Letters from leaders of Hong Kong's political parties and government departments.
To my Dearest Hong-Kong,
I’m honoured to address a people who’ve proven that despite the hurdles they may face, and the false justifications that may be spewed by Mainland-agenda heavy politicians to justify the endangerment of our most cherished principles, they will not falter to unite in peaceful opposition as we’ve seen over the extradition issue.
The spring of 2019 has staged the largest protests since the Umbrella Movement, and some argue the biggest rallies since the handover in 1997. On Sunday 29th of April we were more than 130,000 strong. On Sunday 9th of June, we were over a million. Over a million in a population of 7.5 million. Let that sink in for a moment.
Come Wednesday June 12th thousands of young people and other opponents of the bill gathered around LegCo and pressured the government not to table this controversial bill during its second reading.
Hong Kong , I admire you. I admire your resilience, I admire your courage, I admire your power.
It would be so easy to accept for a given the words of politicians such as those of Mr. Holden Chow who said in his letter to Hong Kong, rather ironically and incoherently, a picture of a Hong Kong prey to ruthless criminals. Indeed, the Victoria harbour seems but a large swamp of loopholes where all run from justice “scott-free”.
Hong Kong can still boast of an independent judiciary, the existence of a robust rule of law and a clear and fair legal systems which more than meets international standards unlike that of the Mainland. The Basic Law and “One Country Two Systems” principles assure our civil liberties, our human rights and our autonomy; all which unlike the pro-Beijing parties we refuse to abandon.
The proposed extradition bill, if passed, would threaten all of this.
Our city is not at the moment the “criminal backwater of Asia” as my friend Ronny Tong put it during our debate on the matter of extradition at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club.
However, if “our system” is quashed by the Government through false pretence, we will become the backwaters of the People’s Republic of China.
Under false pretence, because it is obvious that the Taiwan Murder Case, thou truly deplorable, is not the reason for the Secretary for Security and the Government’s proposed amendments to the 1997 Fugitive Offenders Ordinance and the Mutual Assistance in Legal Matters Agreement. I do feel, sincerely for the loss of the young victim’s family and it is mine and the pan-democrats hope that justice will be served.
Yet, I do wonder what is most deplorable to the DAB: Filibustering or using the loss of life and the pain of a family to justify the advancement of an agenda which has been waiting for the opportune moment to be pushed into the limelight?
Sadly, we all know this case is being politicised to serve the higher interests of those whom would willingly make puppets of all Legislative Council members.
However, Hong Kong and its people have proven that they will neither be manipulated nor silenced.
The world looks at Hong Kong in amazement. For in truth I can think of very few places where a gathering of so many remains peaceful. Where thousands of young people stand united together, share resources and look out for each other.
We see all generations of Hong Kong represented in these gatherings, with foreigners and expats who call our city home also joining in to oppose the derogation of our basic civil liberties and rights.
The calm and the organisation in these protests is bewildering. The trash is cleared, water is passed around, ambulances and other helpers are applauded.
Of course there is some notable tension…I understand there can be frustration around the barricades but people stood their ground in peace. It is important to remember that the very few who might engage with law enforcement at times do not speak for the whole.
Hongkongers are peaceful and respectful. We stand and we chant, we wrap white roses on iron gates and built protective barricades.
The overwhelming solidarity and peace of young people was shockingly met with violence initiated by the Government.
Carrie Lam’s government chose to clamp down on people by surrounding them , sending in their technical units to instil fear among them and by using real weapons meant to injure those who would not backdown.
The scale of violence was unprecedented. Pepper spray meant to disperse the young people by burning their skin was used early on Wednesday. Quantities of tear gas cannisters, reminiscent of 2014, was thrown into crowds from heights and even onto the footbridges.
The police armed in riot gear closed in on protesters from the side on Connaught road and Queensway making them an easy target for the lung and eye tearing substance they threw with intent to harm.
Worse, while young people stood with an umbrella in one arm and saline solution in the other, the police shot rubber bullets.
These violent attacks were both aimless and targeted, with horrifying instances such as a group of officers taking down a lone protester by assaulting him with water cannons or beating down another who stood up too boldly with their batons.
So far more than 72 people are reported injured, ranging from 15 to 65, with some in critical condition.
In this wake of mobilisation, in this horrifying use of violence, the Government announced It would not budge. Instead it declared hours after the march on Sunday night and the protest on Sunday that it would pass the bill.
Despite the Security Bureau and the Chief Executive evident lack of regard for public opinion or condemnation of violence, the people of this “criminal backwater” will continue to take to street and make their voice heard.
Hongkongers are peaceful but they are not numb, we will fight for the respect of our autonomy.
We remain an enclave of human rights and civil liberties at the footsteps of a country whose leadership do not share our values nor beliefs.
A million people stood up, prioritised their ideals over other important responsibilities such as work or family because they are concerned.
These voters, these individuals of all walks of life who are Hongkongers thru and thru were not even deemed worth consulting by the government.
It is shocking that there has been no true public consultation over the proposed amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance; amendments which critically endanger our international community and open the floodgates to the Mainland’s unscrupulous legal system.
No one can say this isn’t controversial. No one can argue that it is only the business sector which is concerned and that the removal of nine ‘business’ related offences is enough to disperse worries.
I am grateful for the international media whose focused on our plight, I am grateful for the legal scholars and the international politicians who have denounced Beijing’s intense meddling in Hong Kong politics along with its disregard for the “One Country, Two systems principle.”
However, most of all, I am grateful for the spirit of Hong Kong. I admire each and everyone’s courage and dedication. I know it can feel hopeless at times but we have to carry on and I urge the international community to keep supporting us.
Justice prevails brute force and oppression but we need our allies to stand with us .
In the vein of David facing Goliath, our strength is in our values and our rock is our peace. We are Hong Kong; and as Hongkongers we stand up for what we believe in.
Dennis Kwok LegCo Member for Legal
Dear Hong Kong fellows,
Under the shadow of the China-U.S. trade war, the business community in Hong Kong is generally downbeat about the economic outlook for 2019. However, the signing of the new Agreement on Trade in Goods between the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government (HKSARG) and the Ministry of Commerce under the framework of the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) on December 14, 2018 could be said well-timed and offered relief for local businesses and companies under the current climate of uncertainty.
According to the new agreement, starting from January 1, 2019, much more goods of Hong Kong origin can be imported to the Mainland with zero tariff. In addition, pilot scheme on liberalization of the servicing industries including finance, education, tourism and culture, will be launched in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area (GBA).
This CEPA Upgrade is a more comprehensive free trade agreement with enrichment in contents covering four major areas, namely trade in goods, trade in services, investment, and economic and technological co-operation in response to the National 13th Five-Year Plan. It, to a great extent, elevated the co-operation and exchanges on both sides setting a new milestone and laying a solid foundation for further economic integration and trade development.
One will be pleased to see that the new agreement unifies, refurbishes and enhances the level of commitments on liberalization and facilitation of trade. It also opens up more economic and investment opportunities between the Mainland and Hong Kong as well as gradually addresses the issue of ‘big doors lay open while small doors remain shut’. In particular, the zero-tariff arrangement for goods will inevitably save manufacturers’ time in tackling product specific rules of origin (PSRs) and encourage them to develop new products in Hong Kong and export them to the Mainland market in full gear. Besides, trade facilitation measures among the cities within the Greater Bay Area and Hong Kong will keep to boost the manufacturers’ confidence in upgrading their production lines for high value-added products, to speed up the pace of expansion of SMEs in the Mainland market and to provide stronger support to Hong Kong's participation in the Belt and Road Initiative. The description - “Made in Hong Kong” is going to be loved.
The agreement supports Hong Kong to cultivate a greater and broader export market in order to boost its own economic growth. This could be seen as the country's new measure to further support Hong Kong's economic development.
The agreement is a 'New Year gift' for Hong Kong, which serves to combat the adverse consequences of the trade war and carve a way out for the trade sectors. However, to ensure successful implementation of the Agreement, it is important that the government of each side shall take necessary measures, whether in the form of law, regulation, rule, procedure, decision, and administrative action, etc. to ensure observance of the agreement by its competent government authorities.
2018 marks the 40th anniversary of the nation's reform and opening-up, and the 15th anniversary of the signing of CEPA as well. It is of special and epochal significance to Mainland and Hong Kong to have this CEPA Upgrade last year. It reflects the country’s full recognition of Hong Kong’s tremendous contribution to the success of the reform and opening-up process.
As a matter of fact, the current international political and economic environment is complicated and unpredictable, particularly trade protectionism is escalating rapidly, posing a major threat to global economy. The Chinese economy also faces downward pressure, as reflected by the economic data in recent months. The industrial output growth and Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) reveal signs of slowing down. In addition, enterprises in various industries are facing significant challenges in the process of transformation and upgrading. Nevertheless, China has the capability and confidence to maintain the economic fundamentals sustaining its development in the long run. Medium-to-high speed growth of China’s economy is an important stabilizer for Hong Kong’s economy. When China gradually expands its domestic demand, the demand for imported goods and services becomes increasingly strong. Hong Kong, with the strong support of Mainland, will benefit the first and the most. Looking ahead, growth for trades in goods and services in the future remains great, which will not only inject new energy into Hong Kong's economic development but will also strengthen its capability to resist adverse impacts by, say, a trade war.
2019 is expected to be a challenging year. The Sino-U.S. trade war is still in the process of endless talks and discussions without constructive conclusion. As a representative of The Chinese Manufacturers' Association of Hong Kong (CMA) in the Legislative Council and one of the Vice Chairman of the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong (BPA), I will use my best endeavor to speak for them and assist the government in formulating policies conducive to the development of SMEs. Say, calling on the government to offer incentives in encouraging high value-added and highly automated industries to open their factories in Hong Kong. For what concerns the industry most, such as revitalization of industrial buildings and the offsetting of MPF, I will make every effort to achieve the highest common factor between the interest of the industries and society. I shall look forward to everybody’s continue support to me. Let’s go hand in hand to achieve a better Hong Kong.
Let me take this opportunity to wish everyone a fruitful New Year.
Member of the Legislative Council Jimmy Ng Wing Ka