英文

Editorial : The mistake concerning Return2hk must not be repeated

【明報專訊】The COVID-19 outbreak in Guangzhou's Liwan District caused the SAR government to cancel the Return2hk travel scheme at one point. Now the number of cases has increased from two to four. It remains to be seen how things will unfold and how the Return2hk travel scheme will be affected.

That the government excluded all Hong Kong people living in Guangdong Province from the Return2hk scheme just because of an outbreak in a micro-district in Liwan, Guangzhou was, strictly speaking, not a screw-up. It was ignorance about the things going on on the piece of land measuring 9.6 million square kilometres to the north of Shenzhen River. That was comparable to the barbaric actions taken when the pandemic was at its most serious stage on the mainland — the erection of iron barriers at the entrances of some villages to prevent everyone from entering or leaving the village. That was, in essence, an inaccurate execution of the policies formulated by the central government.

The SAR government's mistake of expanding the scope of the suspension of the travel scheme from a micro-district in Liwan to the entire Guangdong Province was not the first of its kind. Back when there were outbreaks in some areas of Liaoning and Anhui provinces (there are still 22 medium-risk zones in these two provinces), the SAR government banned Hong Kong residents in these two provinces from returning to Hong Kong via the Return2hk scheme. However, the mistake was not exposed back then, as there were no Hong Kongers returning to Hong Kong from these two provinces. Therefore, the banning of Hong Kongers living in the entire Guangdong province simply because there were two cases in Liwan District was consistent with the government's established policies. Governments in many countries or regions make mistakes. The problem is that the mistake of treating a local outbreak that happened in a micro-district as if it was happening in the entire province was not spotted by anyone in the entire SAR government, officials from the Liaison Office or the National Health Commission.

The fact that the SAR government did not focus on how to handle the lists of areas of different risks issued by the National Health Commission in their internal discussions was, if viewed from a less stringent perspective, not its fault. For it has absolutely no idea about how it is done by the mainland authorities at different levels. The health code scheme is in place in all provinces on the mainland, accurately recording the travel history of every person. The health code turns red if someone stays in a risky region. There are records of every place that every person has been to — nothing can hide from the watchful eye of the system. Conversely, if someone has simply travelled to the periphery of a risky region, such as the districts outside the risky zone in Liwan, the health code stays green, and the person will not encounter any difficulty entering or leaving other venues. There is also a travel code that records the provinces and cities that someone has been to over the past 14 days.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam recently announced that she would sign an agreement with the Guangdong provincial government under which the civil servants from the two governments would go on exchanges and take up temporary positions. Why hasn't the SAR government acted on this proposal immediately and applied it to disease control departments first? The reopening of the border between Hong Kong and the mainland is the top priority of Hong Kong. It is believed that both regions are working towards this goal. The efforts of the governments of the two regions must not be hampered by misunderstanding. Nor should misunderstanding delay the reopening of the border. The SAR government should explain to millions of people eager for the reopening of the border how it will take the initiative to address the misunderstanding.

明報社評2021.05.28:「回港易」烏龍不可再 官員應即掛職內地

引發特區政府一度取消「回港易」的廣州荔灣區疫情,確診病例從兩宗增加到4宗,發展情况以及如何影響「回港易」安排,還要拭目以待。

廣州市荔灣區其中一個小區出現疫情,特區政府將居住在整個廣東省的香港居民剔除在「回港易」的範圍之外,嚴格來說,不是烏龍,是其對深圳河以北的960萬平方公里一無所知,這跟內地疫情嚴峻之時,一些農村在村口架起鐵馬,禁止所有人進出的野蠻行為不相伯仲,實質上是不準確執行中央制定的政策。

特區政府誤將荔灣區一小區擴大為整個廣東省,其實並非首創,在遼寧省和安徽省個別地區出現疫情(目前仍然有22個中風險地區),就禁止這兩個省份的港人使用「回港易」,只不過這種錯誤做法沒有被識破,原因是沒有港人從這兩個省份回港,所以荔灣區出現兩宗病例就禁止整個廣東省的港人用「回港易」,是既定政策。不少國家或地區政府都會犯錯,問題是將局部小區的疫情擴大到整個省份的錯誤,竟然整個特區政府沒有人發現,中聯辦官員沒有發現,國家衛健委也沒有發現。

特區政府內部沒有聚焦討論過,如何執行國家衛健委公布風險地區名單的問題,寬容一點看,也不能怪特區政府,因為他們根本不清楚內地各級政府是如何執行的。內地各省都有健康碼,準確記錄每一個人的行蹤軌迹,只要在風險地區逗留一定時間,健康碼馬上變紅,持有人到過什麼地方都有紀錄,無所遁形;反之,即使到過風險地區周邊的地方,諸如這次荔灣區風險地區以外的街區,健康碼都會維持綠色,出入其他地方不會遇到麻煩。另有行程碼會記錄持有人在過去14天到過什麼省市。

特首林鄭月娥日前宣布,將會與廣東省政府簽訂協議,互換公務員到對方部門掛職,何不坐言起行,在衛生防疫部門率先實施。通關是香港的頭等大事,相信兩地都在朝着通關的目標努力,兩地政府的努力,不能因為誤會而產生芥蒂,更不能因為誤會而阻延通關,特區政府如何採取主動打破隔閡,應該對萬千希望盡快通關的市民有所交代。

■Glossary

生字

act on sth : to take action as a result of advice, information, etc

hamper : to prevent sb from easily doing or achieving sth

take the initiative : if you take the initiative in a situation, you are the first person to act, and are therefore able to control the situation

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