Speech of the Hon KP Chan on Motion on Reaffirming Hong Kong’s Core Value at the Legislative Council on 22 February 2012 (Synopsis)
• For years, Hong Kong has been a plural society of diverse ethnicity, absorbing different cultures. There were several waves of migration from Mainland in early years of the last Century. Newcomers soon settled down to renew the labour force and they contributed much to Hong Kong’s economic growth. The territory was then full of opportunities. Although conflicts occurred among different groups sometimes, most cases were resolved promptly through mutual understanding and mutual reconciliation.
• Owing to economic downturn after reunification, upward social mobility is reducing notably and social conflicts are intensifying. The traditional spirit of mutual understanding and mutual reconciliation is diminishing. Nowadays, there are not only inter-territorial conflicts with Mainlanders but also recurring internal conflicts within Hong Kong.
• Economic development in the Mainland has been spectacular in recent years and more people are becoming affluent. Some are fond of shopping for prestigious goods in Hong Kong. Some are investing and doing business here. Some even choose to come and resettle. Contacts between Mainland and Hong Kong are increasing and unavoidable. However, people living on both sides of the border are quite different culturally. When Mainland migrants are increasing, cultural conflicts are also intensifying.
• The SAR Government only has jurisdiction over local affairs but conflicts with Mainlanders are inter-territorial. Given such limitation, in my view, it would be more effective to address the problem at source. In recent years harmonious policy and education are biased towards ethnic minorities and handicapped. The Government should start work on harmony with Mainlanders.
• The Government should promptly devise substantive policy on population and lay down comprehensive directives on new migrants and doubly non-permanent resident pregnant Mainlanders. Many disputes are arisen from poor knowledge on related measures to deal with the situation. Take pregnant Mainlanders as an example. They are a cause for concern because people have no idea of how many children would stay behind and how local policies on medicine and education would be adapted accordingly. Local people are naturally skeptical of their interests being unduly eroded.
• Meanwhile, underlying internal conflicts and economic structural imbalance are main sources of social discontent. It is indeed one of the catalysts of inter-territorial conflicts between Mainland and Hong Kong. Therefore, building a harmonious society and restructuring the economy are top priorities of the next Administration.
• Doubly non-permanent resident pregnant Mainlanders are a cause for serious concern. Everyone knows the crust of problem is the right of domicile in Hong Kong of their children by birth. The issue would not be resolved unless such right is retracted. Some learned Members propose to amend the Basic Law and plug the hole. I agree that this is effective but it would also take time. Therefore, I would rather support petitioning to National People’s Congress for legal interpretation.
• On the cross-border driving scheme, the first phase should not be problematic but the second and third phases deserve further thought. There is no practical need for Mainlanders to be able to drive across the border. Hong Kong is a congested city. Roads are often redirected. Parking is inadequate. Traffic is congested. In fact cross-border driving is not necessarily convenient to Mainlanders and would make local traffic even worse. Moreover, local public transport system is advanced. Visitors would find it more convenient to go everywhere on the public system. There is no good cause to introduce the scheme.
• Convergence of Mainland and Hong Kong is an irreversible trend. Residents on either side of the border are different in cultural background and livelihood. As contacts become more frequent, conflicts are unavoidable. While exchanges are bringing economic benefits to Hong Kong, local people are also resistant to Mainlanders, though not pragmatic. I wish people on both sides of the border would learn to get along better with each other in the spirit of mutual understanding and mutual reconciliation.