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‘COVID Fatigue’ and ‘COVID-19 Caution Fatigue’

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By Dr B. J. C. Perera

Specialist Consultant Paediatrician

Physical fatigue, marked muscle aches, weakness of the body and bodily exhaustion are well-recognised clinical features of COVID-19 disease. Some patients feel really ill, lifeless and have severe muscular and joint pains during the acute illness. In some of them, these effects last a long time, even after recovery. By now, all these things have become well-known and sort of ‘old hat’ type of details of the actual disease.

However, the terminology of the title of this article, COVID Fatigue and COVID-19 Caution Fatigue, DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT, refer to the physical effects of the illness. These really denote some of the mental effects and their repercussions in those who have not contracted the disease, but are being constantly bombarded and reminded, especially over mass media, of the implications of the disease itself. These may also result in certain undesirable behaviour patterns on the part of those who exhibit these phenomena. The medical circles are just beginning to see the significance and the importance of these manifestations with regard to the current scenario.

COVID Fatigue is a new phrase that refers to the general thoughts and psychological feelings that many people get of being mentally tired, discouraged, and even disgusted by everything that is going on with their lives that are being dictated to by this tiny coronavirus. This includes being isolated and preached on for so long that they have become totally sick of hearing these mantras, over and over, again and again. In some cases, the reaction on the part of some people have been one of irritation, intolerance, resistance, leading to even non-compliance. Some have given up on masking, regular washing of hands, physical distancing, and generally in all forms of self-protection. This type of risky behaviour and disregard for the health rules is an unwholesome way through which people try to cope with the stress that is piling up. Though this kind of behaviour may provide one with short-term relief, it is not truly beneficial and may even lead to disastrous results.

The COVID-19 Caution Fatigue is a related phenomenon that has slightly different connotations. When the pandemic began and lockdowns were ordered, many people were tremendously energized to do their very best and help to reduce the spread of the disease. They were an absolute model lot. However, months of isolation, all kinds of restrictions and the ever-present anxiety have drained people of their motivation. It has caused many to become less strict and less concerned about following the guidelines issued by the health authorities. They have become sort of immune to being constantly reminded of all kinds of cautions and restraints. They have become quite a bit nonchalant about the statements advising caution. It has led to a kind of ‘fatigue of caution’ after being cautious about the disease for far too long. Many people can only remain vigilant for so long before they start to become exhausted and throw caution to the winds. These could become the straws that finally break the camel’s back.

Ultimately both these components end up in a single common final pathway which may induce the public to assume a blasé attitude and take things for granted. It may appear to be the case that these affected people could not care less. In another perspective, they may sometimes even be tempted to behave like COVIDIOTS; yet another newly introduced terminology which is a kind of a slang-word, combining ‘covid’ and ‘idiots’. It describes some people who cause many a problem by going against the very grain that is designed to ensure their safety and freedom from the virus.

The problem with those who suffer from COVID Fatigue and COVID-19 Caution Fatigue is that they start to lose interest in life, stop enjoying the joys of living, give up general happiness with things around them and get into a state where they do not get any satisfaction from life. They may also become so disgruntled as to exhibit some irrational behaviour patterns. This could affect even highly educated and intelligent professionals but for clear socio-political and economic reasons, they are a lot commoner in the lower social strata. People who have all these problems may respond in one of two ways. Some may take the path of resolute resistance and fight back against society and the restrictions imposed. Others may become rather indifferent and get inevitably committed in their mindsets to any and every unfortunate eventuality that may come their way.

The coronavirus itself may be novel, but the outbreak is stirring up some very fundamental instincts in people. A keen sense of warning and coping mechanisms that have been with humankind since the dawn of time are also programmed to induce fear and anxiety. According to mental health experts, feeling worried in such a situation is absolutely normal and even healthy. This evolutionary trait has stuck around for millions of years because it alerts us in times of danger and prompts us to come up even with newer survival skills.

The catch is when anxiety becomes somewhat disproportionate to the situation. It can turn into intense fear or a feeling of hopelessness and it starts to interfere with our day-to-day lives and wellbeing. Following official instructions, things such as staying at home, social distancing, washing of hands, etc., become important to people because it engages problem-solving behaviour. But the uncertainty of how long this situation will last, the constant stream of new information and the social isolation, all create a fertile ground for escalating anxiety. It is important to realise that panic, could also be contagious. The biggest problem at the present time is that there does not seem to be any decent light at the end of the tunnel.

To get through this time as efficiently, serenely and healthily as possible, it is important to be familiar with some ways to calm ourselves. It is quite essential, to try and ward off such mental complications brought on by utter despair and try to get on with this ‘NEW NORMAL LIFE’. In that context, there are some possible coping mechanisms to try and mitigate the effects of COVID Fatigue and COVID-19 Caution Fatigue.

For a start, staying informed does not mean that one has to be perpetually connected and follow live news 24/7. It can really become exhausting. Turning the push notifications off on news apps can help relieve some of that pressure. It is necessary to choose just one or two reliable sources, and keep track of their updates at allocated times once or twice a day. It is also recommended to set a specific length of time for social media to avoid getting caught up in it, which is often, very likely to increase anxiety. Of course, it is not possible or recommended to completely bury your head in the sand and be totally oblivious to what is happening. One is bound to see some unnerving headlines on social media and in news reports. It is essential to remind yourself that a lot of it is speculation and not fact. A concerted effort must be made to follow the clear instructions of the health organizations and try to avoid news headlines that do not contribute to your wellbeing.

One should not be deterred if the exercise or dancing class that one is enrolled in is not taking place at the moment or your regular walking sessions in the designated exercise sites are impossible because of locked-in situations or curfews. Aerobic exercise is known to allay anxiety, especially if it was already a part of your usual routine. Practicing a dance routine, exercise sequence, or yoga are all healthy ways to keep your mind distracted and channel your adrenaline elsewhere. You can turn your garden into a workout area, or move around some furniture in your living room for the purpose.

For some people, it is not just the prospect of catching the virus itself that is causing stress, but the feeling of emptiness and the disruption of daily routines. You need to connect with others. Staying indoors means being by yourselves, or with your family or housemates for a much longer period of time than you are used to. Some might be asked to self-quarantine, but that does not mean completely isolating yourself from your social contacts, apart of course from physical isolation. Maintaining human interaction at such times is very important. Being able to express your thoughts concerning the virus, exchanging opinions and even making jokes will make you feel supported and make it easier to overcome the anxiety. Humans are social beings, wired to be loved, to love, to belong and of course, to meet in-person. It is no wonder that people are finding physical distancing so difficult. In such a case, technology is quite a blessing: call people via a telephone, have a video chat and check on your friends and acquaintances as frequently as possible.

One also needs to guard against certain things that may accompany these changes in the mental status. Spiralling into undesirable and even destructive behaviour is easy when confined to your home. Sleeping in and walking around in your night-clothes might feel nice for a couple of days. However, if it is to be done for days on end and perhaps even for weeks, it will only increase anxiety in the long run. Try to keep the sleeping routine as consistent as possible and get at least eight hours of good-quality sleep. Wake up at a reasonable time in the morning, change out of your night clothes and set a structure for yourself. Work or study from home if possible, cook for yourself and the family, and eat three proper meals a day.

Many experts advocate focusing on the immediate future so that uncertainty about the longer-term outlook does not make one feel hopeless and helpless. However, it is also important to work against the ‘current-moment’ type of biases during the pandemic. Avoid the temptation to do something that brings you pleasure in the moment without acknowledging the risk it may pose in the future. In the case of the pandemic, this could mean going to a large group gathering in your lane without thinking about how this may affect the spread of COVID-19 down the lane. It is hard to assess the perils and risk, especially when the risk is invisible, like the coronavirus and most of the infected people are symptom-free. One needs to find a balance; an equilibrium which may mean less pleasure in the current moment, but more risk mitigation in the future and put risks into their proper perspectives. It may be hard to stay committed to goals like improving public health by staying home, because they are so abstract and can often seem to have no effect on one personally. However, it is necessary to reframe this thought to acknowledge how your behaviour could increase the chance of you or your loved ones getting sick.

In the current scenario, when anxiety takes over a person in a sort of big-time way, it can feel like as if this catastrophe will never end. But it always does end. Remember the Spanish Flu of 1918 which killed over 50 million people? There were no effective anti-viral drugs and there was no vaccine. However, although the scientists are not quite sure as to how it happened, the epidemic died out within about two years. The current pandemic is a worrying time for almost everyone, but this situation is temporary. Be kind to yourself and your loved ones. It may sound rather optimistic, but we will overcome this together.

Finally, people need to be warned against falling into “thinking traps” such as the assumption that since you have not been sick, you will not get sick in the future, or convincing yourself that an outing is necessary when your motivation behind it may just be boredom. Now is not the time to let our guard down. For the good of everyone’s health and the well-being of the country, we need to do our part to maintain an appropriate level of caution and try our very best to re-flatten the curve. Indeed, sanity must prevail, through sheer necessity of course. Come rain or sunshine or this miserable corona, life must surely go on.



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Deteriorating rural economy, and food security

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Photo credit: Nefelibata travels

By Dr. C. S. Weeraratna
csweera@sltnet.lk

Sri Lanka is a land of villages. There are around 14,000 of them. According to the Dept. of Census and Statistics, around 80% of the Sri Lankan population live in villages and estates. Most of them are farmers who are supposed to be suitable to be kings if the mud on their bodies are washed out. According to recent estimates, about 30 percent of the total households, in therural districts of Sri Lanka, live below the poverty line. A socio-economic survey, conducted in the recent past, indicates that although the rural sector has the ability to engage in productive activities, there are many constraints.

Wild elephants:

Wild elephants roaming in some of the dry zone villages,causing death to many and destroying property, aggravate the socio-economic hardships the rural sector has to face, affecting their health, education and many other aspects of the lives.

Chronic Kidney Disease:

Around 70,000 people of the country are affected by a chronic kidney disease (CKDu) . They are mostly in the rural areas of the country and are affected socially and economically. The patients in the final stages of CKDu have to go for dialysis which again affects the economy of rural people . In some families both parents have died and their children are helpless.

Water shortage:

In spite of the country receiving around 100 billion cubic meters of water, annually, there are frequent water shortages, mostly in the rural areas where there are around 12,000 tanks. Most of them are silted, reducing the water holding capacity of these tanks, causing rural communities to face shortage of water which seriously affects crop production and various domestic activities.

Transport:

Lack of reasonable transport facilities, in the rural areas, is one of the main setback to Sri Lanka’s overall prosperity. People living in some rural areas have to cross rivers, using inflated rubber tubes, as there are no bridges. A large number of rural roads remain in a dilapidated condition but, the authorities were more interested in constructing highways.

Inputs:

Fertilisers are a major input in crop production. During the last two cropping seasons, inorganic fertilisers, and pesticides, were not available due to the utterly foolish decision of the former government. Currently, fertilisers are available but they were not available at correct times.

Farmers are forced to obtain seeds at a high cost. For example, a kg of chilli seeds is around Rs. 170,000 and a kg of cabbage seed is sold at Rs 400,000 in the market.

Pest attacks cause considerable problems to farmers. Last year there was the sena caterpillar called “Fall Armyworm” (Spodopteria Frugipedera) which destroyed large extents of cultivated crops. According to press reports, the same pest destroyed thousands of hectares of maize in Ampara causing severe difficulties to the farmers. Brown Plant Hopper tends to destroy paddy.

Marketing:

Those farmers who manage to harvest the crop of rice/vegetables are unable to sell it for a reasonable price. Currently, paddy farmers are unable to sell their Yala paddy crop to cover the costs. Often vegetable farmers are forced to destroy their produce due to inability to market their produce at reasonable prices. Marketing of agricultural products, at a profit to the farmer, is an issue which the authorities need to take cognizance of.

Unemployment:

Unemployment is rampant in the country. As a result of government-imposed restrictions on imports, commercial activities of thousands of companies are slowing down, seriously affecting the private sector in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of those companies have been compelled to reduce employment, non-renewal of employment contracts, and halting new recruitments, resulting in an increase in unemployment. Thousands of workers, in the construction sector, have already lost their jobs. These business enterprises are currently facing liquidity issues due to a loss of revenue and difficulties in the importation of raw material. Thousands of SMEs have closed down mainly due to lack of inputs, resulting in an increase in unemployment.

As a result of these limiting factors, rural economy is deteriorating. For the success of any development programme to improve the rural economy, it is essential to address the problems of the rural communities. However, the previous governments did not give priority to these critical issues, faced by farmers, who continue to live in abject poverty as a result. Most of them have to pawn their jewellery, or resort to some other ways ,to obtain finances to obtain agricultural inputs, such as seeds, fertilisers, pesticides and labour. Some of them have become prey to micro-credit companies.

All these issues cause untold hardships to thousands of farmers and have a negative impact on the rural economy. No effective actions appear to have been taken, by the relevant authorities, to implement appropriate solutions to these problems, except appointing committees. Those representing the farming community, in the Parliament, appear to be not concerned about the plight of our farming population who have voted them to power.

There is no centralized planning in farming in the country which, sometimes, leads farmers to cultivating the same crop/s, ultimately resulting in gluts. Previous governments attempted to solve this problem by implementing programmes, such as Api Wawamu-Rata Nagamu and Divineguma. But we continue to spend nearly Rs.300 billion, annually to import food. If the authorities are genuinely keen to improve the rural economy, they need to address these issues.

Food Security:

Food Security is closely related to rural economy. According to the United Nation’s Committee on World Food Security, food security is at maximum level when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food, to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. According to World Food Programme’ s latest food security assessment, about three in 10 households (6.26 million people) in Sri Lanka are food insecure. Cost of essential foods has increased during the last few months hindering the population’s ability to consume nutritious food in sufficient amounts. The food security situation is worst among people living in the estate sector.

Nutritious food to meet the dietary requirements of people need to contain mainly carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and minerals. The local production of carbohydrates (mainly rice and sugar), and proteins (fish and milk) is inadequate to meet the demand. Hence, these food items are imported. During the last few years, we have spent nearly Rs. 300 billion, annually, on food imports, although it has decreased during the last few months, mainly due to restrictions on import of some food.

Availability of rice locally has decreased mainly because of inadequate availability of plant nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium) through inorganic fertilisers. This has caused large amounts of rice to be imported. There appears to be no effective programmes to increase sugar production in the country. About two decades ago, in the1990s, sugarcane was cultivated in about 25, 000 hectares. At present, only about 12,000 ha are under sugarcane. The sugar factory, in Kantale, remains out of production, for nearly 15 years.

Availability of fish and milk has reduced due to a number of factors which the government appears to be not taking appropriate measures to increase the production of these items. According to press reports, the government is planning to import cattle from India and Pakistan to increase local milk production. It is foolish to import cattle to enhance milk production in the country without implementing an integrated programme to upgrade local cattle, making available cattle feed and improving veterinary practices in the country.

In Sri Lanka, during the last two decades, perhaps a few thousands of research studies, related to food security, involving billions of rupees worth of scarce resources, have been conducted. It is important that we utilize these research findings to find solutions to the pressing problems of the country. But there appears to be no effective system to make use of the research findings. Lack of an integrated plan is a factor responsible for the decline in food security. There has been rhetoric on rural economic development during the last few years. It is meaningful and effective actions that are necessary.

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A first indication of readiness to go on a new path

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By Jehan Perera

None too soon, President Ranil Wickremesinghe appears to be putting the brakes on the government’s policy of repression in dealing with public protests. His decision to initially sign the Gazette notification declaring key areas of Colombo to be High Security Zones was roundly criticised by human rights organisations including the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka. The business sector also complained that this decision which appears to have been made by the security establishment would be injurious to business. Revoking the High Security Zones made practical sense in view of the dubious legal basis of the declaration. The High Security Zones were to be set up under the Official Secrets Act which has hardly anything in common with the purpose of the new regulations.

The High Security Zone concept, which was practiced in the North and East of the country during the time of war, would have made it difficult for vehicles to even park on the roads without first obtaining special permission. There were also legal cases filed in the Supreme Court alleging violation of constitutional rights. The president would also have been aware of the resolution on Sri Lanka that is about to be presented for a vote at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. As many as 26 countries have agreed to co-sponsor the resolution, of which 10 are current members of the UNHRC. Sri Lanka is finding itself isolated in terms of human rights in the eyes of the international community which can have costly consequences in terms of reducing the international sympathy and support that the country needs at this time.

The president’s early resort to the security forces to clamp down on the protest movement came as a surprise as his prior track record would have suggested a more nuanced approach to dealing with public agitation. As a follow up to the revocation of the High Security Zones, the president needs to consider revamping government policy on addressing the protest movement. So far the government approach has focused on suppressing the protest movement, on the justification that it will destabilise the economy through strike actions and by chaos on the streets. However, in Sri Lanka’s democratic system a policy of repression is unlikely to be workable. A government that is reluctant to go to the polls must not use the security forces as its prop. The president’s withdrawal of the High Security Zones in Colombo may be understood as an acknowledgement of this reality.

DECLARE AMNESTY

There is general acknowledgement that the President is the most suitable for the task of negotiating with, and making the political case, for more international aid to come to Sri Lanka. During his recent visits to foreign countries he met with top world leaders and would have made his mark. However, it is also important that the president should make his mark on the Sri Lankan people. He needs to win the trust of the people who did not vote for him. Having consolidated himself following his election by parliament to be president, he needs to take a more pro-active role in addressing the roots of the protest movement and not simply quashing its manifestations. There is a need to inform the people what the government will be doing to directly address the terrible impact of the economic crisis on the poorer sections of the population.

There is a widespread sense that those arrested for being members of the protest movement ought not to be subjected to the heavy hand of the law. At the present time, both in Geneva and in Sri Lanka, government spokespersons are denying the severity of the problems that exists. Successive governments denied the excesses that occurred during the war period, both in Geneva and at home. In Sri Lanka the majority of the population were prepared to go along with the denials of war time excesses due to the nature of the ethnic conflict that pitted the ethnic communities against one another. However, a policy of denying the impact of the economic crisis on the poor will not be able to garner similar support from any community in Sri Lanka and will end up pitting the majority of people against the government, just as happened during the height of the Aragalaya.

A declaration of an amnesty for all those accused and arrested for being part of the protest movement would be an act of follow-up statesmanship considering the controversy these arrests are causing both internationally and nationally with the human rights groups and the general public. The ongoing arrests of some who have been part of the protest movement have been justified on the basis that they engaged in violence or supported it. Others are accused of having burnt down the houses of government ministers, including the president’s own ancestral house which contained his family library and valuable works of art. Some have been arrested without being charged before the courts.

Magnanimity, empathy and fairness are very powerful in binding the community together. This is an opportunity for the president to show his empathy with all those others who down the years have lost their own homes to violence, during the two JVP insurrections and during the long period of the ethnic war. The government plans to compensate its members who lost their houses. It needs to also compensate those who lost their lives due to government failure, the most recent being those who died standing in long lines, or when their substandard gas cylinders exploded.

ACCEPT TRUTH

At present, the government is denying the veracity of studies done by international organisations, including UN organisations, on the extent of the malnutrition and stunting that affects children. They are also denying the veracity of claims of corruption in the procurement of fuel and other large contracts, even in the midst of economic crisis. It is also doing little to ameliorate these problems. The government points to the restoration of reasonable supplies of petrol, diesel, cooking gas and electricity which can create an impression of normalcy, but only for those who can afford the much higher prices at which these commodities are available. The government denials of the unequal distribution of the burden will ring hollow with the masses of people, whose support is needed if the government is to govern in a stable political environment.

Instead of denying the existence of problems, the government needs to accept their existence and take measures to address them. This applies to both the problems within the country and that are being discussed internationally. It needs to recognise that its denials have got no traction in Geneva, which is why Sri Lanka has had to face nine resolutions, each one getting more difficult to respond to. The resolution that will be voted on in the UN Human Rights Council later this week will call for greater support for the UN’s evidence gathering mechanism that has already been set up and to provide more support to those countries that pursue universal jurisprudence for crimes committed by Sri Lankan political and military leaders anywhere in the world.

The government needs to use every opportunity it can to seek the support of the international community. With the draft resolution now presented, the eyes of the international community are upon Sri Lanka. While it is too late to change the draft resolution, which will be soon voted on, the government can still seek to restore goodwill among those that are pursuing the resolution on Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva. An amnesty for those who participated in the protest movement could send a positive signal that the government is willing to heed the concerns of the international community regarding human rights and democratic freedoms. The possibility of amnesty to be part of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in which there is acknowledgment of past violations, expression of regret and accountability for them can also be explored.

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Treaty for a Lost City – inconvenient facts or legal myths?

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By Andrew Sheng
Asia News Netowrk

Is Hong Kong a lost city or being re-born after its baptism of fire? Hong Kong was always a “borrowed place, borrowed time”, to quote the legendary journalist Richard Hughes (1906-1984), immortalised in John Le Carre’s novels on the intersection of media and espionage in cities like Berlin or Istanbul located at the borderlands of great power conflicts. Having returned the city on 1 July 1997, can Britain hold China to the terms and conditions of the 1984 Joint Declaration with China?

Chinese University of Hong Kong Law Professor CL Lim’s book, ” The Sino-British Joint Declaration” is a meticulously researched legal history of how the Joint Declaration came into being and whether it still has the force of law on both parties. There is a presumption that the Joint Declaration granted democratic rights to Hong Kong. The legal story is much more complex. This book draws on the British National Archives and study of the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (1990), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966) [ICCPR], United Nations Charter, etc., to lay out the facts and opinions for the reader to judge who is right or wrong.

Cities and states are defined by their Constitutions, communal values, geography, cultures and histories. Prior to 1841, Hong Kong was a barren rock that was indisputably part of China. Hong was ceded under the Treaty of Nanjing after the First Opium War (1839-42); but the expiry of the 99 year New Territories lease meant that Britain could not hold onto Hong Kong after 1997. The People’s Republic of China (PRC), following earlier Chinese governments, has never recognised any “unequal treaty” with the Western Powers, but adopted the face-saving principle that “a sovereign may delegate under international law such control or authority to another for a limited period.” Once that sovereignty is resumed, the PRC will not brook any interference in its internal sovereign matters.

This book reads like a series of Queen’s Counsel briefs, densely argued on complex and subtle points presenting different opinions and perspectives. In normal legal disputes, the arbiter would be an independent court, but there is no final decision between China and United Kingdom, which are the five members of the UN Security Council that can veto any rulings at the United Nations level. The only appeal left is to the court of global public opinion, which is today dominated by the English-speaking media. As media today becomes more and more ideologically driven, it is unlikely that deeply held views will be changed by legal or rational arguments.

The genesis of the Joint Declaration was the need to ensure a smooth return of Hong Kong to China. In 1983, when the New Territories lease (covering 92% of Hong Kong) was running out, Britain initially sought to renew the lease, but found that China under Deng Xiaoping was adamant that China would resume sovereignty over Hong Kong. With confidence slipping, the Hong Kong currency was under attack, only to be restored by a peg against the US dollar. This gave impetus to settle the terms and conditions of return. As the book painstakingly pointed out, British negotiators were operating from a weak hand, wanting to retain as much influence and economic benefits as possible post-1997.

As described in Chapter 3, democracy under colonialism was never part of the negotiations. Hong Kong representatives played no part in the discussions between two sovereign powers. The Joint Declaration itself did not mention the word “democracy”. It basically stated that the Hong Kong SAR “will enjoy a high degree of autonomy, except in foreign and defence affairs” (Article 2) and that rights and freedoms will be ensured by Hong Kong SAR law (Article 5). Since the Basic Law, HKSAR’s constitution, is PRC law, the final interpretation falls to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, not necessarily by the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeals.

The real point of dispute lies in the National Security Law, which was passed by the National People’s Congress in 2020, after the Hong Kong legislature was unable to enact Article 23 of the Basic Law. As public disorder arose with violent protests, the practical issue was whether HKSAR government could handle them without a National Security Law. Hong Kong was uniquely handicapped because in every other international financial centre, there exists very draconian national security laws that protect the integrity and security of the financial system, economy and sovereignty. Hong Kong was deeply polarised. No compromise seemed possible, and continued protests and violence would have destroyed Hong Kong. Between a rock and a hard place, the National Security Law was the least painful alternative barring more physical violence.

Treaty on a Lost Place highlighted the absurd situation of two sovereigns signing one piece of paper having different points of view. Such constructive ambiguity papered over destructive alternatives. The last British Governor Chris Patten was successful in persuading some Hongkongers that one man-one vote was what they deserve. Whether that is a cure all for Hong Kong’s ill is another matter. That his Conservative Party leadership was elected opaquely by of British people shows that different systems may not always practice what they preach. Hong Kong elites failed to correct the injustices that many young faced in not providing them affordable homes with meaningful, well paid jobs. Beijing’s mistake perhaps was to trust that Hong Kong could on her own resolve these contradictions within the larger struggle between China and the West on many fronts.

A Treaty is only a piece of paper. A city is not lost to Britain or China, but lost in its own direction, which must be re-found. The answers will not be found in international law, because that is itself being rediscovered in a new age of multipolar contestation. This book is a major contribution to our understanding of how international law is only one of many guides to the future. Hong Kong has to rediscover her own identity inside a larger identity. That is the tragedy and opportunity facing all islands within the grand ocean of mankind.

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