Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Who Really Rules Hong Kong?

Li Gang, deputy head of the Beijing liaison office
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has declared three days of mourning starting tomorrow after the boat crash off Lamma Island on October 1 where so far 38 are confirmed dead, and a number of missing are still unaccounted for.

While Leung has promised to spare no effort in trying to help the victims, it was strange and unsettling to see Beijing stepping into the fray, once again putting into question where the boundaries are with "One Country, Two Systems".

In last night's China Central Television main newscast, it was said: "Comrades [President] Hu Jintao, [Premier] Wen Jiabao and [Vice-President] Xi Jinping... issue important instructions, ordering the Hong Kong government to spare no effort in searching for missing persons, treating the injured and comforting their relatives."

While senior mainland officials like to say this when incidents happen, in Hong Kong's case, isn't it obvious the city's search and rescue teams are going to do what they can to save the victims of the disaster? Do we need to be instructed on what to do in an emergency?

And then there was also footage of Li Gang, deputy head of the Beijing liaison office with Leung at Queen Mary Hospital. Li spoke for two minutes, giving his thoughts on how he felt about the accident and what Guangdong authorities could do to help.

"We are deeply sorry about the deceased citizens," he said.

Guangdong sent four big salvage ships that eventually were not used in the rescue efforts because the waters at the scene were too shallow for them to enter.

We'd like to point out here that Li has no authority in the administration of Hong Kong so why is he allowed to say anything or even instruct people and departments on what to do?

Wouldn't it be common sense not to send massive salvage ships into shallow waters? What a waste of time and energy. Obviously none of the captains of these salvage ships dared to counter orders or explain to higher-ups that they could not enter the area.

And why is Leung allowing Li to give the appearance that he is in control of the situation?

Leung should use this opportunity to step up and demonstrate his leadership abilities not only to us, but to Beijing as well. He was elected to stand up for the rights of Hong Kong people and here he seems to have cowered. Is this the kind of leader we want in times of crisis?

In the meantime locals are still in shock over reports from survivors of how there was no instruction from the crew on what to do immediately after the crash and when the boat started to sink. It was only through individual efforts did many people manage to stay alive.

Their previous belief that things like boats are safe, that everything is taken care of by capable staff is now thrown out the window and will be questioned.

Perhaps the good that will come out of this is that Hong Kong people will now actually pay attention to safety demonstrations and be more aware of their surroundings.

And we'll probably also see many more parents enrolling their children into swimming lessons. After all we're surrounded by water so shouldn't everyone know how to swim?

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