Legco Election 2016 > Opinion
Monday, August 29, 2016, 00:07

Elderly voters vital to HK’s future

By Tony Kwok

Many of us born in the 1950s would have experienced the prevailing poverty in Hong Kong in our youth. Life for most people was a constant struggle. Many lived in cramped illegal squatter huts which offered minimal protection against the elements. It was common to see several family members squeezed into a single bunk bed.

Nests of such grimly overcrowded “accommodation” proliferated in old buildings as well. Social security assistance from the then colonial government was non-existent. Elderly voters vital to HK’s futureWorse still, these were the times when corruption was rampant and mainly affected the poor. Little wonder that a popular saying at the time was: “Corruption exists for the poor from the womb to the tomb!” 

Yet in the face of such adverse social conditions, our generation did not give up, firmly believing that they could improve their lot through hard work. Fortunately, in the midst of such great injustice in society, a few brave souls from both the local and expatriate communities took it upon themselves to pressure the colonial government to clamp down on corruption. Through their persistent efforts, in particular those of the indomitable Elsie Tu (then known as Elsie Elliott) who took the case all the way to Westminster, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) was created in 1974.

The ICAC lost no time in taking bold and decisive actions against the endemic corruption, and the result was soon apparent — a major concern of the grassroots people was soon removed, allowing them to concentrate on making a living, and in the process helped kick-start Hong Kong’s path to economic prosperity. Riding on the back of our well-known “Lion Rock Spirit”, 1970s-1990s Hong Kong was transformed into one of the most prosperous cities in the world. Average annual GDP grew by 3.6 percent higher than any OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) economies.

Our generation also has a strong sense of patriotism and was proud of China’s 5,000-year history and culture. Whenever there were major natural disasters on the Chinese mainland, we did not hesitate to offer generous assistance, believing that “blood is thicker than water”.

It is heartbreaking to see our city degenerating from a place of harmony and prosperity into one torn by internal strife, self-doubt and stagnation within a decade. It’s no secret that much of the blame must be laid at the door of unscrupulous and demagogic politicians and certain academics whose twisted thinking has led our young generation astray. Our young political radicals clamor for “Hong Kong independence” — evidently a self-destructive goal. This is a clear warning of how a vociferous minority among us can threaten Hong Kong’s social and economic well-being and hijack its political agenda.

Is it any wonder the older generation is seriously concerned, if this trend continues, about what the future might bring? I therefore strongly urge the voters of our generation to come out and vote in the Sept 4 Legislative Council (LegCo) election, keeping the following questions in mind:

 1) Do you know that every LegCo member can earn HK$16 million in their four-year term? This is one of the highest-paid jobs in Hong Kong so we must ensure value for money! Do you want to vote for someone who would do nothing constructive but spend their time filibustering, as the “pan-democrats” in the current term have done, wasting a total of 229 hours of LegCo time? This caused losses of at least $100 million in public funds. It also delayed some major projects such as the West Kowloon Terminus, Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, the creation of the Innovation and Technology Bureau, reform of the Medical Council, etc.

2) In the old days, LegCo members behaved in an educated manner. Would you want to see your grandchildren copying those members who display the most vulgar conduct in the LegCo chamber?

3) The government proposed electoral reform to enable each of us to cast our individual vote at the next Chief Executive election. Who took away your entitlement? Who caused you to be a helpless onlooker again?

4) Would you want to see a repeat of the illegal “Occupy Central” protests, causing massive damage to our economy and inconvenience to our daily lives?

5) Our economy is facing huge challenges. Mainland tourists are deterred from coming because some politicians discriminate against them. The most effective remedy for Hong Kong’s economy to recover is to take advantage of the mainland’s rapid development and incoming tourists. Would you want to vote for someone who is anti-mainlander and will obstruct such economic cooperation?

6) Are you concerned about the independence movement getting worse? Can you foresee that it would only bring disaster to Hong Kong, such as another Mong Kok riot and terrorism?

7) Who are the candidates most likely to receive secret political donations and hence have a secret agenda not in the interests of Hong Kong?

8) Would you vote for those candidates who are likely to oppose a single checkpoint for the Hong Kong-mainland express rail terminal and hence create a lot of avoidable inconvenience when traveling to the mainland?

These are critical questions all voters should consider before casting their vote. According to the voter register, there are 1.5 million voters over 55 years of age, representing 40.8 percent of all voters. You can make a significant difference to our future if you vote wisely!

The author is a former deputy commissioner of ICAC and currently an adjunct professor of HKU SPACE and an international anti-corruption consultant.
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