CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 13 October 2018

Print Version    Email to Friend
Twenty-one years after the handover

THIS JULY 1 we mark the 21st anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty. However for many, the recent state of affairs may seem depressing. In addition to the long-running housing problem and the recent spate of scandals involving shoddy work at various MTR projects, there is no sign of improved services for the elderly, or of the retirement protection schemes that have been discussed for many years.
 
There is also growing concern that the principle of One country, two systems is becoming mere idle talk and that Hong Kong is losing touch with its core values and cosmopolitan outlook.
 
For more than a decade, people have taken peacefully to the streets on July 1 to express their hopes, aspirations and frustrations. Recently, however, there have been moves to impede the annual march and even some calls for it to be banned because it supposedly violates the law and the constitution. Such pronouncements invariably ignore the law and stand at odds with the values held by the people of Hong Kong. People are free to disagree and not participate, however they should not exaggerate matters in order to suppress peaceful protest.
 
The right of people to demonstrate is recognised by international human rights treaties. If the July 1 march is hampered or banned, it will stir up worries over the erosion of the freedoms and rights of the people of Hong Kong.
 
The Public Opinion Programme (POP) of The University of Hong Kong released the Public Perception Survey on Hong Kong's Characteristics at the end of May. The findings show that the public considers "freedom (including freedom of expression)" and "rule of law/judiciary system/judiciary independence/law" as the most valuable characteristics of Hong Kong. Also at the end of May, POP released another survey on trust and confidence indicators which shows that net confidence in One country, two systems has dropped to a record low since September 2014. 
 
What how about young people? Breakthrough, an organisation focussed on youth work, released its findings on the Political Views and Values of Teenagers. Half of the post-secondary students interviewed considered themselves "moderate localists" who support the idea that Hong Kong people should enjoy priority and a high degree of autonomy, while 76 per cent of pursue non-materialistic satisfaction. The survey also indicated that over 60 per cent agree with the implementation of justice through law.
 
In his book, God Is Young, Thomas Leoncini, a young Italian journalist, addresses the situation of young people, writing, "Young people are obviously growing up in an uprooted society. While this society makes them feel useless, it also makes use of their influence on the market and then leaves them to run their own course… Adults should ask themselves what kind of world they are creating for young people.” It is evident that despite various circumstances in different parts of the world, young people are facing somewhat similar problems.
 
There are 29 years left to idea of Hong Kong “remaining unchanged for 50 years” as embodied by One country, two systems.  The generation which witnessed the signing of the Sino-British Joint Declaration in 1984 and the return of Hong Kong to China in 1997, is now middle-aged or older. In recent years, it is young people who have played a key role in protecting the core values of Hong Kong in deed and word.
 
In the foreword of the DOCAT, the adaptation of the social doctrine of the Church, Pope Francis writes, "If a Christian in these days looks away from the need of the poorest of the poor, then in reality he is not Christian." He invites every Christian—especially young people—to actively participate in society, to fight for justice and human dignity.
 
It is because people love Hong Kong that they are willing to express their expectations and hope that government policies can meet the common good. SE