But, as we celebrate the Lunar New Year
, we can let bygones be bygones. Out with the old and in with the new, as they say – so, whether Messi likes to play anywhere he can except in Hong Kong, or whether he comes back, we will move on.
And we will move on with many lessons learned from the Year of the Rabbit. It’s been a year of kicking the man while he’s down, really. Remember how we were laughed at
by mainland social media users, who called our stock market’s Exchange Square headquarters a relic?
But I am hopeful we will rise above it all and show the world what Hong Kong is made of. This is a city of people who survived one of the most stringent Covid-19 quarantine measures in the world.
We were wrong to believe that, once we reopened our borders, people would rush in. They didn’t and we had to struggle with the disappointing recovery
. We’ve learned, though, that we cannot take anything for granted and that there are challenges which come with being integrated with the motherland and being its gateway to the world.
Once upon a time, we weren’t even a fishing village. Hong Kong was seen as just “a barren rock with nary a house upon it”
. We went from nothing to a financial powerhouse, dubbed one of the four Asian Tigers and an Asian miracle because of the hard work and ingenuity of the people. We were once kept out of affluent areas like The Peak, marginalised and left to live in unsanitary conditions. The Chinese were blatantly discriminated against, yet we thrived despite the marginalisation and exploitation.
So, when Messi tried to apologise and blamed “bad luck”
for not being able to play in the Hong Kong match, we don’t have to take it to heart. Sorry, but we’ve always made our own luck here. It’s in the Hong Kong spirit to find opportunities in challenges. May the Year of the Dragon be the year that we reignite the creative, innovative and resilient nature we are best known for.
And may this be the year we get back to basics. The government must learn what its job is: by now, it should know that it’s job is not to create “vibes”
for Hong Kong or entertain the people. And it needs to leave public relations to the professionals.
The government must get back to the Basic Law and do what it prescribes. For one thing, the government needs to safeguard the rights and freedoms of its residents (Article 4). It must also enact laws to protect national security (Article 23)
, like it is doing now.
It needs to draw up a balanced budget
(Article 107), something the financial secretary is working on. And the administration must formulate and implement policies, conduct administrative affairs, and ensure things run smoothly and effectively.
From what we’ve seen last year, there have been more than a few glitches and officials must look to deliver better policies and services for the people. And the chief executive must know by now that KPIs (key performance indicators
) are not the only benchmarks of good governance.
Messi or not, Hong Kong has groomed world-class athletes we can all be fans of. It is time to come together and root for Hong Kong, with each of us doing our part.
Alice Wu is a political consultant and a former associate director of the Asia Pacific Media Network at UCLA