Foreign Policy, a global news publication, published a political commentary on Wednesday, describing Hong Kong as ‘a Modern City Without a Modern Government’.
The commentator mentions, support from at least two-thirds of the Legislative Council members is required for any amendment to the Basic Law, the Constitution of Hong Kong; Beijing, the pan-democrats and the pro-business members in the Council, each has the power of veto to any motion and proposal submitted the Council. As a consequence of these political arrangements, Hong Kong is unable to resolve some of her significant social issues, including housing shortage, ageing population, underemployment of labour, market monopolisation and corruption of high-ranking officials. Meanwhile, Beijing is concerned that the protests in Hong Kong may affect various policies.
The commentator also quotes findings of some researches, saying half of the Hong Kong population feels that the legitimacy of Beijing is weaken because of its dishonest and insincere attitude on the issue of Universal suffrage. Comparing to the colonial era, Hong Kong now has a lower degree of political apathy, and more importantly, a higher level of modernisation. However, Beijing is only willing to apply an Iran-styled election on Hong Kong, in which the central government has the rights of nominating the candidates. This proposal of political reform has a high chance of being rejected, the political development of Hong Kong will regress to the stage of 2012, where the participation of the people is lacking.
The commercial circles are given a considerable political power by Beijing Government in which they have become the dominant group in the Nominating Committee. The commentator claims, seventy percent of Hong Kong’s Gross Domestic Product is kept in the hands of the mega-riches, followed by Russia, where only twenty percent of that is in control of the billionaires.
As a result of this situation, proposals or bills resolving public issues cannot be approved in the Council. Forms of wealth like estate and capital income are not subjects of taxation while ordinary citizens, for their consumption in industries like supermarket, pharmacy, real estate, need to pay extra ‘taxes’ to the billionaires. Antitrust laws are not passed to improve the situation. The welfare system is blamed to be shameful while the population is ageing quickly.
The commentary suggests, Beijing can now ignore the interest of these mega-riches as the central government no longer needs their capital and connection networks. Despite the effectiveness of the election is limited, power interactions are still guaranteed. However, at the end of the article, the commentator concludes that there seems to be no way for Beijing, the pan-democrats and the mega-riches to compromise on the issues. For these reasons, Hong Kong became ‘a modern city without a modern government’.