MR CHAN KIN-POR (in Cantonese): President, when the Individual Visit Scheme (IVS) was launched in 2003, it was indeed a panacea to the weak economy of Hong Kong. At that time, the economy of Hong Kong was in dire straits after experiencing the financial turmoil and SARS outbreak. The IVS stimulated the tourism industry and the retail market, leading our overall economy towards gradual recovery. Nevertheless, the number of visitor arrivals from the Mainland increased substantially from 6.3 million in 2006 to 47 million last year. As Hong Kong is just a tiny place, it is not easy to receive such a huge number of visitors. Moreover, the living habits of Mainland visitors are quite different from those of Hong Kong people, and with the rising number of visitors, cultural conflicts would arise easily. If the then Government was far-sighted and had taken measures to divert the visitors and introduced some remedial measures, such as improving tourism facilities, enhancing the capacity in receiving visitors and optimizing the IVS policy to ease the conflicts on all sides, the situation of today would not have arisen.
In recent years, as the Legislative Council has become highly politicized, some Members keep filibustering and have initiated the non-cooperation movement, the energy of the legislature has thus been wasted on meaningless political struggles and it has failed to focus on dealing with issues concerning people’s livelihood. The work on monitoring the development of society has not been done properly, no timely discussion has been seriously held on the IVS policy and the problems incurred and no comprehensive follow-up actions have been taken. As a matter of fact, the Legislative Council should also assume some responsibilities.
In fact, recently, incidents of protestors harassing Mainland visitors with violence have occurred frequently, causing instant impacts on the tourism industry. The recent drop in the number of visitors may be attributed to Mainlanders fearing to visit Hong Kong after watching news footage of protestors kicking suitcases of other people. The behaviour of protestors really has served the purpose of scaring visitors away. Meanwhile, it is worrying that the international image of Hong Kong will be tarnished when people around the world have seen such scenes of conflict. Hong Kong has to pay a high price for this kind of brutality. The local economy is stagnant now, the performance of the retail market is particularly poor, and the property market is crisis-ridden. Once there is an economic downturn, everyone in Hong Kong will suffer.
In the face of the social grievances towards IVS and the resulting cultural conflicts, the proper way of handling will be trying to ease the grievances and rectify the loopholes in the system, so as to restore peace in society. A kind-hearted person will adopt this approach. When a kind-hearted person sees his friends quarrelling, he will surely try to stop them instead of adding fuel to the fire. Appallingly, there are people who not only refuse to help to solve conflicts, but keep sowing discord. They stir up conflicts between different races or clans, direct the radicals to be hostile to Mainland visitors, magnify indefinitely the uncivilized behaviour of visitors to intentionally create confrontation between Hong Kong people and Mainland visitors, and lastly, they even instigate the radicals to use violence against visitors. Sadly, the victims are the elderly, women and even children. I trust most members of the public feel distressed and helpless when they see such a scene, wondering why people have degenerated to such a state? People who stir up trouble do so for getting personal gain by causing harm to society. These people are in fact the lowest wretches who do things that normal people will never do. They try to get ballots by sowing discord and will eventually be condemned by their own conscience and spurned by the public.
Many Members propose amendments today. Some Members propose to delete the words “recently some people have even used violence to harass tourists who ‘appear’ to come from the Mainland and local people” in the original motion; and the amendment proposed by Dr KWOK Ka-ki is most exaggerated, he proposed to replace the above clause by “there have even been a number of clashes between the Police and members of the public”. In fact, all people of Hong Kong have seen the scene of protestors treating visitors with violence; only Dr KWOK Ka-ki fails to see the fact and even describes the incidents as clashes between the Police and members of the public. He is simply talking black into white, trying to cheat the people of Hong Kong. On the one hand, he tries to whitewash the atrocities of the protestors and shifts the responsibilities onto the Police on the other. I will definitely oppose such a mean practice of confusing right and wrong.
I so submit.