The Enduring Cosmos
"Understanding Honour and Disgrace and Assuming One's Responsibilities is an Important Mission"

In his address to the China Democratic League at the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and the China Association for Promoting Democracy in March 2006, President Hu Jintao pinpointed the importance of "Eight Honours and Eight Disgraces". His message is worth pondering for all of us.

Eight Honours and Eight Disgraces

Love, do not harm the motherland;
Serve, don't disserve the people;
Uphold science, don't be ignorant and unenlightened;
Work hard, don't be lazy and hate work;
Be united and help each other, don't gain benefi ts at the expense of others;
Be honest and trustworthy, not profit-mongering at the expense of your values;
Be disciplined and law-abiding instead of chaotic and lawless;
Know plain living and hard struggle, do not wallow in luxuries and pleasures.

The Chinese people have traditionally valued integrity and the ability to understand what is honourable and disgraceful. They are considered to be representative attributes of human being. The classical maxim "Understanding disgrace, a man will not do what he should not."(1) means that the sense of disgrace discourages one from doing what should not be done. While the law empowers the Authority to take disciplinary actions against those practitioners found to be in breach of code of conduct, the effectiveness of punishment is limited as it can only serve as deterrence but not change offenders' attitude. I truly believe that the sustainable progress of an industry or a society requires each and every individual to have self-discipline, which stems from a sense of disgrace and the correct values of honour and morality.

The estate agent sector has contributed greatly to Hong Kong's economy over the years. However, our society needs more than just material gains; it also requires spiritual support in the form of guidance on value and code of conduct. Amidst emphasis on economic development, calls on "disgrace in gaining benefits at the expense of others" and "disgrace in violating laws and disciplines" provide inspiring food for thought.

Honour and disgrace is not only a concern at the country or national-level, but also in the daily life of every single citizen. Morality and justice will prevail if everyone has a sense of disgrace. The saying "Where every intellectual understands disgrace, the country will never be in disgrace." (2) means that a country will stay away from humiliation if every intellectual has a sense of disgrace. Thus, we can see that the ability to understand honour and disgrace is not only a matter of personal character and reputation – it also affects the rise and fall of a country or nation.

In practice, what this sense of honour and disgrace means for front-line real estate agents is that they should "be honest and trustworthy, not profit-mongering at the expense of values"; for employers and managers, it means they should formulate proper policies or procedures and make sure that these are followed by their staff.

Understanding honour and disgrace and assuming one's responsibilities is an important mission where every estate agent, as a member of the industry, the society and the country, has a part to play.

(1)Zhu Xi, ideologist of Lixue in Song Dynasty: Zhuzi Yulei, Part 13
(2)Gong Zizhen, ideologist in Ching Dynasty: Ming Liang Lun Er



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