POP Site From the Editor - When China falls sick, Hong Kong could be dyingBack


Wrecked havoc by atypical pneumonia, Hong Kong is just like hell.


Three months ago I wrote here, "The year 2002 was hard to endure, and there is still no light from the other side of the tunnel." Three months later, the nightmare has just begun.


On March 4, the index patient of the epidemic died in Hong Kong. One day later, the Financial Secretary delivered his Budget speech. As it turned out, FS was quickly caught in a controversy over his car purchase, while atypical pneumonia flared up in Hong Kong like wild fire. These supposedly independent events quickly combined to somewhat verify the "unlucky fortune stick" drawn by the Secretary for Home Affairs earlier in the year - talk about ill omens.


Is it a punishment from heaven? Or is it man-made? Different people have different things to say. Social scientists, however, cannot turn to superstitious beliefs because, after all, there is always a reason behind any social calamity.


The author believes that had there not been an accountability system which came out of nowhere, FS would not have made his mistakes so easily. Without a leadership core which commands respect from the people, the mechanism to plug holes and intercept crisis in our society naturally fails. Without the free flow of information across the border, our front-line medical workers could do nothing but search in the dark.


Turning crises into opportunities, our much-creditable medical staff working at the forefront, by their stark effort, has been conscientiously buying time for our microbiologists to work out the pathogenesis of the mysterious disease. Every one of us is their beneficiary. In contrast, palm-rubbing tricks with chants like "Confident! Confident! We are fully confident!" could do little help except to remind us of feudalistic yells like "Your Majesty! Your Majesty! Long live Your Majesty!", which have in every way failed to cater for the public need in the knowledge era.


Truth is priceless, whereas face-saving and personal favour are the real killers. As the mystery of the corona virus gradually unfolds, the true spirit of scientific enquiry is commended. Lies and misrepresentation are only there to uphold the vanity of national glory and dignity. Making wishy-washy moves instead of taking determined action is perhaps only meant to demonstrate one's kindness and affection for one's subordinates. Between science and fiction, and between the rule of law and the rule of men, nothing could be clearer


When China succeeds, Hong Kong will prosper; when China falls sick, Hong Kong could be dying. The corona virus and bird flu are both solid examples of this. Today, with China's WTO accession, fighting against the epidemic is no longer an isolated task for one country or territory. International cooperation and multi-operation is the trend. Constructing a better China while anchoring ourselves firmly to the world is a mission for every one of us in Hong Kong. Keep relying on the Mainland with simple economic motives would only make us lose sight of our own advantages, and lose touch with our own people. Atypical pneumonia is one good example, opinion research could be another.


May it be medical or social studies, if we in Hong Kong do not guard our posts well, what do we have left to offer to our compatriots when the time comes?


Robert Ting-Yiu Chung
April 4, 2003