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Showing posts from January, 2010

High Speed, High Drama – Part 2 高鐵鬧劇-下卷

It frustrates and it infuriates. At times it makes us question the very future of our city.
The express rail link (XRL) controversy has hit a nerve in Hong Kong. What started out as a rubber-stamping exercise has snowballed into an all-out social movement gaining more momentum by the day. In less than two weeks, this runaway train will collide with the upcoming five constituencies resignation (五區總辭), a de facto referendum on political reforms staged by two pan-democratic parties. The collision is guaranteed to send shock waves through our political landscape not seen since the July 1st rally in 2003. And the new decade has barely begun.

As we well know and mourn, Hong Kong’s one-of-a-kind electoral system is as bizarre as some of the English names we give ourselves. Among other oddities, half of the 60 seats in our legislature are taken by “functional constituencies” (功能組別) elected by pro-establishment special interest groups and designed to keep democratically-elected lawmakers out …

High Speed, High Drama – Part 1 高鐵鬧劇-上卷

After weeks of floor debate and filibustering by pan-democratic lawmakers, the Legislative Council finally approved the HK$66.9 billion (US$8.6 billion) funding for the local section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (廣深港高速鐵路). The section will connect the city to the Mainland’s massive high-speed rail network, an ambitious program that boasts the world’s fastest and longest rail line among numerous other superlatives.

Given Hong Kongers’ penchant for convenience and connectivity, you would expect the public to welcome the new transport system with open arms and open wallets. Our government had certainly counted on the rail link proposal, like so many other infrastructure projects in the past, to sail through the legislature without anyone putting up much of a fight. 
But the proposal has instead stirred up a hornets’ nest and landed the government in the center of one of the biggest political crises in recent memory. Angry protestors besieged the legislature buil…