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Hong Kong's political realities
Publication Date : 28-08-2014
Local people have publicly rejected 'Occupy Central' and they have warned troublemakers not to do anything that will hurt the SAR
Hong Kong, despite its small size, is respected by the international community for its economic achievements, its status as an international financial center and its generally well-behaved citizens.
But now the Special Administrative Region is attracting international attention for different reasons. This time the focus is on the debate over constitutional reform and the public meddling in the issue by some foreign powers. Some local people do not fully realise how serious this interference by foreign forces is.
The Egyptian consul-general in Hong Kong recently said the city should not repeat his country's mistake in blindly copying Western democracy. The Jordanian and Syrian consuls-general in Hong Kong offered similar advice. Even the consuls-general of some - pro-Western - Eastern European countries have voiced similar concerns. Many foreign business people working here have also spoken out. These foreigners know and love Hong Kong.
People who think Hongkongers shun political issues don't really know us. In the past villagers from the New Territories resisted invasion by British colonial forces. Hong Kong-based guerrillas joined forces with mainland counterparts in armed resistance against Japanese invaders. They helped save the lives of Allied pilots shot down during World War II. Local residents cared about developments on the mainland and the handover of Hong Kong back to Chinese governance. All these things show Hong Kong people are committed to political issues.
Intense disputes over Hong Kong's constitutional reform continue among local people. But there is no question that certain foreign forces are also involved. They include foreign intelligence agents, instigators of "color revolutions" and financial speculators. They have colluded with subversive forces to hurt Hong Kong's economy and then profit from the chaos.
But the concern Hong Kong people feel about this was apparent when more than 1.5 million local residents signed the petition against "Occupy Central" recently. They clearly rejected this illegal campaign designed to paralyze Hong Kong's financial business district in the name of "true democracy" and "genuine universal suffrage". The unprecedented public rejection of "Occupy Central" proves Hongkongers are well aware of foreign powers' real intentions behind their support for the "occupiers". They are astute about these realities and used this as an opportunity to warn these troublemakers not to do anything which will hurt Hong Kong.
This week the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress is deliberating on the SAR government's report on five months of public consultation over constitutional development. It is expected to reach a decision on arrangements for the election, by universal suffrage, of the Chief Executive in 2017. This will be the first time Hong Kong residents will get to elect the Chief Executive by universal suffrage. Hong Kong has every reason to be proud of this - if everything goes ahead as planned.
The election of the Chief Executive by universal suffrage is not the concern of a small group of people, or one party or organization, but of all legitimate Hong Kong voters. Therefore, the NPCSC will consider the interests of all parties when it makes a decision on how the 2017 election of the Chief Executive by universal suffrage should be conducted. It will not deviate from existing principles. The decision will likely provide guidelines for the Nominating Committee. For example, the NPCSC may demand democratic consultation to ensure the opinions of the minority are considered.
The Nominating Committee and the existing Chief Executive Election Committee are two different institutions which have different purposes. The Nominating Committee must work as one instead of a group of individuals. That is why the Nominating Committee is likely to preside over the meetings and coordinate the line-up of nominees, so the candidates are not all from one party or political camp. Although the Nominating Committee must operate by majority decision, which means more than 50 percent approval is required, it should be able to make democratic consultation work.
Democratic consultation is a principle to which the Communist Party of China has always adhered. We have no reason to worry that the NPCSC may somehow deviate from this.
Another issue which needs to be raised is that the opposition should stop attacking senior citizens who participated in the August 17 anti-Occupy march. Some elderly people received some money for transport costs and for meals. But only heartless hypocrites would begrudge them the right to this. These elderly people braved the scorching heat and made a long trip from their homes to Victoria Park in Causeway Bay. They then walked all the way to Chater Garden in Central.
One elderly woman in her 80s said she did not know the purpose of the march. Some biased media commentators then used her comments as an excuse to dismiss almost 200,000 other protesters. Would the opposition parties and their media allies treat their own elderly supporters that way? I don't think so! Besides, HK$100 ($12.90) or so for bus fares and meals cannot compare with the huge sums which opposition parties and some "pan-democrats" received from tycoon Jimmy Lai. How many marches could these illicit donations have funded over the years?
The author is a veteran journalist based in Hong Kong.