Dr Jonathan CHOI Koon-shum (Chairman of the 51st terms of office) June 2020
Social harmony and stability are conducive to a safe and stable business environment, which allows the community to focus on promoting economic and social developments and Hong Kong to embark on a new journey.
As the COVID-19 situation in Hong Kong improves and various sectors are trying to revive the local economy, violent incidents seem to be reemerging in the community, adding burden to the fragile economy and business environment. The Central government’s national security legislation can stabilize the social situation and protect the legal rights of the majority of Hong Kong residents and businesses.
Ensuring a stable environment
In late May, the National People’s Congress approved resolution to impose national security legislation in Hong Kong and entrusted its Standing Committee to make Hong Kong national security laws in such a way that the legislation will not affect the normal operation of Hong Kong and foreign investors while the Basic Law will still protect the freedoms and rights of Hong Kong residents.
Illegal violent behaviors challenge the rule of law, threaten public safety and social order, and harm the business environment. A few individuals even facilitate foreign intervention and instigate the independence of Hong Kong. The national security legislation can prevent Hong Kong from becoming a national security loophole. In the long run, it is crucial for the creation of a more stable and secure business environment which will in turn protect companies and people’s livelihood.
Tackling the challenge in solidarity
Hong Kong’s economy shrank 8.9% in the first quarter of 2020, the worst decline on record. Unemployment rate hit a 10-year high between February and April, up 5.2% and is expected to worsen. We welcome the “Employment Support Scheme” launched by the HKSAR government, which we believe will help business owners avoid having to dismiss their employees or shut down their businesses. I also hope CGCC members can support the signature campaign initiated by “Hong Kong Coalition” to encourage businesses to secure employment.
On another note, the Minimum Wage Commission is currently reviewing the legislated minimum wage. We believe that many industries have suffered in varying degrees and more and more businesses are downsizing or even closing down. Businesses may not be able to redeploy resources to cope with increased labor cost resulting from an increased minimum wage. We believe the authorities should consider freezing the minimum wage level or even adjust it downward to avoid dealing a further blow to the business environment.
Deepening connection in the Greater Bay Area
For the first time in a decade, Hong Kong finds itself in an economic recession. It is an urgent task to restore economic order. Premier Li Keqiang emphasized in the government work report at the Two Sessions this year that effort should be focused on safeguarding employment and livelihood for the people. With backing from the motherland, Hong Kong should actively grasp the opportunities arising from the various Mainland policies aimed at stimulating economic and social developments, and speed up its integration into the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (Greater Bay Area) development blueprint.
With the COVID-19 situation basically under control in the Greater Bay Area, the free flow of people, products, capital and information within the area should be resumed as soon as possible. Once the COVID-19 pandemic is over, seamless integration of the Greater Bay Area cities should be gradually realized. The cities can also strengthen cooperation in the area of information and technology (I&T) through such means as setting up a dedicated committee to coordinate the policy planning, development and management of the I&T sectors and deepen exchange among the researchers and professionals in the Greater Bay Area.
To sum up, social order will be restored only when national security is safeguarded. Social harmony and stability are conducive to a safe and stable business environment, which allows the community to focus on promoting economic and social developments and Hong Kong to embark on a new journey.