Say ‘no’ to incompetent government, message from Tanjung Piai by election!


The message from Tanjung Piai is really quite simple and straightforward.

The Malays are willing to vote for BN, MCA, PH or PPBM. To them, which party or coalition to vote for is secondary. Increasingly, they want a government that can work for them, not just good in hoodwinking.

Some pundits claimed that it was Umno-PAS union that pulled the Malay votes for BN. I would prefer to think that it is the “push factors” to vote against PPBM and Pakatan Harapan that caused the swing.

Frankly, I think most are quite fed-up with the PH government by now. Many must have paused to ask themselves which aspect of their life has become better since May 9, 2018.

Maybe they couldn’t find any other than the continued intrigues and infighting within PH component parties.

The Chinese, too, can vote for different candidates and different coalitions at different times. To them, it does not matter if it is PPBM, PH, BN or MCA. It shows Chinese Malaysians are not racist. They just want to be treated fairly; it does not matter which race represents them in the government.

PPBM, Amanah and PKR need to be reminded that the Chinese are not leftovers; they are productive citizens.

No one wishes to be insulted, so let no one tell the Chinese to go back to China again. This is totally unacceptable.

The Chinese value their children’s education very much because they know they can’t depend on the government for jobs. So, forums and congresses threatening to shut down certain schools should stop.

They want multilingual education for their children, so stop telling them what language they can or cannot learn. If the government cannot protect the minority, it does not deserve support, period.

Finally, all Malaysians – Malays, Chinese, Indians and others – hate an incompetent government. So stop talking about flying cars, third national car, crooked bridge, Kulim Airport which is a stone’s throw from Penang, and endless plans for Penang.

TK Chua is an FMT reader.

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Losing faith in reform of Malaysian education system


 

TO put it bluntly, I have lost confidence in our education system.

There were high expectations after the new government came into power after May 9,2018 with

its promises of reforms, and we hoped that our education system would be restored to its previous glory. But after the blunders in the past one-and-half years, I see little hope in Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik turning things around for the better.

I have little choice now but to pull my children out of the national school system despite having to work much harder to afford private education for them.

From my observations, recent developments in the Education Ministry show that Maszlee has little or no experience in running the ministry, which is close to the hearts of all Malaysians.

His suggestion to implement free breakfast for all children will cost millions, if not billions, of ringgit; money that could be used for more meaningful things like upgrading school facilities. After all, not all children will eat their breakfast.

His latest blunder was to propose the abolition of streaming in upper secondary level. When you abolish streaming, you will end up with a rojak curriculum where the children become a jack of all trades but master of none. Their grounding in the sciences or arts would not be strong enough for them to survive their university education.

Already, the national syllabus is rojak at best, with more subjects and topics being introduced every year. I cannot imagine my children having to go through the next 10 years of their education learning things that are not relevant to their future careers.

Just think of a 10-year-old child having to learn two or three languages, Science and Mathematics, plus a host of the other subjects like Health Science, Physical Education, Architecture (reka bentuk), Moral and Civics Education, Information Technology, Arts and Craft, History and Geography. On top of these, there’s Khat and Chinese calligraphy too.

Furthermore, some principals, especially in Chinese schools, are adding to the financial burdens of the parents by asking them to buy more workbooks than allowed by the ministry.

When my son was in Standard Three, I was shocked to see that he had 21 workbooks. When he moved up to Standard Four, he had to go through a total of 440 pages for just one subject, Bahasa Melayu.

By comparison, schools conducting international syllabi such as IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education) only require the children to concentrate on four or five subjects. They focus only on the key areas that will help fulfil their prerequisites for a university education while the rest can be learnt as a hobby instead of being taught in a classroom situation.

My plan was to put my children in Chinese primary school so that they could learn the language. This means they would have to struggle with Mandarin in the first six years of their education, Bahasa Malaysia in secondary level and then English when they enter university.

Like it or not, for Malaysia to compete internationally, we still need the international languages that are widely used across the world without, of course, neglecting Bahasa Malaysia or the mother tongues, which have their place in the country.

One reason why many of our graduates are not employable is because they cannot even express themselves properly.

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Home Ministry bans B&RI comic book too quick. Is it really that dangerous?


Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad giving the comic book to China’s President Xi Jinping as a gift.

Image

Penang DAP chief defends ‘Superman’ Hew’s banned pro-China comic books

Ban on 'Belt and Road Initiative for Win Winism' too quick — ChowGEORGE TOWN, Oct 25 — The Home Ministry was hasty in banning former DAP member Hew Kuan Yau’s Belt and Road Initiative for Win-Winism comic as communist propaganda, Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said today.

“The authorities need to look at the real intentions behind the comic and look at it in detail before banning it,” the Penang DAP chief said in a press conference today.

He said the authorities initially wanted to invite historians to scrutinise the comic book but banned it as communist propaganda before this could be done.

Chow suggested there was ulterior motives in the swift ban.

“They should have asked experts to review the comic and get their views before banning it,” he said.

Chow said authorities should consider that Hew wanted to introduce China as an alternative to the US as a global superpower.

He noted that aside from curating for the Asia Comic Cultural Museum, Hew had also been the chief executive officer of the Malaysia China Business Council.

Chow claimed China was misunderstood politically and Hew meant only to highlight the country’s economic success.

He further claimed that China has thousands of self-made billionaires who made their fortunes through socialism despite being a superficially communist state.

“It was his intention to give an alternative introduction to China regarding its economic development,” he said.

The Home Ministry officially banned the comic as it was deemed to be inappropriate as it promotes “communism and socialism” as well as spreading confusing facts” on its struggle here in the country.

When asked about the state government’s financial support for the Asia Comic Cultural Museum, Chow said the museum itself was not banned.

He also said the museum did not belong to the state government, which only supported it by paying for its rental.

“The museum was set up in 2016 and chose to set up in ICT Mall at Level Two of Komtar during a time when the state government was taking steps to rejuvenate Komtar,” he said.

He said at the time, the state government was bringing in businesses to Komtar including The Top, ICT Mall and Tech Dome, and the state decided to support the museum when it chose to move there.

“It is a tourism product that is unique in Malaysia and even Asia, it is a comic museum that promotes creativity and animation where various events were held by famous comic artists there,” he said.

He said this was the reason why the state decided to collaborate with the museum by paying for their rental but stated that the state did not fund the exhibits or infrastructure in the museum.

“We only support in terms of rental and the rental goes to Penang Development Corporation, this is the only link between the state and the museum,” he said.

He said the state has an agreement with the museum to support it until December 2020.

The issue of the state’s support for the museum was discussed at the state exco meeting this morning, he added.



But is it really that dangerous?

Titled Belt & Road Initiative for Win-Winism, the comic book was a collaboration between a curator from the Asian Comic Cultural Museum Hew Kuan Yau and Malaysian comic artist, Tomato.

Unless you’ve been living under a coconut shell, you would’ve probably heard of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

It’s a strategy by the economic powerhouse to take over the world. Business wise that is, through investments and development in a whopping 152 countries across Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and the Americas.

Malaysia has had some investments flowing in from the country through the development of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL).

A super problem.

The curator of the museum, Hew, also known as Superman Hew, is a member of the Democratic Action Party (DAP) which forms part of the current Malaysian government.

Hew has been known for his vocal pro-China views. Although he no longer holds leadership positions in the party, he is still very much active as a member.

For Malay-Muslim hardliners, DAP is seen as a pro-Chinese party who is out to get them. The comic issue blew up because former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak took to social media to quiz if the comic was a form of propaganda.

mej PM ke-7 turut digunakan sebagai bahan promosi untuk penjualan dalam talian komik propaganda DAP.

Najib also uploaded several images among which featured current Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad showcasing the comic to Chinese president, Xi Jinping.

Chinese propaganda?

China's economy has surpassed America's — and that's OK

China’s economy has surpassed America’s — and that’s OK
China is fast growing, economically.

The comic was not sold in news stands or bookstores unlike others. Instead, it was apparently distributed in several schools.

What’s more, these books were sent to school libraries for free. This prompted Malaysian Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik to ban the comic books in schools.

Critics of the ruling government claimed that the comic was used as a propaganda tool to brainwash the younger generation. The opposition’s call to debate the comic was also recently dismissed.

This led the Malaysian Home Ministry to announce a total ban of the comic on the grounds that it could “endanger public order and security” and “distort the mind of the public”.


But should it have been banned?



The cover of the comic depicts Malaysian prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Chinese premier Xi Jinping. IMAGE: The Edge Markets

Not really as Malaysians have the freedom to read the comic book, according to renowned local cartoonist Zunar.

“Until today, I haven’t read the whole content of the comic. Personally, I may or may not agree with the content, but I am strongly against the banning of the comic,” he said in a statement to Free Malaysia Today.

Zunar, who has had his own cartoons banned during Najib’s rule, said he agree that distributing the comic in schools was uncalled for. But Malaysians are capable of making their own decisions.

“The principle is simple: ‘Cartoons and comics are a matter of interpretation. If you do not agree with the content, no problem. But do not use your interpretation as a law to ban it. Don’t like? Don’t read!”

Hew and others are currently being investigated by the police in their involvement of producing the comic book and distributing some 2,500 copies in schools. 

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Malaysian talent lost due to racial bigotry


Leng Siew Yeap

Leng Siew Yeap, a Malaysian, a graduate of UMS applied for a scholarship to do a doctorate degree but was refused outright by the local govt.

She was however offered scholarships by University of Edinburgh, London University and Cambridge University. She chose Cambridge University’s Dorothy Hodgkin postgraduate award to study stem cell.

On graduation she accepted the offer from Harvard to study human immunology. She is now working in research for a Shanghai university hospital.

She has successfully helped to create an method/procedure 4 the body to secrete
an antibody to fight HIV. She is now married to a Shanghai citizen, living and working in Shanghai. She and her achievements are never mentioned in any Malaysia newspaper.

View Full Profile – Shanghai Institute of Immunology

 

 

Shanghai Institute of Immunology, Shanghai Jiao Tong University
School of Medicine, China.
Research Interests

Our body is constantly attacked by pathogens. To fight against various pathogens, B cells produce a large antibody repertoire through different processes that involve genomic DNA alterations. During B cell development, a DNA cut and paste mechanism called V(D)J recombination generates a primary antibody repertoire by producing V(D)J exons that
are made up of combinations of different V, D and J segments. Upon activation by pathogens, mature B cells undergo secondary antibody diversification, whereby Somatic Hypermutation (SHM) generates antibodies with higher affinity, while Class Switch Recombination (CSR) generates antibodies with different effector functions. In theory, our body has the capability to generate all necessary antibodies to fight against different pathogens through antibody diversification mechanisms. However, this is not the case. For example, in certain infectious diseases such as Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection/ acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS), only a small percentage of the infected patients were able to produce effective antibodies. Our research aims
to elucidate molecular mechanisms that facilitate approaches in generating highly effective antibodies to fight pathogens and infectious diseases. We employ various approaches including mouse models, cell line systems, CRISPR-mediated genome editing and next-generation sequencing technologies (Yeap et al., Cell, 2015, Figure below) to address our aims.

 

 

Top Malaysian researcher working to wipe out infectious diseases

Dr Yeap heads the antibody diversification team at Shanghai Institute of Immunology, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, China.

LIKE many of her peers, Dr Yeap Leng Siew, 39, was raised believing that noble careers only include doctors and lawyers.

So when the Selangorian failed to enter medical school because she didn’t get straight As in the Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM), her childhood ambition of becoming a doctor came crashing down.

She was upset for awhile but remembered that as a secondary school girl, she had done well in Biology.

It encouraged her to take up Biotechnology at Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS).

“I passed with flying colors and was the best student at university. If I hadn’t been rejected to do medicine, I wouldn’t have the career that I now enjoy. It was a blessing in disguise.”

Now married to a Chinese national and living in Shanghai, the mother-of-two graduated with first class honours from UMS in 2003, and received the Royal Educational Award and Tunku Abdul Rahman Medal. These awards recognise the country’s best student from each public university. After graduation, she was still unsure about her career path until a research stint at the Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) sparked her interest in cell biology.

She went on to do her doctorate in stem cell biology at the University of Cambridge, before continuing as a Harvard Medical School postdoctoral fellow at the Boston Children’s Hospital.

“Initially I wanted to do a Ph.D in Singapore but my GRE score (a US-based graduate entrance exam) was not great.”

Though she did not receive any offers during the first round of application, she was determined to pursue a Ph.D degree.

“People are bitter about rejections because they do not have backup plans. Prof Bing Lim, my supervisor at GIS, once told me to be open-minded because a narrow mind narrows potential. His words were etched in my heart ever since.”

She was later granted the Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) Dorothy Hodgkin Postgraduate Award – a full scholarship for outstanding students from developing countries to pursue a Ph.D degree at the University of Cambridge.

She continued to make her mark when she was awarded the St Catharine’s College Graduate Prize for Distinction in Research during her stint in Cambridge. She then went on to receive the prestigious Cancer Research Institute Postdoctoral Fellowship in the United States.

Disappointment, she said, is part of life.

“It is how we overcome disappointments and take up challenges that distinguishes us from the rest.”

The former research assistant at GIS now heads the antibody diversification team at Shanghai Institute of Immunology, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, China.

“Prof Huck Hui Ng from GIS once told me, ‘work hard, and the sky is the limit’. I now tell my students those very same words.”

In 2017, Yeap was selected by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) to receive the Excellent Young Scientist Fund, which is aimed at nurturing young talents with innovative potential.

She speaks to StarEdu about her work and advises young science students to expand their horizon. The world doesn’t end just because you didn’t get into medical school. There are many opportunities for those interested in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

> What is your area of research?I am interested in understanding why some people develop effective antibodies to fight diseases while others do not. For example, only a small percentage of HIV-1 infected patients develop potent antibodies against the virus, which is why this remains a major health problem globally. Another example is how despite being vaccinated for the flu or hepatitis B (HBV), some do not develop protective antibodies and are still susceptible to these illnesses. My research group is studying how the antibodies acquire high levels of mutations and other special characteristics. Understanding how these rare antibodies develop will shed light on developing HIV or new vaccines for the flu or HBV.

> How long have you been away from home? Sixteen years. During the final semester of my undergraduate studies, I did a 10-week research attachment at the National Cancer Centre of Singapore. It was a time when biological research was just starting to bloom there. I was very fortunate not to be sent home because of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak, and even luckier, because I landed my first job as a research assistant at the Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS).

Seeing that I graduated from a university that didn’t even exist when he left his hometown, Kota Kinabalu, my supervisor at GIS, Dr Bing Lim, decided to hire me. He has been a great mentor ever since. In his laboratory, we were trying to culture human stem cells and I was fascinated by the idea that these cells may be turned into any type of cells for therapeutic purposes.

I realised then that I would have to pursue a Ph.D degree if I want to move further along in my research career. Two years later, I moved to the United Kingdom to begin my postgraduate studies in the lab of Prof Azim Surani at the University of Cambridge. When I completed my doctorate, my parents were expecting me to come home. So when I told them that I had planned on continuing my postdoctoral training in the United States, they were shocked. It took a while to convince them that a Ph.D degree is just the beginning of a career in research and that to have a chance of running my own laboratory one day, I would have to undergo a postdoctoral training as well.

In 2010, I started my postdoctoral training in the laboratory of a top immunologist, Dr Fred Alt at Harvard Medical School. During the five years of postdoctoral training, I met my husband and gave birth to my first child.

In 2015, we decided to move closer to home to start our career as independent researchers.

> What is it about home you miss the most?The food definitely – nasi lemak, durian, and my mum’s cooking.

> You helped find a way for the body to fight HIV. Tell us about that breakthrough.During my postdoctoral training, I developed mouse models to study how different antibody genes undergo mutation. We found that certain DNA sequences are more prone to mutations and that the same DNA sequences are also prone to deletions, another common characteristic of anti-HIV broadly neutralising antibodies.

These results suggest that DNA sequence direct the evolution of antibodies and these results were published in Cell in 2015, a top journal in the biological field. In 2017, we published in Proceedings of National Academy of Science on a related work where we analysed a mouse model carrying a human antibody gene and found that many mutations in anti-HIV antibodies are not easily achieved. Understanding how our bodies are able to elicit these rare antibodies will help in vaccine design strategies.

> What are you currently working on?We are continuously trying to elucidate the molecular mechanisms underlying highly effective antibody generation and developing approaches to guide our bodies to produce such antibodies during infection. We use animal models, cutting-edge gene editing techniques and next generation DNA sequencing in our research. We hope to one day wipe out infectious diseases like HIV.

> Are there any plans to work with other Malaysian researchers moving forward?We are constantly reaching out to researchers from all over the world, and Malaysia is definitely a priority. On Aug 9, I was in Malaysia with a delegation headed by Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine chancellor Prof Guoqiang Chen, and Shanghai Institute of Immunology director Prof Bing Su, to promote collaborations with Universiti Malaya’s Faculty of Medicine. We also visited the International Medical University (IMU).

With the Chinese government’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative, there are plenty of funding opportunities for academic exchanges and scholarships for graduate studies. Hopefully, more people will come to know about research and academic opportunities in our school.

I have been exposed to different research environments in top laboratories and research institutes around the world, and the current biomedical research environment in Shanghai and other major cities in China, is definitely on par with the places that I have been to.

>What is the most challenging aspect of working in a lab?As an independent researcher, my job is to design and supervise experiments, analyse the results with my students and postdocs, and write manuscripts for publications. I also have to make sure that the lab has enough funding to do research.

Some of the challenging aspects include dealing with failed experiments, manuscripts and grants being rejected, and harsh criticisms by peers. But the satisfaction in being the first in the world to discover something new and potentially textbook-changing, makes all the hard work worthwhile.

> What qualities would a young, aspiring researcher need?Passion, persistence and determination. In the labs I’ve been to, I’ve seen college or even high school students doing research internships during school holidays. These kinds of opportunities allow students to experience the laboratory culture and life as a researcher. Being exposed to different career options at an early stage allows students to make better career choices and develop greater potential. I hope young Malaysians can be more pro-active and seek out such opportunities to enrich themselves in their spare time. I didn’t know there was such a possibility when I was in school.-Source link

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Behind Hong Kong’s chaos lie deep-seated social ills



Chief Executive of China’s Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Carrie Lam speaks during a media session in Hong Kong, south China, Sept 5, 2019. [Photo/Xinhua]

Economist: Island needs closer ties with China to improve

“Seclusion brings no development opportunity for Hong Kong,” said economist Lau Pui-King. “Some youngsters don’t understand that Hong Kong would be even worse if it is secluded from the Chinese mainland.”

“To come out of the current economic difficulty, Hong Kong needs to be linked with the Chinese mainland much closer and more effectively,” she said.

HONG KONG – Kwong loves the pure adrenaline rush he gets when he takes his motorcycle out on the weekends to light up his lackluster life.

The 35-year-old lives with his parents in an old and cramped apartment in the New Territories of Hong Kong. He has a girlfriend but is hesitant to get married and start a family.

“The rent is so high, and there is no way I can afford an apartment,” said Kwong, who earns 15,000 HK dollars ($1,950) a month. Renting a 30-square meter one-bedroom apartment would cost him about two-thirds of his salary.

“Future? I don’t think much about it, just passing each day as it is,” he said.

Kwong’s words reflect the grievances among many people in Hong Kong, particularly the young. Many vented their discontent in prolonged streets protests that have rocked Hong Kong since June.

The demonstrations, which started over two planned amendments to Hong Kong’s ordinances concerning fugitive offenders, widened and turned violent over the past months.

“After more than two months of social unrest, it is obvious to many that discontentment extends far beyond the bill,” said Carrie Lam, chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), referring to the now-withdrawn amendments.

To Lam, the discontent covers political, economic and social issues, including the often-mentioned problems relating to housing and land supply, income distribution, social justice and mobility and opportunities, for the public to be fully engaged in the HKSAR government’s decision-making.

“We can discuss all these issues in our new dialogue platform,” she said.

HKSAR Chief Executive Carrie Lam visits a transitional housing project of the Lok Sin Tong Benevolent Society Kowloon in Hong Kong, south China, Aug 9, 2019. [Photo/Xinhua]


UNAFFORDABLE HOUSES

For nine straight years, housing in Hong Kong has been ranked as the least affordable in the world. Homes in the city got further out of reach for most residents, according to Demographia, an urban planning policy consultancy. The city’s median property price climbed to 7.16 million HK dollars in 2019, or 20.9 times the median household income in 2018, up from 19.4 times from a year earlier.

In the latest case of house transaction, an apartment of 353 square feet (about 33 square meters) at Mong Kok in central Kowloon was sold at 5.2 million HK dollars in September, according to the registered data from Centaline Property Agency Limited.

For those fortunate enough to have bought an apartment, many have to spend a large part of their monthly income on a mortgage. For those who have not bought any property yet, it is common to spend more than 10,000 HK dollars in rent, while saving every penny up for a multi-million HK dollar down payment.

From 2004 to 2018, the property price increased by 4.4 fold, while income stagnated, statistics show. From 2008 to 2017, average real wage growth in Hong Kong was merely 0.1 percent, according to a global wage report by the International Labor Organization. Homeownership dropped from 53 percent to 48.9 percent from 2003 to 2018.

Efforts of the HKSAR government to increase land supply to stem home prices from soaring also went futile amid endless quarrels. Of Hong Kong’s total 1,100 square kilometers of land area, only 24.3 percent has been developed, with land for residential use accounting for a mere 6.9 percent, according to data from the HKSAR government.

Social worker Jack Wong, 29, lives in an apartment bought by his parents. “I’m lucky. Most of my friends still have to share apartments with their parents. My cousin has been married for seven years, but he is still saving for his down payment, so he has to live at his parents’ house,” he said.

“The older generation changed from having nothing to having something. We, the younger generation, thought we had something, but it turns out we have nothing,” he said.


MIDDLE CLASS’ ANXIETY

While young people complain about having few opportunities for upward mobility, Hong Kong’s middle class, which should have long been stalwarts of the society, are under great economic pressure and in fear of falling behind.

It is not easy to be middle class in Hong Kong, one of the world’s most expensive cities. To join the rank, a household needs to earn at least 55,000 HK dollars, or $7,000, a month, according to Paul Yip Siu-fai, a senior lecturer at the University of Hong Kong. About 10 percent of the households in the city are up to the rank.

Earning that much can be counted as rich in many parts of the world. But in Hong Kong, the money is still tight if you have a child to raise and elderly to support.

Housing is the biggest burden for the average middle-class resident. The cost of having a child is another headache in Hong Kong, where pricey extra-curricular activities and private tutoring are considered necessary to win in the fierce competition.

Fears of descending to the low-income group are real for the middle class. Many think they belong to the middle class only in education and cultural identity, but their living conditions are not much better than the impoverished, said Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, former secretary for transport and housing of the HKSAR government.

Civil servants and teachers, who earn much more than the average income, are traditionally considered middle class. But Cheung found out in a survey that many of them could not afford to have their own apartment, with some even living in the narrow rooms of partitioned apartments.

“We don’t belong to the low-income group, but we could just rent an apartment now,” said Lee, a teacher at a secondary school in Hong Kong.

Lee and her husband earned nearly 1.3 million HK dollars a year, but a 50-square meter apartment is the best they could rent now for a five-member family. She preferred not to give her full name as she feels her situation is embarrassing.

“We want to save more money to buy a house near prestigious elementary schools for our kids,” Lee said. “If our kids can’t go to a good school, it’ll be very tough in the future.”

A woman walks near the Harbour City in Hong Kong, south China, Aug 27, 2019. [Photo/Xinhua]


CHANGING ECONOMIC STRUCTURE

In the 1970s, nearly half of Hong Kong’s labor force were industrial workers when manufacturing thrived in Hong Kong. During the 1980s, Hong Kong’s finance, shipping, trade and logistics and service industries started to boom.

Since then, the economic landscape began to change amid subsequent industrial upgrading.

Due to the hollowing out of the manufacturing industry, the wealth gap in Hong Kong widened and the class division worsened. Despite the prosperity of finance, trade and tourism in recent years, more than 1.37 million people are living below the poverty line in Hong Kong, home to more than 7 million.

Working career options are now limited, leaving little hope for the youngsters to move up the social ranks.

As a result, Hong Kong’s social class has largely been solidified in the 21st century, with the richest people dominated by property developers and their families.

The Gini coefficient, which measures the inequality of income distribution, reached a new high of 0.539 in 2016, far above the warning level of 0.4, according to data by the HKSAR government’s Census and Statistics Department. The greater the number toward one, the more inequal in income distribution.

Though the HKSAR government tried to narrow the wealth gap, many people in Hong Kong said they are not sharing the fruits of economic prosperity, the young and those low-income groups in particular.

STAGNATING POLITICAL BARRIERS

What makes the deep-seated problems in Hong Kong such a hard nut to crack? The reason is complicated, according to observers, partly due to the containment in the current political structure that leads to governance difficulty, partly due to a doctrinaire implementation of the principle of “small government, big market,” or laisser faire, and most importantly due to the opposition’s “say no for none’s sake” that stirs political confrontation and sends Hong Kong into a dilemma of discussions without decisions, or making decisions without execution.

Over the past 22 years, the successive HKSAR governments have tried many times to tackle these problems by rolling out affordable housing programs and narrowing the rich-poor gap.

For example, to make houses more affordable, Tung Chee-hwa, the first HKSAR chief executive, proposed in 1997 to build at least 85,000 flats every year in the public and private sectors, raise the homeownership rate to 70 percent in 10 years and reduce the average waiting time for public rental housing to three years.

Such plans, however, went aborted as home prices plunged in Hong Kong amid the Asian financial crisis in 1998.

“Since Hong Kong’s return, many economic and livelihood issues would not be as politicized as they are now, should the HKSAR government have introduced more policies and better social security arrangements to address those problems,” said Tian Feilong, a law expert of the “one country, two systems” center with the Beijing-based Beihang University.

To carry out major policies or push forward major bills, the HKSAR government needs to garner the support of two-thirds majority at the Legislative Council (LegCo).

The HKSAR government’s previous motions, be it economic policies or fiscal appropriations, were impeded by the opposition time and again at the LegCo, regardless of the interests of the majority of Hong Kong residents and the long-term development of the society.

The HKSAR government sought in 2012 to establish the Innovation and Technology Bureau to ride the global wave of innovative startups, diversify its economic structure and bring more opportunities for young people. Such efforts, however, were obstructed by the opposition at the LegCo in defiance of repeated calls by the public. After three years, the proposal to create the bureau was finally passed by the LegCo.

In another case, a Hong Kong resident, incited by the opposition, appealed in 2010 for a judicial review of the construction plan of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge. Though the HKSAR government won the lawsuit after more than a year of court proceedings, 6.5 billion HK dollars of taxpayers’ money had been wasted in the increased construction costs of the bridge’s Hong Kong section due to the delay.

As time passed, problems remained unsolved, so did public discontent.

Repeated political bickering stalled Hong Kong’s social progress amid the sparring, and the opposition created a false target and blamed the Chinese mainland for those deep-seated problems.

Lau Pui-King, an economist in Hong Kong, snubbed the opposition’s resistance of or even antagonism to the Chinese mainland, saying such thinking of secluding Hong Kong from the entire country could end nowhere but push the city down an abyss.

“Seclusion brings no development opportunity for Hong Kong,” Lau said. “Some youngsters don’t understand that Hong Kong would be even worse if it is secluded from the Chinese mainland.”

“To come out of the current economic difficulty, Hong Kong needs to be linked with the Chinese mainland much closer and more effectively,” she said.

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