Opportunity for Hong Kong to put its house in order
It might be too early to breathe a sigh of relief assuming that the demonstrations in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region will end soon. But there are indeed signs, suggesting that the city, plagued by two months of violence, could be on the right track to end the disturbances.
Over the past several days, the city has been spared the violence that had become a common occurrence since the middle of June. The latest public rally organized by the demonstrators on Sunday was generally peaceful, with the attendees expressing their opinions in a civilized manner. It is hoped that weeks of turbulence have finally brought home the message that violence will get them nowhere.
The newfound peace has afforded the SAR government a chance to seek an end to the current turmoil through dialogue. Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, chief executive of the HKSAR, said on Tuesday the SAR government will set up a communication platform to hold dialogue with the Hong Kong community, with the aim of helping the city move on from the present undesirable situation.
She also said there will be a fact-finding inquiry into the causes of the protests and the police response to them.
Members of the city's opposition camp should be realistic and pragmatic when putting forward their demands. Any demands or proposals raised in the process must be reasonable and fall within the bounds of law, particularly the Basic Law. Indeed, that the radicals have been insisting on unreasonable and illegal demands has been the reason the upheaval has dragged on for over two months, causing huge damage to the city.
Dialogue can help enhance mutual understanding among different elements in society. But it would be unrealistic for anyone to expect that a panacea for all of Hong Kong's deep-seated social problems can be found in one fell swoop.
In extending an olive branch, the SAR government has undoubtedly expressed its sincere desire to end the current chaotic situation in the city. But this friendly gesture should in no way be interpreted as an invitation for illegal and unreasonable demands from political radicals.
Previously, the SAR government had shunned the idea of holding dialogue with protesters. No legitimate government in the world will allow itself to be forced into holding dialogue with insurrectionists through intimidation. Should the demonstrators continue to use violence and make farfetched demands, the opportunity for dialogue will be lost.