from political bickering to economic development for a better place to live. Under such a scenario, the SAR government’s top priority is to home in on its governance, putting into full use its resources and ingenuity in solving the city’s thorny, chronic social problems, with the aid of a productive and constructive LegCo.
The new legislature filled with patriots heralds a healthy political atmosphere conducive to facilitating tangible socioeconomic development to the city
Ever since Hong Kong’s electoral system was revamped, some biased Western politicians and media outlets have been indulging themselves with a relentless propaganda campaign against the new electoral system, vilifying the new system with the ultimate aim of stoking resentment among the public in Hong Kong and thus foiling the Dec 19 LegCo election. The China-bashers, here in Hong Kong and elsewhere, have been in full gear attacking the vetting mechanism of the new electoral system. For example, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss parroted the accusation of an “erosion of liberty in Hong Kong”, days before the election day. They conveniently ignored the fact that the new electoral system affords great political inclusiveness and diversity, with the vetting mechanism only targeting the subversives, as has been convincingly evidenced by the diverse mix of candidates as well as the lawmakers-elect.
The self-proclaimed “democracy fighters” in Hong Kong have only themselves to blame for having been irrelevant to the Dec 19 LegCo election. For example, the Democratic Party, one of the biggest political parties in the SAR, has chosen to lock itself in a mental cocoon from the very beginning. Its chairman, Lo Kin-hei, has stubbornly kept his stance of boycotting “the sham election”, and even blocked his fellow party members from running in the election, reducing his party to sour-grapes onlookers! Mired in his obsession with Western-style democracy, Lo has dealt a fatal blow to the Democratic Party with his poor leadership, and exerted a negative influence on the traditional “pro-democracy” camp. Had the Democratic Party taken the lead and participated in the election, the party and its political allies might have won as many as 15 seats. Their political turf might be well preserved under the new electoral system, with the volume of their voices remaining unchanged. Unfortunately, the Democratic Party under Lo’s leadership chose to move toward political irrelevance or nonexistence. They are doomed to be washed out, not by the revamped electoral system, but by themselves.
It can be postulated that such a politically “suicidal” decision, stupid as it appeared to be, was the brainchild of Washington, rather than an original idea of a political greenhorn like Lo, who was just doing Washington’s bidding with gusto. There was a time when the proxies of the Western forces, including Lo and criminal fugitive Nathan Law Kwun-chung, who had just awkwardly performed a political stunt at the “Summit for Democracy”, succeeded in derailing democratic development in Hong Kong. Washington, after announcing its support for the decision of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress in 2014 on universal suffrage for Hong Kong, took a U-turn during the outbreak of the civil unrest in 2019. Some leading political figures on Capitol Hill, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, made a series of political blunders in their attempt to stoke the 2019 “black-clad” unrest in Hong Kong, probably in the hope of turning it into a full-fledged “color revolution”.
Those biased Western politicians seem to have taken it for granted that democracy cannot be achieved in Hong Kong without those self-proclaimed “democratic fighters” like Lo. I cannot imagine that any right-thinking individual would have subscribed to such an illogical, presumptuous assertion. Common sense tells us that no democracy can be achieved without solid steps toward socioeconomic progress.
The new legislature filled with patriots heralds a healthy political atmosphere conducive to facilitating tangible socioeconomic development to the city embattled by many deep-seated problems such as those of subdivided flats, a housing shortage and a wealth gap. Early in December, the SAR government released its latest “Long Term Housing Strategy” annual progress report, which is said to be concerned by the lack of determination to increase the number of new housing units. The strategy aroused fierce debates in the community on the potential ways to reduce, and eventually eliminate, the unhygienic pathetic-looking subdivided flats in the market. Many contenders in the Dec 19 election had listed the housing problems as one of the top priorities on their election platforms and explained their proposed solutions during their election canvassing, with some rightly pointing out that a close rapport between the new legislation and the executive branch would go a long way to solve, or at least alleviate, those chronic problems.
The SAR government has also put the issues of livelihood at the top of its agenda in line with the central authorities’ high expectation for it serving the public interest to their best. Thanks to the plethora of sensible local news coverage, the malicious, politically motivated attacks and machinations against Beijing and the HKSAR government have increasingly lost their traction as residents increasingly realize that Hong Kong has no future if it keeps indulging in political bickering as was the case over recent years. All in all, the new legislature, coupled with the improving overall political atmosphere in Hong Kong society, heralds the disappearance of the once-commonplace tug of war in the legislative chamber; LegCo will be a troubleshooter from now on, departing from its recent past as a troublemaker in Hong Kong.
The author is president of Hong Kong think tank the Golden Mean Institute.
The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.