Genuine dialogue needed in HK

Protesters forming up at Harcourt Road, outside the Hong Kong Legislative Council on Aug 5, 2019.
Protesters forming up at Harcourt Road, outside the Hong Kong Legislative Council on Aug 5, 2019.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

What options are there for Hong Kongers who increasingly feel disenchanted with their lot (Hong Kong at a crossroads, Aug 1)?

The future looks grim as their views go overlooked. Many see their comparative advantages usurped by the larger hinterland.

Increasingly, many believe their way of life, which is starkly different from the motherland, has come under threat.

The idealistic "one country, two systems" arrangement faces immense strain.

A million people turning out for protests is not to be taken lightly.

It shows the extent of the discontent on the ground.

Notwithstanding the mini-Constitution, there remains a wide perceptual gap on what "one country, two systems" means on either side of the divide.

While the mainland emphasises "one country" as sacrosanct, Hong Kongers see "two systems" as distinct and equal.

Hong Kong has enjoyed a high degree of autonomy over the years. Having reverted to the motherland for just 22 years, it is perhaps too short a time for it to feel comfortable under the ambit of China.

Like with all transitions, it takes time for all seven million people to come to terms with the new reality.

Hong Kong is an open society which rides on the rule of law. Its prosperity is drawn from the market system.

Its people are exposed to the world. They speak the Cantonese dialect. In many ways, they are dissimilar from their mainland compatriots.

But the concept of "country" is relatively new to the former colony. While some quarters may think Hong Kong is liberal, it falls short of being democratic over the last 200 years.

As such, the people face an ambivalent identity crisis, torn between East and West.

While the process of reversion to Chinese rule is irreversible, the pace could be better managed to ease Hong Kongers into China's fold. The continuous prosperity of Hong Kong rests on how much confidence investors have in the territory. Combative demonstrations do not help.

Engaging the populace through genuine dialogue with adequate channels for the people to be heard remain the best option for Hong Kong to prosper.

Youth, who hold the key to Hong Kong's future, must be reached out to in order to make them feel a sense of belonging.

It makes sense for both the government and governed to build on commonalities rather than differences for "one country, two systems" to work.

Lee Teck Chuan