In this world of high income and social disparity between countries, cities, or even within the domestic territory, social justice seems remote and unachievable. To John Rawls, however, social justice is in fact realistically utopian and it is achievable.
The most influential theory that he proposed as well as the theory that he is primarily known for, is his theory of Justice as Fairness. In his theory, a society where social justice is done, should consist of free and equal persons. The citizens should possess political and personal liberties, enjoy equal opportunity and cooperative arrangements that benefit the more and the less advantaged members of society. Thus, according to John Rawls, individuals are regarded as equal and their society is considered as a fair system as long as they are cooperating with each other to make life better off, from one generation to the next.
Two fundamental principles, the Equal Liberty Principle and Difference Principle are derived from John Rawls’ theory of social justice. The two basic principles, which represent the core value of John Rawls’ theory of social justice, serve as the tool to evaluate Hong Kong’s social justice and fairness.
The social and economic system of Hong Kong
In Equal Liberty Principle, ‘each person has an equal right to a fully adequate scheme of equal basic liberties which is compatible with a similar scheme of liberties for all.’ According to John Rawls, these basic liberties are of overriding importance and should always be given priority. These basic liberties include namely freedom of thought, liberty of conscience, political liberties, freedom of association, freedoms specified by the liberty and integrity of the person as well as other rights and liberties covered by the rule of law. Basically, in Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China, all of the aforementioned basic rights and liberties are protected by Basic Law.
As mentioned by John Rawls, liberty of conscience is practiced by freedom of thought and freedom of assembly. The Basic Law in Hong Kong has empowered Hong Kong citizens the aforementioned rights. For example, protests and demonstration are allowed in Hong Kong despite the chaos and riots caused in society sometimes. This echoes John Rawls’ proposition of ‘each person possesses an inviolability founded on justice that even the welfare of society as a whole cannot override’. Hong Kong citizens’ basic liberties of thought and assembly are respected and protected even sometimes that they may harm the social order. In this regard, Hong Kong citizens are guaranteed the liberty of associate with other like-minded citizens and the liberty of conscience of the Equal Liberty Principle proposed by John Rawls’ can be met. According to John Rawls, the liberty of conscience also means the freedom of religion. Hong Kong has always been proud of her interlace and multitude of different cultures and religions. To name but a few, Christianity, Buddhism, Muslim, Indus and so forth are the religions found in Hong Kong. Even Falun Dafa, a religion that has already been banned in Mainland China, can still be found in Hong Kong. The evangelism of Falun Dafa has not been interfered by the Hong Kong government.
Freedoms specified by the liberty and integrity of the person, as explained by John Rawls, include freedom from slavery and serfdom and freedom of movement and choice regarding occupation. As a modern city, Hong Kong has long abolished slavery and serfdom system. Freedom of movement is also empowered to Hong Kong citizens. As stated in Basic Law, Hong Kong residents have the freedom to travel and to enter or leave the region. This attribute has made Hong Kong a regional transportation and financial hub....