Why has Macau, a former colony like Hong Kong and just an hour’s ferry ride away, been spared the political turmoil that is now threatening to tear the latter apart? This must be one of the questions asked by the many Singaporeans and other observers who have been watching in sorrow the sad spectacle of a once-vibrant Hong Kong writhing helplessly as it spirals towards what seems like mass political suicide in slow motion.
Three reasons come to mind. The first is that there is an ideological fault line in Hong Kong with pro- and anti-China forces so implacably opposed to each other that a head-on collision seems inevitable – and the inevitable has just happened.
What boggles the mind is that today, more than two decades after Hong Kong returned to Chinese sovereignty under the “one country, two systems” formula that allows it to continue its way of life for 50 years, many in the territory still cannot come to terms with the fact that ultimately, it is Beijing that calls the shots.