HKJA Chief Fears 'destruction' Of SAR's Strengths

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2020-08-02 HKT 09:27

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  • Chris Yeung says a failed policy of banning dining in at restaurants demonstrated that the administration is out of touch with ordinary people. Photo: RTHK

    Chris Yeung says a failed policy of banning dining in at restaurants demonstrated that the administration is out of touch with ordinary people. Photo: RTHK

The chairman of the Hong Kong Journalists Association has said the events of the past week show that the SAR's fundamental strengths are being destroyed, as he urged Beijing to rethink whether it wants the city to be just like the mainland.

Chris Yeung cited the sacking of University of Hong Kong academic Benny Tai after his conviction for his role in the 2014 Occupy protests, the disqualification of 12 Legislative Council election candidates and the arrest of four young pro-independence activists.

"The chain of events in the past week has deepened fears that Hong Kong is now on a slippery slope towards destruction," Yeung said on RTHK's Letter to Hong Kong programme, which was recorded before Friday's announcement that the Legco poll would be postponed.

"Beijing thinks otherwise. They hope that the national security law could restore peace in the city in the long-run. That remains to be seen.

"But the scale of destruction to the city’s fundamental strengths – autonomy, freedom and rights, institutions and ties with the world – has already proved to be alarmly large.

"It is never too late for Beijing to ask themselves whether they really want Hong Kong to be the same as mainland China and, if the answer is no, what they should do."

Yeung also criticised the government for its rapidly abandoned policy of extending a ban on dine-in service at restaurants for the full day. The anti-pandemic measure had originally applied only in the evening and overnight.

"Pictures of people taking meals at roadside, construction sites, staircases and even inside toilets went viral on social media, fuelling public anger towards the government.

"In an unprecedented and embarrassing U-turn, the government put an end to the ban on Thursday. It took effect on Friday. Still, the damage to the already-unpopular Carrie Lam administration is done.

"The 'dining-in saga' is yet another goal given away by the team, if there is still one, because of their incompetence, oversight and, more importantly, lack of empathy towards the difficulties of people in their daily life."