【明報專訊】VIEWS differ on the occupation, but there is no denying that young people, including students, are at the forefront of the movement. It is students that are supposed to dialogue with the government. In other words, it is young people that play the leading role in the van and in the rear of the movement. Needless to say, we are not saying students have no right to dialogue with the government. In a democratic society, the government should communicate with and allow itself to be supervised by all citizens, including young people. This is the first time citizens of the younger generation have played the leading role in important talks about political development in the future since representative government entered citizens' political life in the 1980s.
Hongkongers of the new generation, who have grown up in the Internet world, are much more civic-minded than their seniors. Flooded with information, they have a wide field of vision. They are concerned not only about themselves but also about others. This is certainly at variance with the way government-people talks were conducted in which recourse was had only to nationalistic sentiments. It will be all the more necessary for the government to change its way of communication in the wake of the occupation. When Hong Kong was under British rule and in the early days of the SAR, the government communicated with pan-democrats and others in the wilderness in a way that had to do not only with political principles but also with personal relationships of long standing. Those people had dealt with one another for such a long time that they trusted and tacitly understood one another. They brought about what government-people interactions were based on in a long period spanning thirty years. They were so careful that there was little danger of any accident like the inadvertent discharge of a rifle being cleaned.
However, social activists of the new generation are a different breed. They consider political principles more important than real advantages. In the past, the government never failed to persuade its opponents to give way by promising them political rewards or advantages, but this no longer does the trick. Activists of the new generation are so idealistic that it is hard to budge them from their bottom line. Students are so pure and innocent that some may call them "naive" or "liable to be manipulated". However, they enjoy popular support precisely because they are by nature not eager for political advantages. Their supporters have no fear of the resistance being "betrayed". Faced with the rise of this generation, both the central government and the SAR government must formulate a new strategy of interaction. Unless they do so, difficulty of communication will not only make it hard to carry out their decisions. If the authorities are out of touch with young Hongkongers, their policies will meet with indifference, and it will prove impossible for them to run the territory effectively. That would be a direr crisis.
It is more than two weeks since the occupation began. Even the leaders of the movement have freely admitted it has disrupted transport services in some districts and made it hard for some tradesmen to earn their living. Such adverse effects are transient, and things will return to normal when the movement ends. However, the occupation will have far-reaching repercussions. What role have Hongkongers of the younger generation played in the movement? What classes do most of them belong to in local politics? These are factors to which close attention will be paid when they have talks with the government presently and in the future. Whatever may come of the movement, the change is what the SAR government must face for a considerable time to come.