sexta-feira, 17 de julho de 2009

Um artigo de leitura obrigatória em Macau!

Singling out foreigners is an attack on Hong Kong

Stephen Vines
South China Morning Post
July 17, 2009

As the deadline approaches for the government to produce new constitutional reform proposals, the great minds in Lower Albert Road are busy coming up with 101 reasons for a delay while seeking new ways to explain that representative government will not work in Hong Kong. As they do so, an intriguing lifeline has been thrown to them by Cheng Jie , a mainland academic who was seconded by the National People's Congress Standing Committee to carry out research on the Basic Law.

In an article in the Hong Kong Journal, she concludes that "a great mistake of the Basic Law" was to allow foreign nationals to be civil servants and judges and that granting foreigners the right to vote has made the application of universal suffrage "more complicated".

Were this an isolated example of questioning fundamental characteristics of the Hong Kong way of life, it could be brushed aside. But it follows on from a more substantial attack delivered by Cao Erbao, director of the research section of the central government liaison office in Hong Kong, who openly called for the establishment of what is, in effect, a shadow government to ensure that Beijing's wishes are enforced here.

Professor Cheng's questioning of the Basic Law is less far reaching in some ways but more troubling in others. She is blind to Hong Kong's complex history of multiculturalism and conveniently ignores that most "foreigners" were born and bred here but hold foreign passports because they have reservations about coming under the rule of the People's Republic. Unlike foreigners born overseas, who have opted to be part of the life of Hong Kong, these "foreigners" feel the need for an insurance policy that allows them to opt out.

Presumably, Professor Cheng either does not know or chooses to ignore the fact that a high proportion of the government's favourite yes-men and women, who are regularly showered with honours and official posts, have foreign passports tucked in their back pockets. Clearly Beijing doesn't want to undermine their position, so it is reasonable to conclude that the real target of the professor's concerns are foreigners who are not Chinese. If this is so, it smacks of racism.

She is right to observe that Hong Kong's arrangements for foreign permanent residents are unusual, but not unique - permanent residents of Britain and New Zealand, for example, have the right to vote and many countries allow foreigners to become civil servants. But, Hong Kong goes further and derives strength from its multinational character.

In the case of the judiciary, marked out for special attention by Professor Cheng, the presence of foreign judges is taken as an indication that Hong Kong has nothing to fear from an independent judiciary matching the best international standards. And the fact that Hong Kong has granted all permanent residents the right to vote reflects a healthy desire to involve all the people.

Yet China is perpetually suspicious of what it regards as foreign intervention in its internal affairs and rarely misses an opportunity to express concern. The very internationalism that makes Hong Kong strong and viable as an international financial centre therefore becomes a source of suspicion in Beijing.

A small reflection of this paranoia was seen when Allan Zeman was apparently blocked from becoming a member of the Executive Council, despite having gone to the lengths of renouncing his Canadian citizenship and taking out a Chinese passport.

It is hard to confirm that a directive from Beijing caused this to happen, but there is no other feasible explanation. Although there was a lot of chatter at the time, it is surprising that this frontal attack on the chief executive's right to appoint his own officials attracted so little concern. Maybe that's because it was considered to be a small matter involving mere foreigners. If that is so, this only shows how undermining the position of foreigners has profound implications for Hong Kong.

Stephen Vines is a Hong Kong-based journalist and entrepreneur

Sem comentários: