【明報專訊】AS BARACK OBAMA defeated Republican challenger Mitt Romney to win his second term as US president, the international community, which has grown accustomed to Obama over the past four years, heaved a sigh of relief. The uncertainties a victory on Romney’s part would mean are gone.
Four years ago, the American public, impressed by Obama’s call for reform, made him the first African-American president, to whom they entrusted the responsibility of leading America out of an economic depression that reached its nadir under George W Bush. Obama is also the first US president after World War II to win reelection with an unemployment rate as high as 7.9 percent.
Obama held only a slim lead over Romney in the national popular vote. The principal reason, we believe, is that the US economy is still in bad shape. In fact, many agreed with Romney when in his election campaign he violently criticised Obama for his inability to achieve economic revival.
Yet Obama still managed to win a narrow victory. After all, a lot of people believe that it is Bush who is to blame for the nation’s present economic plight, and there can be no quick remedy for the grave problems the US economy has been struggling with since the outbreak of the financial tsunami. The American public has therefore not been harsh with Obama.
Economic considerations aside, Obama is devoted to reform, for which he has come up against strong opposition from the country’s huge bureaucratic system and powerful financial magnates. For instance, after the financial tsunami, he has called for reforming Wall Street, but has met with such strong resistance that his reform programme may come to nothing. Still, despite serious obstacles that thwarted many of his predecessors, he has pushed through his health care reforms. Obama’s image as a reformer must have won him much support.
Against the backdrop of Hong Kong’s present situation, Obama’s reelection is in a way revealing. At the same time, there are also reasons for concern.
What is revealing is that the public will rally round a reformer. Because of his reform efforts, Obama got reelected despite a high unemployment rate and a depressed economy. By returning him to office, the American people have given him his reward. Now there are many matters in urgent need of reform in Hong Kong, but they cannot be reformed all at once, or society will be thrown into chaos. Leung Chun-ying should devote himself to one or two pressing issues, and try his best to tackle them. If his efforts bear fruit, his image as a reformer will be established. The housing issue is of course one of the most pressing challenges facing Hong Kong today. Successful reforms in this area are likely to win Leung the support he needs if he stands for reelection in 2017, when the Chief Executive will be elected by universal suffrage.
At the same time, we are concerned that, with the US continuing to print money to save its own economy, the Hong Kong dollar will continue to depreciate along with the US dollar, creating huge asset bubbles and fuelling the exorbitant rise in home prices. The HKSAR government, therefore, must try to contain the housing bubble by introducing taxation measures to curb demand. And those measures must be maintained steadily and resolutely until the housing problem is eased because of increased supply.
Finally, with the continuing influx of hot money, big “international crocodiles" may have sinister designs on Hong Kong. The government should therefore monitor the situation closely – we cannot afford any negligence in this respect.
啟 示在於人民不會放棄改革者。奧巴馬推動改革，使他在高失業率、經濟低迷之中仍然當選連任，這是美國人民對他的回饋。回看香港，急需興革之事，不知凡幾，若 一下子全面變革，社會也受不了，梁振英應該集中一個或兩個議題，全力推動，做出成績，塑造出改革者的形象。住屋就是這樣的議題，若梁振英在住屋事務上帶來 變革，則2017年的特首直選，若梁振英參與競逐，相信會得到市民以選票回報。
entrust﹕make someone responsible for doing something or taking care of someone else
nadir﹕the worst moment of a particular situation
magnate﹕a person who is rich, powerful and successful, especially in business
rally﹕work together to help somebody who is in a difficult or unpleasant situation