Christine Loh

30 September 2005
(CEO, Civic Exchange, Hong Kong)
I spent my childhood years blissfully, not realizing many things about the world about me. My parents were entirely non-political. They wanted me to have a good education and comfortable life. As good Chinese parents, they believe we should keep away from government's way. This fit well with British colonialism where as subjects, we were encouraged to focus on self-improvement and advancement, not politics. In my 20s, I fell in with a 'bad crowd'. I met a bunch of youngsters who dared to question authority. We got rather good at it. In the mid-1980s, it became obvious that colonialism would end and Hong Kong would become a part of China in 1997. I became politically more active in articulating our future. While self-determination was not on offer, automomy was. In 1992, amazingly I became a member of parliament in Hong Kong. I took up issues relating to women's right, democratic reform, and environmental protection. In 1997, the legislature was replaced by an appointed body to pass new electoral laws to restrict the franchise for half the seats. In 1998, I stood for election and won, and served till 2000 when I decided I should focus on public policy by creating a non-profit think tank rather than frontline politics. Today, I believe Hong Kong people need to guard their autonomy, reinforce the rule of law, value diversity, exercise their freedoms, and protect the environment.  We also need to play our civic role as citizens of the People's Republic of China. In a country where even the government acknowledges that the challenges are fighting corruption, poverty, income inequality and pollution, for us living in the wealthy city of Hong Kong, we need to make a contribution to finding solutions to these problems.
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