HK reform champion Webb tires of hammering on shut doors
'Vested interests will take priority over the public interest and economic rationality, and the result will be less optimal'
Hong Kong shareholder activist David Webb said he will scale back the newsletter calling for regulatory and legal reforms that he’s produced for almost two decades because he is increasingly pushing against doors that “are firmly locked” and frustrated writing “about the laws and rules that need to change and the crooks who never get caught.”
“I’ve tried to focus my efforts on issues where a result is, even if unlikely, more probable than others, putting utility above futility,” Webb said in an email to the newsletter’s subscribers. “However, at present, most of these doors are firmly locked and the opportunities for reform in HK are extremely limited.”
The increasing assertiveness of Beijing is steering Hong Kong’s government toward a more draconian approach through tighter control of the legislature, proposals to introduce strict “national security” legislation and less tolerance toward protest. While some may welcome the focus on public order and stability, this will come at a cost, he said.
“Vested interests will take priority over the public interest and economic rationality, and the result will be less optimal,” Webb said. “Until either the mainland Chinese population or their government realizes that central planning and authoritarianism cannot sustain economic growth, we will not see the free and open China that its people deserve, and Hong Kong and its policy choices will be constrained accordingly.”