英文

Editorial : A platform for dialogue is worth a try

【明報專訊】THE GOVERNMENT has proposed the creation of a platform for dialogue in the hope of seeking a way out of the current situation with people from different social strata and with different political views. No problem can be solved by violence. In the last analysis, conflicts and disagreements have to be resolved through dialogue. Recently the heads of several universities and people with status have expressed support for the creation of a platform for dialogue and offered to act as go‑betweens. Though last night saw another confrontation between police and citizens at Yuen Long, the road of rational dialogue should not be given up easily.

Last Sunday hundreds of thousands of people took part in a rally organised by the Civil Human Rights Front. The rally was peaceful throughout; no violent clashes happened. Chief executive Carrie Lam expressed hope that that would be "the beginning of the restoration of calm and the renunciation of violence" in society, adding that the government would start building a platform for dialogue immediately. On Saturday Carrie Lam will meet with two dozen people who come from different sectors and "whose hearts are in the right place" in the first preparatory meeting on how to build the platform. Hong Kong's situation remains perilous. After several days of calm, a confrontation happened again between radical protesters and police last night at Yuen Long station on the West Rail Line. It remains to be seen whether the road of "peace, rationality and non‑violence" will re‑dominate the movement. Still there is now a golden opportunity to de‑escalate the situation, which should not be passed up easily.

Carrie Lam stresses that she is sincere about dialogue with different sectors of society. But protesters and the pan‑democrats are sceptical. The Civil Human Rights Front argues that the platform for dialogue will only be a "public relations exercise" and a "trap" and has refused to take part in it. Several pan‑democratic lawmakers have also expressed doubt that it is just the government's delaying tactics. Some protesters have reiterated that they do not want a platform but the government's fulfilment of "the five major demands".

Early this year French president Emmanuel Macron initiated a national debate. In his letter to the French people, he said something very meaningful, "We will not agree on everything, but at least we can prove that the French people will not shy away from frank expression of their minds and exchange of views. Maybe we will find that we can agree on many more things than we thought." Judging from the highly polarised atmosphere in society, it is unlikely that the government and pan‑democrats can sit down for talks at once. However, as soon as a platform comes into existence, more room for communication can be created gradually.

In the national debate initiated by Macron in France, nationals were asked to express their views on four major topics, including taxes, national agencies and public administration. To facilitate discussion, Macron included some specific questions in the open letter, asking the French people what were the taxes they thought should be lowered and how they could have a bigger say in the governance of the country. He also told the French people candidly that some unrealistic expectations, such as lowering taxes without reducing public expenditure, were not things the government could achieve. After three months' intense visits to districts and meetings with local legislators, workers, students, etc., Macron announced a series of tax‑reduction measures. Though not everyone was happy with such responses and the "Yellow Vest" movement did not come to an end completely, it was at least a result of deliberation with the public, and stability has returned to French society to a large extent. The SAR government can take note of the experience of France.

明報社評2019.08.22:盼民憤轉化成出路 對話平台再難也要試

政府提出構建對話平台,盼與不同階層、不同政見人士溝通尋找出路。暴力不能解決問題,始終要靠對話排難息爭,近期多位大學校長和有名望社會人士均支持設立對話平台,願意充當中間人,雖然昨晚元朗又有警民對峙,然而理性對話之路不應輕易放棄。

剛過去的周日,數以十萬計市民參與民陣集會,過程和平未生衝突,特首林鄭月娥表示希望這是社會「回復平靜、遠離暴力的開始」,政府會馬上構建對話平台。本周六林鄭將與20多位不同界別「有心人」,就如何構建對話平台舉行首次籌備會議。目前香港形勢依然嚴峻,經過數天平靜之後,昨晚西鐵元朗站又有激進示威者與警方對峙,「和理非」(和平、理性、非暴力)能否真的重佔主導,仍需更多時間觀察,可是刻下始終是讓危機降溫的良機,不應輕易錯過。

林鄭強調有誠意與社會各界對話,示威者和泛民則有所懷疑。民陣認為對話平台是「公關騷、陷阱」,拒絕加入,多位泛民議員亦質疑這是政府的拖延策略。有示威者則重申,他們要的不是什麼平台,而是政府滿足「五大訴求」。

今年初法國總統馬克龍發起全國大辯論,他在致國民的公開信,說了一段很有意思的話:「我們不會事事意見一致,但至少我們可證明,法國人不怕暢所欲言交換意見和辯論,也許我們會發現,原來大家能夠同意的事,比之前想像的多。」觀乎現時本港高度對立氛圍,難望政府與示威者和泛民一下子能坐下對話,然而只要有了平台,自然有逐步擴大的溝通空間。

在法國,馬克龍發起的全國大辯論,邀請國民就四大主題,包括稅務、國家機關與公共行政等表達意見。為了方便討論,馬克龍在公開信拋出了一些具體問題,諸如國民覺得哪些稅項應降低、如何讓人民在國家管治上有更大發言權等,同時亦坦白告訴國民,一些脫離實際的期望,諸如減稅之餘又不減公共開支,政府實在無法做到。經過3個月密集落區與地方議員、工人、學生等對話後,馬克龍宣布了一系列減稅措施。雖然這些回應舉措並非人人滿意,黃背心示威亦未完全止息,然而這至少是與民共商後的結果,法國社會得以回復基本穩定。這些經驗值得特區政府參考。

■Glossary

stratum : a class in a society

go-between : a person who takes messages between one person or group and another

delaying tactics : actions that are intended to make something happen more slowly, in order to win an advantage

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