The swearing in of the seventh-term Legislative Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in the new year, after its rebirth in the Dec 19 election, is pointing to a renewal of Hong Kong as a whole.
As new lawmakers took their oath of office on Jan 3 — some holding a Bible — and candidates for the council’s presidency filed on Jan 4, the SAR was on its way to reshaping its political landscape and improving both its governing ecology and people’s livelihood.
The newly elected councilors, who have either outstanding political backgrounds or professional caliber, are expected to prove their worth by demonstrating their capability and prowess in bringing the SAR’s governance back on track.
First and foremost, it is a Legislative Council of patriots, with every contender having been vetted by the Candidate Eligibility Review Committee. The all-patriot Legislative Council is bound to give rise to a new set of protocols for debating and deliberating in the council chamber. This will allow the return of a normal legislative process, or a productive process underpinned by civilized discussion and exchange among members — a departure from the recent past.
The normalized legislative process reflects the paradigm shift in the SAR’s political landscape, with its focus shifting from political bickering to economic development for a better place to live in. Under the new scenario, the SAR government’s top priority is to hone 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 Legislative Council.
Ever since Hong Kong’s electoral system was revamped, some biased Western politicians and media outlets have been indulging in 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.
The China bashers conveniently ignored the fact that the new electoral system affords great political inclusiveness and diversity, with the vetting mechanism only targeting subversives, as has been convincingly evidenced by the diverse mix of candidates as well as the newly elected councilors.
The self-proclaimed “democracy fighters” in Hong Kong have only themselves to blame for having been irrelevant to the Dec 19 Legislative Council 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. Had it taken the lead and participated in the election, the party and its political allies might have won as many as 15 seats. Unfortunately, its decision-makers chose to move toward political irrelevance or nonexistence, likely to be washed out, not by the revamped electoral system but by themselves.
It can be postulated that such apolitically “suicidal” decision was the brainchild of Washington, which announced support for the decision of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress in 2014 on universal suffrage for Hong Kong but took a U-turn at the outburst of violence in the name of opposing the government’s since-withdrawn extradition bill 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” civil 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 the self-proclaimed “democratic fighters”. 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 in the city, which has faced many deep-seated problems, such as a housing shortage and wealth gap.
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 serving the public interest. Thanks to the abundance of sensible local news coverage, the malicious, politically motivated attacks and machinations against Beijing and the HKSAR government have lost their traction. 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. The Legislative Council will be a troubleshooter from now on, departing from its recent past as a troublemaker in Hong Kong.
The author is president of the Golden Mean Institute, a Hong Kong think tank.
The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.