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Editorial﹕Do not politicise everything

【明報專訊】PROTESTERS blocked a government office building yesterday following a similar action last Friday. Some citizens, dissatisfied with their protests, got into an argument with them. These protesters might believe that their actions are justified and politically necessary. However, to many citizens who are affected, such blockades are neither necessary nor the only way to present their demands. The persistent disruption of people's lives as a means of political struggle will only provoke a backlash from the public.

It has been more than a week since the government announced the suspension of the amendment of the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance. But the political crisis has not been defused. The pan‑democrats and protesters, believing that the government has failed to respond to their demands, are carrying on with all means of confrontation within and without the legislative chamber. Matthew Cheung, the Chief Secretary for Administration, stresses that the amendment "has been completely put on hold", adding that when Legco's current term ends in July next year, the amendment bill will lapse automatically, and "the government will accept this fact". He calls on citizens to wipe the slate clean. Our view is that the government should write the coda to the whole affair as soon as possible, since it has already decided to give up the amendment. Why leave the matter at a loose end and wait for the bill to "die a natural death" in July next year? Some might say the government does not state clearly that it is withdrawing the bill because the pro‑establishment camp has thrown its weight behind it previously. However, the DAB, the biggest party in the pro‑establishment camp, has declared that if the government believes that the withdrawal of the amendment is conducive to the healing of society, its supporters will understand that. These words have paved the way for the government to make a gracious climbdown. The government should not hesitate to withdraw the bill anymore.

From land and housing to the elderly and medical services, Hong Kong is faced with a mountain of problems concerning people's lives. It is itself a difficult task to deal with so many vested interests and complicated political issues. If these issues are further politicised and no progress is made, the problems will only deteriorate further. Take land supply. The government has already forged a consensus on the issue through the great debate on land supply, as more than half of citizens support land reclamation and the building of artificial islands in the central waters. But the amendment saga dealt a heavy blow to the government, and discussion over the funding for a feasibility study for the Lantau Tomorrow Vision plan has been delayed. It will be very unfortunate for Hong Kong if the government's work to find land and put up housing becomes a victim of the controversy over the amendment.

Not much time is left of the current Legco session. The Finance Committee still has dozens of matters to consider, many of which are about education and bread‑and‑butter issues, such as the IT Innovation Lab in Secondary Schools Programme and the renovation or expansion of four hospitals. If the funding is not approved in time, these projects will be delayed by four months to a year. Chan Kin‑por, chairman of the Finance Committee, says he is striving to meet with the pan‑democrats, but the pan‑democrats say they do not see the need to do so. Instead they want to meet with Matthew Cheung directly and present the pan‑democrats' view on the funding of which matters should be given priority. The pan‑democrats stress that they should not be smeared and accused of impeding the funding for bread‑and‑butter matters. How things develop will depend on the outcome of the pan‑democrats' meeting with the government. We hope that all sides can try their best to approve funding for less controversial bread‑and‑butter matters. As for the more controversial projects such as the spending of $20 billion on the acquisition of social welfare equipment and the housing project at Wang Chau, all sides should consider them on their own merits and avoid politicising the matters.

明報社評 2019.06.25﹕避免影響民生事務 泛政治化於港無益

繼上周五之後,昨天再有示威者阻塞政府辦公大樓,有市民不滿,與示威者爭執。示威者認為他們的行動有正當性和政治需要,可是對於不少受影響市民而言,這類堵塞行動既無必要,亦非表達訴求唯一方法,以干擾民生作為政治抗爭手段,持續下去將惹來民情反彈。

政府宣布暫緩修例超過一周,政治危機迄今仍未解除。泛民和示威者認為政府仍未回應訴求,議會內外各種抗爭行動仍在持續。政務司長張建宗強調修例工作「已完全停止」,又說今屆立法會會期明年7月結束,條例草案屆時將自動失效,「政府會接受這事實」,希望市民放下嫌隙。既然政府已決定放棄修例,應當盡快清楚寫下句號,何苦還要留下政治尾巴,等到明年7月才讓草案「壽終正寢」。若說政府不願明言「撤回」,乃是考慮到之前建制派傾力支持修例,作為建制派第一大黨的民建聯近日已表明,如果政府認為「撤回」修例有助修復社會,支持者會理解。有關說法已是給政府下台階,政府撤回修例不應再猶豫。

由土地房屋到安老醫療,香港民生問題堆積如山,牽涉大量既得利益和複雜政治問題,死結本來已經很緊,倘若事態進一步政治化,繼續原地踏步,只會令問題惡化。以土地供應問題為例,政府本已透過土地大辯論凝聚共識,過半數市民支持中部水域填海造島,未料修例一役政府元氣大傷,導致「明日大嶼」研究撥款議程要押後。倘若政府覓地建屋工作因為修例爭議「陪葬」,將是香港的不幸。

本年度立法會會期所餘無幾,財委會尚有數十項議程要處理,當中不乏教育民生等項目,包括中學IT創新實驗室、4間醫院重建或擴建工程等,如未能通過撥款,項目將受阻延4個月至1年不等。財委會主席陳健波表示正爭取與泛民議員會面,泛民認為沒有需要,他們會直接約見張建宗,提出泛民的審議撥款優次清單。泛民強調不要抹黑他們阻礙民生議題撥款,事態發展還看泛民與政府磋商結果。我們希望各方能盡量讓爭議較小的民生撥款得以通過,至於一些存在爭議的項目,諸如200億元購置社福設施、橫洲房屋項目等,亦應本着實事求是原則處理,避免將事情政治化。

■Glossary

coda﹕the final or extra part of a speech, event or piece of writing

loose end﹕a part of sth such as a story that has not been completely finished or explained

bread-and-butter﹕basic; very important

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