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Monday, December 09, 2019, 02:21
Experts call for renewed dialogue in community
By Kathy Zhang
Monday, December 09, 2019, 02:21 By Kathy Zhang

Hong Kong affairs observers at a seminar held on Sunday say now is an appropriate time to restart dialogue in a society embroiled in political discord. PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Now is an appropriate time to restart and expand dialogues to address Hong Kong’s prolonged social unrest, according to experts who specialize in Hong Kong affairs.

But all dialogues must be held with the understanding that the Basic Law and the “one country, two systems” principle are not to be challenged, they also said on Sunday.

Society requires more non-governmental powers — including think tanks, NGOs and different commissions — to be involved to help the city move forward

Christine Loh Kung-wai, former undersecretary for environment

The remarks came during a seminar held by the One Country Two Systems Youth Forum (OCTS Youth Forum) amid another mass anti-government protest on Sunday. A book launch of A Debate of Two Systems was held before the talk.

The Hong Kong government in September held its first community dialogue that was widely regarded as a good start to heal the city’s crisis. However, the continued and escalating citywide violence and vandalism have halted further dialogues.

It’s time for Hong Kong to continue the suspended dialogues on the city’s current issue as the violence gradually dies down in the wake of the District Council Election, said Henry Ho Kin-chung, founder and chairman of the OCTS Youth Forum.

The Hong Kong government should continue taking a leading role to talk to residents of different districts and sectors on broader topics, Ho said, adding that more senior officials should be involved in community dialogues in the future.

Ho also called for more dialogues organized by non-governmental organizations on the city’s recent crisis and future development.

Having peaceful non-governmental talks is the first and crucial step to awaken rational voices and curb the violence, as well as to seek and reach a consensus between the different camps, Ho said.

Echoing Ho, Christine Loh Kung-wai, former undersecretary for environment, said that society requires more non-governmental powers — including think tanks, NGOs and different commissions — to be involved to help the city move forward.

The topics discussed during dialogues should include not only the current crisis, but also livelihood issues, said Loh, a professor at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

Tian Feilong, a member of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies — the nation’s major think tank related to Hong Kong affairs — said the city should also discuss how to safeguard the rule of law as Hong Kong’s cornerstone, but one that has been repeatedly challenged during the months-long unrest.

Tian stressed all debates and dialogues must be held under the premise of complying with the Basic Law and the “one country, two systems” principle. These are the bottom line and red line of the conversation, he said

kathyzhang@chinadailyhk.com

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