【明報專訊】THE Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies (HKIAPS) of The Chinese University of Hong Kong, which starting from 2006 conducts a biennial study on social harmony in Hong Kong, has published its latest survey findings. According to the survey, disharmony between the public and the government has risen sharply during Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's term of office, and has for the first time become one of the three major causes of societal conflicts. This is the result of Tsang's seven years of office, and represents a major threat to social stability. To remedy the situation, the next Chief Executive must first of all improve the political atmosphere.
(1) The survey was conducted between February 1 and 10, ie before the media brought to light the illegal basement in Henry Tang Ying-yen's luxury residence and Tsang's acceptance of hospitality from tycoons. If the survey had been conducted somewhat later, anti-government feeling would undoubtedly have been even higher.
(2) The sharp rise of disharmony between the government and the public has occurred within Tsang's term of office. In percentage terms, this disharmony has risen from 31% in 2008 to 56% in 2010, and then to 67.6% this year, which means an increase of 36.6 percentage points in four years. What a big leap forward! Conflicts between the public and the government, between the rich and the poor, and between the public and conglomerates are so closely interrelated that they constitute an indivisible trinity that points to a defective political system, misguided government policies, and individual government officials' personal misdeeds. As head of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Tsang cannot but be held responsible for this.
The defective political system is one of our prime concerns. After Hong Kong's restoration to China, an irrationally structured political system showers political privileges on the business and financial sectors as well as social groups with vested interests, such as the Heung Yee Kuk. This basically accounts for the property hegemony, financial hegemony, and public utilities hegemony that have plagued Hong Kong in the past few years.
And government policies are misguided. According to the HKIAPS' survey findings, disharmony between the public and the government has very much intensified since 2008. In retrospect, this has to do with the Tsang government's mistaken land policy. By refusing to increase land supply on its own initiative, the government has created a serious shortage of new residential units, and property prices have soared to unaffordable levels. Moreover, Tsang for a long time held out against demands to revive the Home Ownership Scheme, which has caused widespread resentment.
The third factor has to do with individual government officials. Recently, media revelations about Tsang's acceptance of hospitality from tycoons have given rise to much speculation, and seem to have provided answers to some strange questions. For instance, the public have been urging the government to buy back the Eastern Harbour Tunnel, which would cost about HK$3 billion only, but strangely the government has refused to do so. Now we know that Tsang has taken rides on tycoons' private jets, and one of those tycoons happens to be the tunnel company's major shareholder. This has given the public much food for thought. Things like this may well contribute to the growing disharmony between the public and the government in the past few years.
The Central government must understand that the only way to resolve Hong Kong's political dilemma is to allow fair elections to take place. Hong Kong's deep-seated conflicts cannot be settled unless political power is re-deployed through a democratic process.