【明報專訊】WITH "double-not" pregnant women (women who as well as their spouses are not Hong Kong residents) flocking to Hong Kong and mainland tourists snapping up everything, Hong Kong people's lives have come to be badly affected. This has not only given rise to controversies, but has also led to bitter and violent recriminations. The Hong Kong government must not remain heedless of the situation.
Hostile sentiments between mainlanders and Hong Kong people have been simmering for long. Following D&G's attempt to stop Hong Kong people from taking photos of the shop and a mainland scholar's labelling Hong Kong people as "dogs", a number of people in Hong Kong have taken to calling mainlanders "locusts". Last week some even took out a controversial newspaper advertisement, and the Equal Opportunities Commission made an announcement expressing its concern over the advertisement, which "feature mainlanders as 'locusts' and appeal to negative emotions against them". On February 5, there was a man who staged a demonstration at the Luohu Port, Shenzhen against Hong Kong people for their discrimination against mainlanders. He was eventually sent away by security guards.
Mainland women who keep flooding into Hong Kong to give birth and mainland visitors who buy up everything (from milk powder to designer goods and local properties) are in fact affecting Hong Kong people's normal lives. But we must be objective in our criticisms. Where problems arise because of general policies, we should urge the government to take remedial measures; and where conflicts are the result of certain individuals' violation of social ethics, we should only criticise those individuals and their behaviour. If we lash out indiscriminately at mainlanders who are law- abiding and have nothing to do with the conflicts, we are giving way to prejudice and slander, which we as Hong Kong people should disdain to do.
While people should be stopped from discriminating against mainlanders in word and deed, this does not get to the root of the trouble. After all, the influx of "double-not" mothers is the direct result of the HKSAR government's failure to come up with a population policy - a policy that is long overdue. To solve the problem once and for all, the government must do its job and take the bull by the horns. Pregnant mainland women come here to give birth primarily because they want their children to have the right of abode in Hong Kong. This in effect points to the superiority of our social system and mainlanders' preference to live in Hong Kong. If the government can make good use of this, the problems associated with an aging population can be alleviated, and our health care industry will receive a welcome boost.
As for mainlanders visiting and shopping in Hong Kong, they are doing us far more good than harm. To criticise indiscriminately tourists from the mainland is to violate the established rules of a hospitable Hong Kong.
As a result of mainlanders shopping in Hong Kong, the Hong Kong market is no longer a local market, but a national one. Even a tiny percentage of the purchasing power of the mainland will be able to distort the Hong Kong market. As George Leung, HSBC Asia Pacific Consultant (business strategy and economic affairs), pointed out long ago, the HKSAR government should recognise the duality of our society, and take measures to separate our market into two, with one market for local consumers, and another for non-local consumers. This two-market system is required for our education, health care, real estate, and basic consumer goods. The HKSAR government, however, has so far not responded to Leung's very constructive proposal, nor has it taken any effective measures to solve the problem. It is therefore the HKSAR government that is to blame, not mainlanders visiting Hong Kong, most of whom are innocent tourists. We take a dim view of those who call mainlanders "locusts", for though they are limited in number they are not doing Hong Kong any good, but will only develop a hate mentality that will prove detrimental to Hong Kong's interests.