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Core values of Hong Kong

Since the handover of Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty 15 years ago, the economic and political situations have undergone tremendous change.

Nevertheless, people have continued to upholding such core values as freedom of speech, human rights, rule of law, democracy, equality, peace, charity, integrity, transparency and professionalism.

While these are factors Hong Kong people take pride in, as they give stability to the city, they are also the spiritual values that maintain the principle of one country, two systems and a high degree of autonomy.

In 1997, Hong Kong became a special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China. Its people not only witnessed the handover, but played a leading role in it. However, in the intervening years, the dual universal suffrage stipulated in the Basic Law has not been realised and we are only inching along a path towards democracy.

This year, July 1 sees a leadership change with both the outgoing and incoming chief executives at rock bottom in the opinion polls. In addition, recent scandals in China involving Bo Xilai, Chen Guangcheng and Li Wangyang have dented local confidence in Beijing.

In the past 15 years, although the region has coped with a financial crisis, a SARS epidemic and other unrest, ordinary people are still suffering from high inflation and excessively high property prices.

Housing, medical care, food, transport and education are also worrying. Areas of big business have exacerbated people’s grievances by ignoring their social responsibilities, leading to social disharmony.

The gap between rich and poor is widening and the quality of livelihood diminishing. According to government statistics, the income gap between rich and poor families is at a ratio of 45 to one and the latest Gini Coefficient Index shows that it is at its widest since the handover in 1997.

The Hong Kong Council of Social Service estimates that the number of people living in poverty now exceeds 1.2 million, with elderly people and children hit hardest.

Last year, Transparency International listed Hong Kong as number 12 on its clean list of over a 100 countries and territories, but recent antics of some high-ranking government officials are threatening the integrity of our society.

Core values have become shaky, threatening social cohesion and the legitimacy of the social system.

In February, the diocese issued a document entitled, Some Expectations about the Future SAR Government Envisioned by the Catholic Church in Hong Kong.

The document discusses political and social development, and reminds the government of the importance of people-oriented values and long-term policies. The statement seeks the protection of people’s livelihoods and dignity, as well as the creation of a society where people can freely express concern for each other.

On the occasion of the return of Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty, Pope John Paul II wrote a letter to the diocese encouraging the Church to be part of “fostering religious, moral, cultural and social values… even more than before, to be in the midst of the Chinese nation the ‘city set on a hill’ and ‘the lamp on a stand’.”

Faith does not only urge us to think, but compels us to achieve “personal sanctification, sanctification of others and contribute to a better world” through action. May the Lord guide Hong Kong towards becoming a society of charity and justice so that peace will be present in the world. SE