Saying farewell to Mainland mothers!
Not surprisingly, the relatively unpopular Chief Executive-elect C Y Leung took the easy road to boost his popularity last week – barring Mainland mothers who, let’s not forget, every Hongkonger loathes, from coming to give birth by giving private hospitals a good ‘zero quota’ next year.
He even snuffed out Mainland mums’ final hope of rushing into the emergency wards to give birth by saying he ‘will not promise’ that those babies can have immediate permanent residency in Hong Kong.
And the impact was immediate. The next day, in an early morning RTHK phone-in show, scores of people called in saying they ‘totally agree with Mr Leung!’ Their admiration and excitement was palpable, and the shock and fury of private hospitals was palpable too – by complaining that many of them would now have to close down.
While middlemen agencies began calling Leung’s bluff, the incumbent health chief York Chow Yat-ngok was happy to ‘leave it to the next administration to determine the quota’ – or do we detect a faint protest here that he was now out of the game?
Liberal Party chairman Miriam Lau Kin-yee, who didn’t attend a ‘reuniting dinner’ held for Leung and Henry Tang’s supporters (opting for pork chop rice at Café de Coral instead), finally met Leung a few days later. She sounded satisfied with the meeting and said Leung had agreed to deal with the Mainland mother issue by addressing some of the legal questions relating to the right of abode for their new-born children.
But who should be determining this quota?
The democrats can argue that he didn’t take a consensus to reach the ‘zero quota’. On the other hand, there doesn’t seem to be a rule that he actually needs a consensus to decide a quota in the first place. In other words, Leung has made a risky move. It certainly appeals to the common people – but his strongman style also deepens the fear among democrats who already mistrust his motives.
Lingering between the pros and cons for too long will lead to yet another inactive administration, like the one we now have under the outgoing Donald Tsang. At the end of the day, how can we make a decent omelette if we don’t break a few eggs? How indeed.
If Leung was a braver man, there are plenty of social issues for him to solve and ‘gain’ popularity. Why not start with Mainland cars? The Shek Kwu Chau incinerator sounds a good one too. And how about giving us some affordable housing? Too complicated? Then let’s help the elderly with decent places to live first...