Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Selective Hearing and Vague Interpretations

Donald Tsang and Wang Guangya
It's not often Hong Kong gets visits from its mainland masters, but Wang Guangya came for his first trip this week since taking office as director of the State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office in October.

His three-day visit was short which makes one wonder if he really understands what is going on in Hong Kong.

Firstly he pushed the national education agenda saying this was important for young people to understand the motherland.

"Hong Kong's national education should develop its own content and its own way of expression in a way suitable for local people's learning," he said. "The mainland also has a set of national education teaching materials, but I don't think it will be fully applicable to Hong Kong. But I believe there are some basic elements. One is Chinese history... How did Chinese people experience the past 5,000 years? Secondly, there should be an understanding of China's contemporary history, especially about what happened in the past 150 to 200 years.

"If you don't have such knowledge, you will find it difficult to understand why China chose to follow the way of socialism since 1949... Don't take it negatively when you hear the phrase national education."

Sometimes Chinese leaders can be so vague in what they say that it can be hard to know what they really expect. So for example does he mean it's OK for teachers to talk about June 4 as he encourages Hong Kong to develop its own content? And when he talks about history, does he mean to say that despite China's past as an ancient civilization that students should believe that thousands of years of imperialism were wrong and socialism was right?

Secondly, Wang said Hong Kong needs to address its housing problem urgently.

"The housing demands of citizens constitute both an economic and a livelihood issue. If not handled properly, it will become a political problem. The government should be sensitive to and be concerned about the housing problems people are facing."

So any pointers on how to solve the housing issue, Wang? Basically the problem is that many of your citizens are buying up properties here, and not just one at a time, but more like 10 at a time. Any suggestions on how to curb your people from buying our flats?

And finally, Wang went out of his way to avoid protesters and political critics. As columnist Michael Chugani says, "Why do they [senior mainland officials] always give the impression they have ears only for those who shine their shoes?"

He goes on to say Wang could have easily silenced his critics by meeting with the likes of "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung and Wong Yuk-man. Chugani says rightly that by deliberately avoiding the opposition, Wang has inadvertently given credibility to protesters who say mainland officials only listen to the rich and powerful.

Which is evidenced by his lunch meeting with legislators who were not elected by the people, including the likes of Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen, National People's Congress member Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai and property tycoons Lee Shau-kee and Cheng Yu-tong.

Chinese officials like to say they are listening to the people -- but perhaps they really mean only their favourite people.

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