This City is Dying (II)

The Fortune magazine predicted that Hong Kong will die after 1997.

After 14.5 years of governing by the CEs Tung Chi Hwa and Donald Tsang, miraculously, HK is not yet dead but only dying.

HK is dying in the sense that we did  not make much progress in the last 14.5 years. There were a lot of missed opportunities.

Obviously there are many issues, some of them are also inter-related:

Government

Government is getting too big and too slow in responding to changes.

Clearly, the HK Government is no longer in the “Development” mode as in the 70s -90s, they have switched to the “Avoidance of Blame” mode. The Government is  spending too much efforts in defending itself from politicians, environmentalists, villagers and pressure groups rather than getting the job done. Recently, Government officials are getting even more worried that they may be blamed for colluding with the big businessman and therefore are behaving as bureaucrats, leading to inefficiencies. We need both vision and efficiency.

Citizens

We are no longer a harmonious or tolerant society. We are more eager in safe guarding our own interest than acting for common interest and more interested in dividing the economic pie. Perhaps there is a feeling of not being equitably treated in various levels of the society. There is a lack of coherence within the society. . . . .maybe this is the deep rooted conflict referred to by Premier Wen.

Businessmen

Many corporations do not take on the necessary Corporate Social Responsibility. They are getting bigger each day by forming conglomerates which small business cannot compete with.

They benefit from the existing policies so much that they are not even fighting back on some of the regulations which make HK less and less of a free market, thereby reducing the competitiveness of HK.

Politicians

Many politicians are in there for their own sake.  They are not involved in governing and are not accountable for anything.

Loss of Competitiveness

We are known to be too expensive, in terms of both wages and real estate. Real estates are expensive because there has been a lack of land supply or replanning of existing land use.

If we are targeting at tourism, financial and retail, we must quickly get our acts together to provide more space for offices, shopping centers and tourist attractions.

We could have increased our competitiveness by repegging to the US dollar at a lower rate but government is worried that this change would lead to currency speculation which destabilize the status quo.

Education

Our education system is not turning out enough bright people with independent thinking, people who are innovative and have leadership skills.

Our universities have failed to help HK to develop a creative or innovative culture; failed to produce enough doctors and some other professionals. They are more keen in being ranked high in the global arena. This requires  teaching staff to dedicate a lot of their efforts in producing countless research papers instead of focusing on teaching the students.

Environment

We have too many people portraying themselves as environmentalists, although in fact, they are politicians.

Low Birth Rate

Our aging population is not inducive to long-term growth. The HK couples are more concerned about making money than making babies. You can’t blame them. They need to make sufficient money for paying housing rents, save up for buying a property, future education of their kids,  for the rainy days and  for their retirement. . . . there is basically no hope that the MPF or social security system can be relied on. The uncertainties in the future have deterred them from reproducing more. The birth rate at 1.07% is lower than those for Singapore, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea. This may set up a vicious cycle and the resulting population structure will not be good for HK in the long-term.

Survival

The main reason for HK’s continuing survival is that we are still considered worthy as  testing ground and laboratory for the Mainland. We need to evolve ourselves so that we are seen to provide the best soft and hard infrastructure in the region.

We also need stronger leaders than just  pigs and wolves.

Despite the above signs of dying, we have to be optimistic. HongKongers are known to be intelligent and have overcome  many hardships and  obstacles in the past. Without a shadow of doubt, we will have the strength and wisdom to find a way out in this brave new world!