香港新浪網 MySinaBlog
劉廼強 | 4th Aug 2009 | China Daily (Hong Kong Edition) | (21 Reads)

When I read the news that there are more (US dollar) millionaires in China than in Britain, I did a Google search and found to my surprise that there are over 10 million entries under “Chinese super-rich”. Private planes, expensive houses, yachts and cars, luxurious items, heavy betting in international casinos, beautiful women … you name it, it has become part of the life-style of Chinese super-rich. The 364,000 Chinese super-rich and their extravagant consumption behavior do catch the attention of Westerners, especially those who want to push their luxury items in this ballooning market.

In a developing country with a per capita GDP lower than US$3,000 and the Gini’s coefficient (which measures the income discrepancy in a country) standing at 0.45 high, the huge number of super-rich is not something to boast about. Although “getting rich is glorious” according to the venerable Deng Xiaoping, many of China’s super-rich did not get rich the right way, leaving behind them a trail of corruption. Their conspicuous consumption is one of the major causes of social discontent, which is now fuelling sporadic unrest throughout the country.

Living in Hong Kong and formerly a businessman myself, I do not have a “soak the rich” attitude. But on the other hand, we have to address a few very fundamental questions.

First and foremost: what is economic development for? For the reward and enjoyment of a handful of super-rich, or for the improvement of the quality of life for the masses?

Let us for the moment forget about social justice, just imagine how stability and prosperity can be sustained in a society with highly differentiated distribution of income.

In a high per-capita income society like Hong Kong, the Gini’s coefficient is as high as 0.53, and one in seven lives below the official poverty line. But in reality very few people live in abject poverty, and the average welfare payment per recipient is as high as 4,000 yuan ($590), with accompanying free housing and medical services.

However, on the mainland there are reportedly many who live in squalor, cannot pay for their only child’s education, cannot afford to get sick, and do not have any form of social security. They literally work their shirts off to barely get by. What do you think they would feel when they watch some people publicly flaunting their living in big houses, driving flashy cars, frequenting fancy restaurants, and fussing over beautiful women? How would they react when these super-rich openly use their money to get whatever they want and bully other people? Well, these are the major causes of anger expressed in the Internet and the unrest we sometimes see in the news.

Stamping out corruption is one thing, and this should be done as soon as possible; but more fundamentally, we should go back to the basic. The objective of economic development is to improve the general welfare of all people, not just a few. All people should have a fair chance to share the fruits of economic development. Or, to quote Deng Xiaoping again, “socialism is to let people get rich together”.

In fact, this is what our government is doing right now. Of the 4 trillion yuan stimulation package, quite a big chunk goes to improving people’s welfare, the rural population and migrant workers in particular. This is also in line with the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10) and the resolution of the 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. As such, sharing the fruits of economic development is expected to be an ongoing policy for many years to come. The labor share of the national income will have to expand, and more government spending will be directed towards general welfare: housing, education, health, and social security in particular.

On top of all these, conspicuous consumption is to be discouraged, not for any other reason but that this is not the life style that a socialist society should promote. It is also against the general policy of a frugal society and circular economy. If these reasons are not sufficient, this life style, and for that matter, the pursuit of materialism is unsustainable. Should all Chinese lead the life-style of Americans, it will have to take several planet earths to support us. We know this is totally impossible, and if we carry on with this materialistic aspiration fuelled by conspicuous consumption, the only result is perpetual frustration.

Realistically speaking, if the income distribution is more even, at the current level of per capita GDP we can on the whole all live rather well. We do not have to buy seven pairs of shoes a year and own three cars in every house. If we design and manufacture our products in a more people-oriented way, our lighting devices could last many times longer, and our mobile phones do not have to upgrade every year. Moreover, we do not have to eat so much meat, which can only make us more obese and unhealthy. If we refuse to play catch-up-with-the-Joneses, most likely we will all live happier, and our system will be much more sustainable.

The solution is simple. It is only a matter of perception management. Stop romanticizing conspicuous consumption, restrict the advertising of luxury items, and promote the idea that simple living is cool. Let a few filthy rich consume luxury items under the scorching eyes of the general public who regard such behavior as flashy and bad taste. Very soon, only devils wear Prada. On top of that, heavy taxation imposed on luxury items will of course help.


劉廼強 | 4th Aug 2009 | 信報 | (15 Reads)

當我們的尊貴議員去度假的時候,香港的政治話題好像一下子全都消失。「西線無戰事」,於是政制發展便提前討論。政改是一個值得大家詳細討論的問題,提早開始也是好事。

在本文開展之前,我想重申,我從來都是民主促進派。民主並非今天自命為「泛民」的人所能壟斷的,他們從來都沒有拿到民主的專利。早在他們有些人大力支持毫不民主的港英政府時,我已站穩「港人民主治港」這一邊。一九九二年,他們支持擴大功能團體議席,我就因為堅決反對功能選舉而退出「匯點」。

綑綁死撑市民受害

二○○四年,我第一個提倡二○一二年雙普選,要不是「泛民」綑綁否決了「第五號報告書」方案,二○一二年真有可能實現雙普選。現在反過頭來,反對派又死抱這議題了。二○○五年,我大力鼓吹要有競爭的特首選舉,過了一回才得到響應。到了今天,我還有一個「兩院制」的建議放在那裏,看哪一天後知後覺的所謂民主派能開竅。

今天我們談政制發展,再喊什麼「爭取民主」,已經過時,文不對題。普選是《基本法》一早規定好,毋須反對派爭取,現在時間表也已經有了,剩下來只是如何把它具體落實。這只是一個技術性的問題,何須大呼小叫,又示威又遊行?再說,示威、遊行又對具體落實二○一七特首普選,二○ 二○立法會普選能有何幫助?

市民對此十分清醒,所有民調都顯示,民主在市民所關心的事情的優先次序從來都是不高的。反對派在以民主為名的遊行人數愈來愈少的情況下,對此也心知肚明。只是反對派就是反對派,他們不找些事情來反對,就不能體現其存在的價值。而「民主」是他們的老本錢,他們一丟了這招牌,便什麼都不是,只有硬着頭皮撑下去而已。

只是反對派如此靠綑綁死撑,到頭來就只障礙了香港民主的發展和普選的落實,再加上中間的折騰擾攘,受害的只是我們廣大市民:我們被迫做了反對派想拿得民主牌坊的犧牲品。

為了表示我們沒有忽略反對派對民主的訴求,我們不妨仔細研究一下他們究竟急什麼?鬧什麼?

贊成反對派總辭抗議

普選應按照人大決議的時間表進行,而不應屈從於反對派今天死抱的二○一二年雙普選。一般市民對早一屆晚一屆普選特首根本無所謂。反對派之所以不滿,是他們主觀希望中央會因為他們大叫大喊,便被逼朝令夕改。現在中央不聽他們的,他們便因挫敗而不滿。

簡而言之,這是中央壓倒反對派,還是反對派壓倒中央的鬥爭。但是他們卻把它裝扮為民主與反民主的鬥爭,和香港民意與中央權威的鬥爭。很可惜,中央看穿了反對派根本不代表香港民意,繼續鬧下去也沒有用。

同樣道理,反對派什麼都反對,說到底,就是要奪權,要整個世界都聽他們的,反對派說了算,由他們主導香港未來的發展,包括政制發展以及香港的民意。反對派不斷通過各種事件動員,以表現他們代表了香港的民意,並以此為籌碼,要求直接與中央談判,要中央屈從於反對派的意志。

這可能嗎?當然不可能。這條顯淺的道理香港大部分市民都明白,只是反對派不願意接受而已。這樣下來,便有反對派提出公投的建議。作為市民,我拒絕為反對派無償服務。公投此例一開,會沒完沒了,雞毛蒜皮事情都要勞民傷財地公投一番,反正結果如何,對反對派來說都是沒有成本的。

但是我卻十分贊成反對派議員總辭抗議,或者退而求其次,每區一席辭職抗議。他們這樣做了之後,補選的效果跟公投出入不大。但是此舉不是政治免費午餐,反對派議員如真的這樣做,他們的這份好工是有風險的,而他們必會付出很大代價。反對派有沒有這一份道德勇氣,以及對所謂「六四定律」有沒有信心,我拭目以待。

有些反對派開始學乖了,他們既然已經從二○○七年、二○○八年普選這兩條自己畫的死線退了下來,反正一次穢,兩次也是穢,於叫喊三兩年「二○一二年」之後,今天已不再死守二○一二年這不合情、不合理、不合法的無謂底線,改築另外一條同樣無稽的防線:在二○一二年政制發展的檢討,一定要從最終的普選方案談起。

真正目標原地踏步

曾蔭權已經說得很清楚,他的職責是提二○一二年的選舉方案,讓中央批准之後,舉行有關選舉。二○一七年特首選舉方案是下一屆特首的職責,如此類推,二○二○年立法會選舉方案應該是二○一七年產生的特首的重要工作之一。要曾蔭權越權做了往後兩屆特首的工作,是強人之所難。

反對派當然也知道這一點。正正因為曾蔭權做不到,他們才有藉口綑綁反對,繼續大吵大鬧。所以我們可以判斷,反對派一早就設了這個明知曾蔭權過不了的一關,根本就不想二○一二年的任何選舉方案得到通過。繼續原地踏步,阻礙香港民主進一步發展,以及普選於二○一七年順利落實,根本就是反對派的真正目標和策略。

反對派上次吃過綑綁否決「第五號報告書」方案的虧,知道這回如果執意否決二○一二選舉方案,一定要大力爭取民意,認為只要民意明顯支持他們,便會給中央造成很大的壓力,中央便會跟他們直接對話,跟他們妥協。

這樣一來,反對派代表香港民意與中央討價還價的局面便會很自然地客觀形成,他們的戰略目標便已達成,對話和妥協的結果如何,反而是其次。只要有了這討價還價的地位,來日方長。所以一旦這局面出現,反對派必然願意送中央一個見面大禮,弄一個中央能下得台階的溫和合理結果出來;讓中央好看之餘,反對派更大得民意,將來更能名正言順地代表香港民意,主導香港未來的發展。

另一方面,如果市民相信中央秉承其一貫言而有信的作風,盡量會於二○一七年及二○二○年落實特首和立法會普選。那麼,二○一二年選舉方案通過與否決都無所謂。要是中央放出風聲,認為二○一二年繼續原地踏步,二○一七年進行特首普選便有違「循序漸進」原則的話,綑綁否決明顯是倒二○一七年落實特首普選的米,那麼壓力便自然落在反對派身上;他們赤裸裸地與他們所聲稱力爭盡快的普選為敵,剝奪香港市民於二○一七年開始享受普選特首的權利。

偷雞不到蝕把米

現在看來,今年第四季政制發展諮詢的互動,決不會按反對派一廂情願的如意算盤方向發展。反對派很可能會像上一回一樣,於綑綁否決之後,裏外都失勢、失人、失票。接着下來二○一一年區議會選舉和二○一二年立法會選舉更加一敗塗地。偷雞不到,反而賠了一把米。

我對反對派向無好感,但我相信權力需要制衡,任何健康生態都要容許多樣化存在。香港一點反對的聲音都沒有,只會是壞事,不可能是好事。因此反對派如走上末路,他們也要再出發,弄清楚他們與中央的關係,與香港社會的關係,他們相信什麼,要什麼。綑綁是死路一條,如要妥協,在香港與其他政治力量求妥協,弄出一個各方都能接受的方案。按既定程序經立法會通過、特首同意,交中央批准。這才是對香港有利,對民主有利,對國家有利的做法。