Letter from Allan Zeman to Carrie (Not sure it's real or not, but it gets to the points )
From Allan Zeman
I know we are all going through a very difficult time and, to be quite honest, in all my years I have never had to face such a big problem. The community, both local and international, are very concerned and it has made me very concerned as well.
The confusing messages which keep coming out on almost a daily basis from the so-called medical experts and Sophia are causing widespread panic in the community. I, myself, am very nervous and as you know we have worked together a long time and have been through many things together but this time I worry that we are doing real damage to HK society and to our economy. There are too many rumours floating around and such a feeling of uncertainty, we need very clear messaging giving people hope and direction for an end to this nightmare. People feel they are getting punished for being infected.
People and businesses both need clarity instead of fear because the mental state of the majority, including so-called tycoons, is very worrisome. Unfortunately, HK is a very unique place as we have many sub-divided flats, nano flats, small living quarters with people living on top of one another. The people need some hope and a clear direction, and this can only come from the top. We are not the only city in the world that has had to face Omicron in the pandemic and in speaking to some of the medical advisers, their feeling is that it should peak in about 2 weeks and hopefully by middle to end April can be over. I have seen reports today that Mr. Liang Wannian, the expert from China, has arrived and said that ideally a lockdown during testing can work, but on the other hand, knowing the situation of HK flats, it may be difficult.
The rumor floating around is that this is going to happen for 3 weeks, after you clearly assured everyone of no lockdown. Carrie, you understand the housing situation in HK and if we really want to protect what’s left of the lives of people and businesses, we need to consider something that can work and not frighten HK people. Community Universal Testing will likely result in hundreds of thousands of positive cases, for which we do not have the facilities to isolate. Most of the cases will likely be mild or asymptomatic as the vaccination rate is now very high. The biggest mission is how to protect the elderly and those ‘at risk’ members of the public. I know the idea is to isolate mild cases at home if the home is suitable. I think this must be stressed by the whole administration so that people can feel more comfortable.
Another big problem is that so many families with children who have been here for many years are leaving HK because of fear that they will be separated from their child if he/she tests positive and must go to hospital. I have been assured by the HA that they now have agreement that this will not happen, but the damage has already been done as that headline went worldwide and showed HK to be highly unreasonable. The international reputation of HK is now very damaged, and I worry that ‘One Country Two Systems’ as we know it will disappear. A lot of talent has already left. I don’t think this is what President Xi wants as China needs an international HK and not just another city of 7M people. I am trying to do foreign media interviews to challenge these rumours but I am also worried. Please try to have you and your administration to keep coming out with very positive and competent messages so we can finally lift the mood of helplessness that exists at the moment. It would also be good to have someone charismatic from the administration to address the international community with a very positive note so to stem the current exodus of expats. Some good interviews in the English media will also go a long way to calm international community members who do not read Chinese. As you know I am always available if you need advice and want to talk. I value your opinion very much and hold you in very high regard.
PS – So many members of the public and of the business community are in dire straits. Salaries have been cut, businesses have been cutting many staff in order to survive with the current restrictions. It would be essential to have an ESS scheme like we had in 2020 for those businesses in the ‘affected industries’ or for those that have been adversely impacted. I really think this will be a lifesaver and bring some smiles to ease the hardships of the employees in these businesses. The previous scheme was really important for keeping staff employed last time. Take care!