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七月二十四日,劉廼強先生於南華早報寫了一篇題為 “On the wrong track in the villagers’ protest” 的文章。當中有不少值得被質疑的地方,有必要再此解讀一下。

首先,作者把「保衛菜園村運動」理解為只是一次爭取賠償的示威,在這個說法下,村民的爭取其實就是為了獲得更多的賠償。事實上,村民在運動中高呼「不遷不拆」,是為了可以繼續留在原地居住,希望保留原有的農耕生活模式及社區網絡。菜園村是村民的根,老一輩的已經在這裡生活了五、六十年;村民只是想延續這段感情,而非為了賠償而盡快搬走。另外,村民持續爭取「不遷不拆」,並不是一種爭取更多賠償的策略,而是因為政府由此至終都是抱着「拆村」的心態與村民溝通,從沒有從村民的基本意願出發。

其次,作者提到在一些支援者的介入下,事件提升到民主公義的層次,這只會令村民得不到賠償,愈幫愈忙。這無疑是分化村民與支援者的講法。由此至終,村民並不是以獲得更多賠償為目標,一些支援者也從這個立場出發,支援村民。以菜園村支援組為例,村民與支援者立場從來一致,堅守「不遷不拆」的訴求。

最後,作者認為若然成功爭取「不遷不拆」,香港的發展便會停滯不前。這個講法的背後,認為高鐵的興建必然會帶來繁榮。然而,值得一問的是,現時高鐵是否能帶來這個效果?

Fifty residents of a village in the northern New Territories have vowed not to move to makeway for a maintenance yard, part of the high-speed rail line linking Hong Kong to the rest of China.

The issue is gathering momentum and gaining support from a growing number of non-governmental organisations and pro-democracy politicians, some of whom have pushed the matter to the moral high ground of spatial democracy – that is, the democratic distribution of facilities and services to all urban areas.

Except for the NGO involvement, the protest sounds familiar. Similar demonstrations have taken place many times in the past, and were invariably solved when the stakes were raised to the protesters’ satisfaction.

Those who shout: I don’t want your money usually mean: I want more. If, with the intervention of the NGOs, this incident were to escalate into a moral issue in the realms of democracy and justice, there would be no room for compromise, no deal and, in the end, no money. This bargaining strategy is very bad for business.

But, if the villagers backed down when sufficient incentives were offered, the NGOs would appear to have been sold out, resulting in a tremendous loss of credibility. To the public they would look gullible, rather than righteous.

Of course, they would justify their retreat with excuses like: We have helped the villagers gain better compensation from the government, but that would ring hollow all the same.

I am all for conservation and helping vulnerable groups, provided they have a case. But apart from the I don’t want to move argument, I see no justification here.

I agree that, in many instances, people are treated worse than butterflies, for example. At least when the habitat of the latter is endangered, it becomes a conservation area. We cannot reason with butterflies and persuade them to move, but we can do so with our fellow humans. Moreover, the butterflies’ offspring will also thrive in their reserve; there is less reason to be optimistic about the descendants of present-day villagers living there for long.

So, if the fact that someone is unwilling to move is a good enough reason to win the moral support of citizens at large, then the development of our entire city will be put on hold.

Dissident politicians entered this dispute to gain exposure. One claimed that the construction of the high-speed rail link would only serve to bring more mainland visitors to Hong Kong. Coming from the mouth of a trade union leader, such a statement is alarming. It seems he must have forgotten that more tourists mean more employment, especially for vulnerable, uneducated and unskilled workers. The dissidents also forget that many Hong Kong citizens travel north. Will they not benefit? With the completion of the initial phase of the high-speed rail network on the mainland, by 2012, major cities will be much more interconnected.

Hong Kong started late and will only be able to plug into the system by 2014. If we don’t hurry, we risk being left out in the cold. We will then become a lonely island in the South China Sea, which would clearly be detrimental to our future development.

Our dissidents have yet to learn from the disappointing turnout for the July 1 march that being anti-government without a real cause is not a very good rallying point for voters.

The protesting villagers in the New Territories will be much more grateful if the pan-democratic politicians can help them get off their high horses and get higher compensation instead. And if they don’t get in quickly, pro-establishment lawmakers like Lau Wong-fat will do a much better job.

2009-07-24

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