The new chief executive-elect Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor won 777 votes on March 26 and will become Hong Kong’s first female leader. Some people greeted the result with dismay, as they believe John Tsang Chun-wah, the most popular candidate with the public, should have won. While it is vital to improve the election system, we should focus more on how to make the best of what we have.
Looking back, Leung Chun-ying’s governance has been condemned, not without reasons: the government failed to listen to the people. From denying HKTV a free-to-air television licence to the Umbrella movement, Leung’s style was questionable and controversial, undermining the government’s credibility. This has led to mistrust between the citizens and the government.
If we look deeper into current issues, it is not difficult to see the gulf between the rulers and the population. Mutual understanding can never be achieved when the government slams its doors and the citizens fail to express their opinions through acceptable channels. This lack of understanding is a recurring problem that bars us from reaching compromise.
This is why “We Connect”, Lam’s campaign slogan, is the answer. If the chief executive-elect is to hold true to her word, the new government will be more open-minded and will care, listen and act. This invitation of communication from the new government opens an opportunity to foster understanding between government and society.
Lam has no doubt been an efficient chief secretary, shown by her reputation of being an “ice queen” and “lady of steel”. Together with the toughness demonstrated in her demolition of Queen’s Pier, Lam could make a trustworthy leader if she is willing to come down to earth and consider the public’s concerns.
It may seem absurd that Lam hopes to connect with people when she seems detached from the rest of society – she lacks the common knowledge of how to use an Octopus card or buy toilet paper – but her campaign slogan is still an attempt to communicate, demonstrating the intent of the new government to build bridges with the people, and that has been absent for a long time.
The Chinese proverb “going south by driving the chariot north” means to act in a way that defeats one’s purpose. This is a reminder to both the new government and fellow citizens. The government should bear in mind public opinion, or else any policies made will only steer them away from their promises. The more efficient they are, the further they will be from their destination.
Hongkongers should also voice their opinions appropriately and reasonably, or else mutual understanding will never be achieved. With Lam taking office in July, it is high time we reconsidered and mended our long-broken relationship with the government.