In a move that has been widely seen as a gesture demonstrating the central government’s readiness to hear the views of different sectors in the Hong Kong SAR on local affairs, four legislators representing the major political parties in the opposition camp have been invited to a short meeting with State leader Zhang Dejiang next Wednesday — the second day of his three-day inspection trip to the city.
To the surprise of many residents, some of those invited have demonstrated their reluctance to attend the meeting. It is recalled that opposition legislators have repeatedly asked for direct dialogue with central government officials when discussion on election reform for the proposed implementation of universal suffrage in the SAR was at its height.
After the election reform proposal fell through last year, many members of the opposition camp have remained agitated and become cynical about almost everything in the SAR. A meeting with Zhang Dejiang, who chairs the National People’s Congress Standing Committee and oversees Hong Kong affairs, is no doubt a great opportunity, by any measure, for them to present their views on local issues to the central government. After all, what better channels or opportunities — other than directly conversing with the top central government official in charge of Hong Kong affairs — can they think of for that purpose?
Granted, there might not be enough time for every attendee to present his or her points during the proposed meeting; a short meeting understandably can hardly achieve something significant or settle any major issue. But, to paraphrase Chief Secretary for Administration Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s words, any kind of meeting or communication is likely to produce some positive results. If the meeting proceeds favorably, it could herald a series of similar meetings between central government officials and representatives of the opposition camp in the future.
Members of the opposition camp have been advocating all kinds of ideas or political pursuits in the name of the public good. But how can they convince the public that they are really working for the overall interests of Hong Kong society rather than their personal or narrow party interests when they shut the door to communication with the central government, a major stakeholder in Hong Kong’s affairs? And how can they convince citizens they can achieve anything which could affect the future development of the SAR without the blessing of the central government, which after all has a great stake in the success of Hong Kong, over which it has constitutional rights and responsibility.
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