Adjournment Motion u Rule 162 of the RoP
MR CHAN CHUN-YING (in Cantonese):
President, I rise to speak in support of Mr Christopher CHEUNG’s adjournment motion.
President, although the scrutiny work on the amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance (“FOO”) has completely stopped, the demonstrations did not thus end. The Central Government Offices were closed for four days within two weeks. The Revenue Tower, Immigration Tower and the Police Headquarters in Wan Chai were also besieged by protesters. Last night, another incident of besieging the Police Headquarters occurred. Under such a social atmosphere, the Chief Executive cancelled the Executive Council meeting for two consecutive weeks. The public forum on the proposed guidelines on election-related activities in respect of the District Council Election originally scheduled to be held on 25 June by the Electoral Affairs Commission was temporarily cancelled too. Funding for the studies related to artificial islands in the central waters under the Lantau Tomorrow reclamation project was placed as the last item on the agenda. The Land Sharing Pilot Scheme was also postponed indefinitely.
Has the Special Administrative Region (“SAR”) Government gone dormant? Everyone’s view may vary, but undoubtedly, public services have already been affected. The morale of the Hong Kong police officers has also suffered a serious blow. However, did it ever come to our mind that with the overall crime rate last year being the lowest since 1974, Hong Kong is one of the safest cities in the world, and this is obviously attributable to the remarkable performance of the Police Force? If one day we no longer have such an outstanding Police Force maintaining law and order, will Hong Kong still be a safe city?
On 12 June, there were not too many Members in the Legislative Council Complex. I was one of them. I personally witnessed what happened on that day. The majority of participants in the public meeting on that day, including students and youngsters, were law-abiding and peaceful. But it does not mean there were no black sheep among them at all, and nothing unlawful, violent and hazardous to the police officers’ safety took place. What I saw with my own eyes is the same as what Members saw in the videos on the television and mobile phones. There were indeed a group of radical protesters, clad in masks covering their mouths, eyes and even their faces, attempting to charge into the Legislative Council Complex by force. They hurled mills barriers, metal bars and bricks at the Police, resulting in police officers being injured, falling onto the ground and being sent to the hospital. None of these are fabrication. They are true stories which have happened. The Government’s promotion of the amendments to FOO or the Chief Executive’s refusal to step down will not make the said acts of hurling mills barriers, metal bars and bricks and deliberately inflicting grievous bodily harm lawful, peaceful, rational and even worthy of encouragement, will it?
President, Mr Christopher CHEUNG proposed the adjournment motion with the purpose of facilitating a dispassionate discussion about the current social situation to see how society can get back onto the right track, so that the people of Hong Kong can return to their normal lives and the economy can maintain various edges and positions which it originally enjoys.
In the fourth quarter last year, the real growth of the Gross Domestic Product (“GDP”) of Hong Kong dropped to 1.2%. In the first quarter this year, it further dropped to only 0.6%, the worst quarterly performance in 10 years. It can be said that we are on the brink of a downturn. In the past 30 years, such a low economic growth appeared only during the onslaught of the Asian financial turmoil in Hong Kong in 1997, the bursting of the tech bubbles around the world in 2001, the outbreak of SARS in 2003, and the global financial tsunami in 2009.
At present, the unfavourable external factors can inflict considerable devastation already. The China-United States trade war has grasped global attention. No country or person can stay aloof. In April this year, the International Monetary Fund lowered for the third time the forecast of global economic growth in 2019 to 3.3%, hitting the lowest growth rate since the financial tsunami. Among others, the GDP growth rate of the United States would decrease to 2.3% from 2.9% of last year. That of the Euro area would drop to 1.3% from 1.8%, and that of Japan would be only 1%. Meanwhile, the World Trade Organization has just released the latest report on Trade Statistics and Outlook, substantially lowering the forecast of global trade growth this year from 3.7% to 2.6%, far lower than 3.8% of last year. It illustrates that global trade growth has reverted from being higher than the global economic growth rate in the past two years, to an abnormal state of development of being lower than such a rate.
President, the figures mentioned just now reflect the external pressure faced by Hong Kong, but the recent controversy over the amendments to FOO has given rise to an internal crisis. In fact, in the light of the overall economic situation in Hong Kong, we should deeply ponder the future development prospects of Hong Kong. In the first quarter of 2019, the GDP growth rate of Hong Kong was only 0.6%. In the corresponding period, the growth rate of Shenzhen was 7.6%; that of Shanghai, 5.7%; that of Beijing, 6.4%, and that of Guangzhou, 7.5%. In terms of GDP, after being surpassed by Shenzhen last year, Hong Kong will also be surpassed by Guangzhou in 2019. GDP of Hong Kong currently ranks merely the fifth in the whole country. Simply put, all the first-tier cities of the country are enjoying steady growth. Hong Kong alone has become the hare in the race against the tortoise.
Meanwhile, the problem of wealth disparity is one of the main reasons for the social conflicts in Hong Kong. In an article published earlier by Prof WONG Chack-kie, Honorary Senior Research Fellow of the Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies of The Chinese University of Hong Kong, comparisons made of Hong Kong with the major cities of the United States and Singapore show that the poverty and wealth gap in Hong Kong are common phenomena in metropolises. Many young people who have taken to the streets this time complain about the lack of opportunities of upward movement. According to the information released by the Hong Kong Government in November last year, among the 7.2 million people in Hong Kong, approximately more than 1.01 million live under the poverty line. The Gini Coefficient which measures the degree of poverty sets the alert level at 0.4, but Hong Kong already reached 0.537 in 2011.
In the content of Mr Christopher CHEUNG’s motion, I am most concerned about one point: “large-scale demonstrations and conflicts may spark off anytime”. The controversy underpinned by the opposition to the legislative amendment is yet to be completely resolved. Can reconciliation be achieved simply by making an apology? How will Hong Kong develop in its aftermath? Will society remain in turmoil? Will the launch of the non-cooperation movement further tear Hong Kong apart, making the ordinary masses suffer? How can young people’s views be incorporated into the implementation of new policies? All of these questions may be the trigger point of the next protest or confrontation. Hence, now various sectors in Hong Kong need to dispassionately consider how to bury the hatchet so that Hong Kong society can restore stability and peace. Although the social problem of wealth gap cannot be resolved overnight, what we can do is to stop the endless political disputes and focus our efforts on developing the economy and improving people’s livelihood, thereby giving hope to the young people, providing them with opportunities and motivating them to strive to move upward. This is precisely the problem which the Government and Members present should squarely address.
(THE PRESIDENT’S DEPUTY, MS STARRY LEE, took the Chair)
Deputy President, scenes of continuous street protests and confrontations between the Police and the people have turned Hong Kong into a focus of international attention. Some people living abroad and even foreign investors hold that Hong Kong is now in chaos. Recently, it has been reported that quite a number of business visitors have cancelled their trips to Hong Kong. Some have even taken actions to withdraw their investments. To maintain the steady economic development in Hong Kong, we must resume rational dialogue and give up radical actions so that the people’s daily life can resume normal as soon as possible. Only then can the international image of Hong Kong be rebuilt. The tourism industry of Hong Kong may suffer a hard time. Other related industries, such as retail, transport, catering and hotel, may also be implicated. If no obvious improvement can be seen within a short period and these several industries suffer losses, it is really not good for Hongkongers.
Deputy President, the international political and economic situations are complicated and volatile. Against the general background of uncertainties in the China-United States trade war, now Hong Kong actually does not have too many laurels on which it can rest. What the community at large needs most is to expeditiously focus on the economy and concentrate on livelihood issues. While remaining steadfast in our posts, we should reinforce our strengths, enhance the competitiveness of Hong Kong and be forward-looking, thereby making Hong Kong a better home.
Now Hong Kong must start afresh. It must also revitalize its strengths.
Deputy President, I so submit.