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






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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