Public consultation gets derailed

Public consultation gets derailed

By Ling Pak-ki, University of Hong Kong

There has been heated debate over whether the controversial Hong Kong section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link should be built.

Although the project is important to the future competitiveness of Hong Kong, there's something else worth discussing at the moment.

Firstly, it is good to see different views being expressed. All members of a modern society have the right to speak out on social issues and fight for their own interests. But mutual respect and understanding are also vital in finding a compromise.

The government should have foreseen the controversy the project would create, and consulted the general public in a better way.

It should have produced leaflets summarising the facts, and distributed these in places like railway stations.

It should have also provided more opportunities for the people of Hong Kong to speak out before the building of the Express Rail Link was given the go-ahead.

The public may then have been more willing to accept the project, and the construction could have proceeded more smoothly.

Undoubtedly, some destructive political forces are trying to use immature young people to influence the debate on this issue.

While political groups have the right to organise supporters, these young people should think carefully before taking sides. Otherwise, they will simply be used as pawns by the leaders of the political groups.

Since the government was not elected by the people of Hong Kong, its status is weaker than it could be. Therefore, it has to work harder to improve its public relations and its methods for consulting the citizens of Hong Kong before introducing new policies.

The government has to stop acting as though it always knows what is best for the public.

The Express Rail Link is only one of many similar controversial issues. To cope with these challenges more successfully in future, the government needs to adopt a more imaginative approach.

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