Editorial:Open society needs opposition

【明報專訊】Dozens of people who organised or participated in last year's democratic primaries have been arrested by the police allegedly because they have committed the crime of inciting the subversion of state power under the Hong Kong National Security Law.

The authorities stressed that the enforcement of the law was mainly aimed at those who ''strategically and systematically'' wanted to paralyse the SAR government, and the police would not launch criminal investigations against the voters. However, it cannot be denied that the incident is a very big political shock, and it has dealt a heavy blow to the opposition. A large number of prominent incumbents from the pro-democracy camp and the localist camp have been targeted, and it is uncertain whether they will be able to run in this year's Legislative Council election if it can be held smoothly. It remains to be seen whether the incident will exacerbate the exodus from Hong Kong and whether there will be more sanctions from the West, but it is believed that the authorities had already considered the issue before they took this step.

Arrest does not necessarily lead to imprisonment. However, no matter how the court handles this case in the future, the political environment in Hong Kong is bound to change, and all parties must be realistic and think about the way out. If the opposition does not adjust the radical and combative approach of the previous two years, it will be difficult to have room for further activities in the system. The unprecedented efforts made by the authorities to suppress the violence and the ''scorched-earth'' plan are undoubtedly successful in terms of power politics, but the issue of people's minds and deep-seated political conflicts are still to be resolved. After more than a year and a half of political torment and the impact of the pandemic, people are really exhausted mentally and crave for an early recovery of the economy and their livelihood. However, on the political front, social division and confrontation remain. While violence on the streets is no longer present, it does not mean that the public sentiment has changed drastically from the District Council election the year before last. Even if the opposition's advocacy of a ''political scorched-earth'' plan has violated the national security law and backfired on itself, the authorities still have to figure out how to rebuild the relationship with the nearly two million people who support the opposition.

Hong Kong is standing at such a crossroads in history, and people have polarised views on which direction to head. With each side asserting that the other is on the wrong path, no one can convince another. However, even if history proves that the path chosen now is the proper one, if the process does not take into account the concerns of the party being arrested and fails to mitigate the conflicts and confrontations, the road will certainly be filled with unhappiness, hostility and tensions.

Looking back at the situation in Hong Kong over the past year and a half, everyone has to acknowledge the political reality that ''one country, two systems'' is the arrangement that best serves the interests of Hong Kong. If one ignores ''one country'' and chooses to shake things up, the ''two systems'' will also be impacted. At the same time, as an open society, Hong Kong must also have opposition voices. As long as the opposition accepts the framework of ''one country, two systems'', they should have room to pursue their activities. To untie the political knot in Hong Kong, all parties must be practical and realistic. The greater the power, the greater the responsibility. If all parties uphold the ''one country, two systems'' line of demarcation, there is still room for Hong Kong.

明報社評 2021.01.07:開放社會需要反對派 朝野實事求是求出路






■/ Glossary 生字 /

pursue /pəˈsjuː/:to do sth or try to achieve sth over a period of time

untie /ʌnˈtaɪ/:to undo a knot in sth; to undo sth that is tied

knot /nɒt/:a join made by tying together two pieces or ends of string, rope, etc.


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