In the past few years the environmental pollution in Hong Kong has deteriorated tremendously. Reports by various agencies have reported that air quality in these areas has worsened gradually. Government has been trying to rectify the problem. However, the problem is deeply anchored on the country’s history of colonialism and capitalism trends. Initially, people would join together and taken a common action towards environmental protection. However, with the increasing levels of globalization which has resulted from liberalization of markets and easy movement of people across the borders, the level of individualism in Hong Kong has increased immensely. Therefore, taking a collective action has become very hard because the social structures are disjointed. In this essay, I will comprehensively discuss the colonial capitalism in Hong Kong and its impact on the current pollution problem.
During the colonial era, people were desegregated in order to minimize their force towards the colonizers. The divide and rule principles made it easy to govern the people. The culture of individualism became well established in Hong Kong. As a result, people are only bothered about their personal welfare. Therefore, environmental pollution is viewed as the authority’s failure to enforce the existing rules and regulations (Wong 33). People believe they do not have personal responsibility with the worsening pollution levels. Each person looks at their actions as very minimal towards polluting the environment. This has made it hard for the government and non-governmental organizations to convince people to be personal liable for their actions which might have a major impact on the pollution levels. The existing legislations have failed to yield any successes because of lack of the necessary support from the society. This calls for better approaches to ensure that the issue is addressed comprehensively. Currently, the number of health related complications have increased. The health centres are recording higher cases of respiratory diseases. Chronic illnesses such as lung cancer have become common to even the young generation. The government is being forced to spend a lot of money to treat these diseases. The amount directed towards respiratory diseases continues to increase. This is money that could have been used to improve service delivery and improve the existing infrastructure which would play a significant role in addressing some of the social problems affecting the society.
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The capitalism ideology has played a significant role in escalating the problem. Many companies in the society are focused towards maximizing profits. Therefore, they are not keen in addressing the issue of pollution. Many of the multinational companies have outsourced their operations to the country. The reason is that there is cheap labour, easy access to raw materials and modern technologies that makes it possible to produce products at cheap products. Therefore, these firms are more focused towards lowering their break-even prices. Therefore, they do not participate in corporate social responsibility. This is despite the fact that they are releasing large volumes of greenhouse gasses. The government is reluctant to take action against these companies Welford, et al 162). The reason is that despite this externality, the firms are playing a significant in creating employment and expanding the revenue base for the authority. However, some of the chemicals that are released into the environment are harmful to people’s health. In addition, the largest segment of the money collected is directed towards treating patients who are suffering from diseases that emanates from the actions of these industries. Therefore, in real sense, the administration is not benefiting from the existence of these companies. On the contrary, they are being forced to spend a lot of funds towards the treatment process. Therefore, there is need to address the issue comprehensively by using the existing laws and enacting more legislations that will force all businesses to act ethically when operating in the area.
Non-governmental organizations such as Green Sense, Green Power, Green Peace, The Green Earth and others have been trying to sensitize people on the importance of maintaining a clean environment. However, such a move requires a culture change in order for people to look at themselves as change agents (Ko, et al. 782). In addition, they require major support from the government. However, with the increasing global competition with other countries, the government is reluctant to put measures that might affect the production levels of these companies. However, with the current levels of global warming, it’s critical to start various initiatives that will encourage people to actively participating in the conservation of the environment. The move will ensure that there is a comprehensive approach in addressing a problem that need to be tackled from different dimensions.
In conclusion, the success in dealing with environmental pollution is highly dependent on the goodwill of all players. There is no single player who can succeed in addressing the problem conclusively. Therefore, despite the urge to retain a capitalism spirit, its critical for the people to shun away from the values that were instilled by the colonizers in order to address this modern problem that is threatening the existence of the current as well as future generations.
- Ko, F. W., et al. “Temporal relationship between air pollutants and hospital admissions for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in Hong Kong.” Thorax, vol. 62, no. 9, 2007, pp. 780-785.
- Welford, Richard, et al. “Environmental Reform, Technology Policy and Transboundary Pollution in Hong Kong.” Development and Change, vol. 37, no. 1, 2006, pp. 145-178.
- Wong, T. W. “Associations between daily mortalities from respiratory and cardiovascular diseases and air pollution in Hong Kong, China.” Occupational and Environmental Medicine, vol. 59, no. 1, 2002, pp. 30-35.