Saturday, October 18, 2014

"Rule of Law" Against "Rule by Law"

In the pre-dawn hours of October 18, 2014, the Hong Kong police, having earlier cleared road obstacles in the Mongkok area and having narrowed down the protest area to the southern part of Nathan Road  (but almost immediately protesters replaced and reinforced the road blocks), began a violent attack on unarmed and peaceful protesters. They charged into the crowd wielding batons indiscriminately on the protesters, while shouting on loudspeakers: "Stop using violence!". It is clear from various video clips that protesters had never charged at the police nor had acted violently, and they had nothing but umbrellas, goggles and masks for self-protection. A number of protesters got beaten on the head and bled profusely. Obviously, this sudden use of violence by the police without pre-warning has done nothing but stir more people to come out to occupy the streets. All this happened right on the heel of C.Y. Leung's government having consented to hold talks with representatives of the Hong Kong Federation of Students on Tuesday, October 21, 2014. Such incoherent action on the part of the SAR government is considered by the students and protesters to be serving no constructive purpose in the way of resolving the stalemate between government and the protesters.

Rumor has it that the handling of the street protests are being directly controlled by Chinese senior officials who are gathered at a luxury villa in Shenzhen for the purpose, and that Hong Kong officials travel frequently to Shenzhen to obtain instructions.

It is plain that the deepening clash is actually rooted in the fundamental difference in views about the spirit of law held by the pro-democracy camp (in fact most Hong Kongers) and the pro-government camp (including the Beijing and SAR governments). The SAR/Beijing governments regard "依法施政" (which can be interpreted as "Rule by Law") as their sacrosanct right and entitlement with no room for compromise. Once the governments determine a public act as illegal, they automatically have the inviolable right to put a stop to it even if it means resorting to excessive force and violence and ignoring citizens' basic rights. On the other hand, Hong Kongers are used to the concept of "Rule of Law" and universal values like human rights and freedoms (which are in fact protected under the Basic Law). "Rule of law" can be interpreted as "依法限權" (thanks to Legislator Dennis Kwok for this innovative and apt interpretation), meaning that the spirit of law demands self-restraint on the part of those holding power (such as a government), allowing an independent judiciary to protect the rights and freedoms of citizens. A shining example of the rule of law in practice is that Joshua Wong, who had been arrested on some unsustainable charges, was released within forty-eight hours by virtue of a court decision and order.

It is a shame and a pity that the C.Y. Leung government (in particular C. Y. Leung himself, the Chief Police Commissioner and the Chief of Security) have been trying their best to erode the spirit of Rule of Law and to make the police force a political tool for suppression of dissidents in a manner similar to that in Mainland China. The threesome have repeatedly and unilaterally labeled the Umbrella Movement as illegal and using that label as an excuse to repeatedly use excessive force and violence on peaceful protesters. There has been a case of a blatant abuse of power by seven policemen who were caught on camera brutally kicking and punching a handcuffed protester. Moreover, under the dishonorable leadership of the aforementioned threesome, citizens and policemen are being catapulted against each other in mounting distrust.

Protesters must remember to stay peaceful, keep calm and refrain from provoking the police, while the police must try to understand the Umbrella Movement only symbolizes citizens' peaceful demand for the right to choose and nominate the next Chief Executive. All Hong Kongers should unite and guard against the gradual erosion of the "Rule of Law", a most cherished core value, without which Hong Kong is not Hong Kong.

 

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream







Saturday, October 11, 2014

An Open Letter to Xi Jinping from the Hong Kong Students


Here's the link to the Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS) webpage showing the English version of an open letter addressed to Xi Jinping from HKFS and Scholarism:-

An Open Letter dated 11th October, 2014

I can see the great effort that the students have made in their attempt to allay fears that Chinese leaders may have been harboring about Hong Kong trying to organize a color revolution, which has never been the case in the first place. Therefore great emphasis has been placed on the motto "the issue of politics to be resolved by politics" ("政治問題政治解决"), implying that this should not be mistaken for an attempt to slight China's sovereign power over Hong Kong. Also, the letter stresses that the proposed political reform, being a Hong Kong problem, should best be resolved within Hong Kong, meaning that Hong Kong people's wishes must be taken into account if only out of respect for the "one country, two systems" framework.

The crux of the letter is naturally to lay blame where it is justifiably due - on C. Y. Leung.

Perhaps one can say that the translation (or the original) of the letter could have been improved on, but the students' selfless sincerity and courage of conviction of ideals that pervades throughout cannot be denied and more than makes up for the literary imperfection.

  



Wednesday, October 8, 2014

An Enlightening Q & A (in a Chinese article) from Inmediahk.com


A salient passage from the article:-

「學生就應該專心學習,之後貢獻社會,此刻浪費光陰投身民主運動,必然得不償失。」有人說。

「如何才叫貢獻社會?不斷為香港經濟貢獻生產力就叫貢獻,為社會發聲就叫浪費?一個社會之所以可以安居樂業,除了健康的經濟發展,不同範疇都會直接影響。 如果人民之間對立分裂嚴重,可以如何團結去發展經濟,建立安穩的社會?如果政治和政策傾斜權貴,基層中產無法分得經濟成果,如何要人民戮力推動社會和經濟 前進?如果人民連基本的發言權也在政權的陰霾下盡失,如何使得人民安心生活?一個民主社會就是可以將社會分裂的問題解決;可以把經濟成果透過政策分給各階 層的人民;可以讓市民透過票源去發聲。我們學生也正從這些方面為社會出力,這些不也是貢獻嗎?再講,誰說學習一家要在家中在學校,街頭也可以是課室,人民 的獨到見解是學習的東西,這都是老師家長不會教的。」有人答。

"Students should focus their attention on their studies, and afterwards contribute to society. If they squander their time on this democratic movement, it is they who will suffer a loss," someone said.

"What is meant by contributing to society? Does the meaning have to be confined to working towards Hong Kong's economic productivity? Why is the act of making our voices heard being labeled as a waste of time and energy? In order for citizens of a society to be able to enjoy a decent and stable life, there are important values to consider other than the benefit of healthy economic development. If public opinion is seriously divided between different factions, how can we ever reach consensus on how to develop the economy and to achieve harmony and stability? If politics and policies are always inclined in favor of the rich and powerful, making it impossible for the lower and middle social strata to share the cake of economic success, how do you motivate all citizens to work for the common goal of achieving social and economic progress? If citizens' basic right to free speech is eroded under an overbearing government, how can the citizens have peace of mind? A democratic society is one that aims to solve the issues that split public opinion; that aims to distribute economic surpluses among all social strata; that allows citizens to voice their opinions through voting. We students are exactly striving to work towards these ends. Is this not a sort of contribution to society? As a digression, who says that learning must be done at home or at school? The streets can be a classroom too. What we learn here are the common people's unique perspectives. These are never taught by parents or teachers," someone answered.


 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

News Video (Split Screens) re: Umbrella Movement

Confusion tactics are employed, using mobsters to provoke protesters and then using disorder as an excuse to clear out protesters.



Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream




Tuesday, September 30, 2014

My Thoughts and Observations on the "Umbrella Movement"




I’ve been refraining from commenting on Hong Kong current affairs because I feel that observing development of events in Hong Kong from far away has its limitations, which would cloud my judgment and render it unfair.

However, over the past few days, something momentous and of historical importance has taken place and has unleashed on me too great an emotional impact for me not to at least record my thoughts and observations, even if these may be partial and biased.

The deep rift between Beijing/HKSAR governments and Hong Kong’s younger generations over political reform has come to a head, and boiling discontent over social and political issues has finally erupted into what is now termed the “Umbrella Revolution”.

What has been bugging me most is Beijing’s and the Hong Kong Chief Executive CY Leung’s obtuse and patronizing attitude towards the voices of the students and the supporters of the OCCUPY CENTRAL movement (now termed the “UMBRELLA MOVEMENT”, because umbrellas were used by the protesters to protect themselves against police’s indiscriminate pepper spraying) over their demand for true democracy. Those in power do not have one ounce of respect for the movement supporters and have not even deigned to communicate with them direct in an honest manner. (I will go into the background of the dispute later.)

All they could do so far is to keep parroting the same stale line that political reform has to be in accordance with terms laid down in the Basic Law. BUT WHY DOES THAT HAVE TO BE? If what is laid down in the Basic Law is against the wishes of the majority of Hong Kong people, why can’t it be changed, not to mention that it’s merely a matter of difference in interpretations, with Beijing’s interpretation open to ridicule? They keep avoiding the singularly most essential question, which is a question of diluting the political power now concentrated within the wealthiest elite of Hong Kong, as represented by the 1,200-member election committee, all of whom grovel to Beijing, and whom Beijing’s princeling elite are in bed with.

Perhaps the reason they keep avoiding the issue is because they know too well their position is untenable. They know very well that Hong Kong people’s demand for true democracy is grounded in society’s wish to dismantle the propertied ruling class who are essentially the same elite that influences every policy-making decision of the SAR government and who wields political power through the 1,200-member election committee as well as through the functional constituencies in the Legislative Council.
  
When CY Leung was asked in a recent press conference whether he was actually protecting the rich people’s interests by refusing to budge on the political reform proposal, he replied, in the usually devious and sly way, that his anti-speculative measures are proof that he is not on the property cartel’s side. Who does he think he can fool? His measures have failed to even stop the property market from continuing to rise, let alone scratch the surface of the deeply entrenched interests of the cartel. Let us not forget that it was he who appointed Franklin Lam, the notorious property speculator and big fan of leading developer Sun Hung Kai Properties Group, as an Executive Council member. Let us also not forget that it was CY Leung who refused to put into place rental control regulations to ease the pain of low-income renters and those dwellers of cage homes and subdivided flats.
  
I am aware that Hong Kong society has been divided over the controversy of the political reform proposal. Roughly there are two camps of thought: one is about support of the HKSAR government-led and Beijing-approved version, which is very little different from the status quo (i.e. maintaining the 1,200-member nominating (election) committee consisting of Beijing-friendly elitist personnel for the pre-selection of the 2017 Chief Executive candidates, and capping the number of candidates at two or three, on whom the populace can then vote); the other camp is about rejecting the reform proposal outright and pushing for genuine universal suffrage – i.e. for all citizens to have the right to nominate the CE candidates and to vote on the nominees.

The insistence on all citizens’ right to nominate is grounded in the latter camp’s belief that the Beijing Government wants to pre-empt pro-democracy personnel entering the race, thus maintaining total control on the CE candidates, a fact that is much resented by Hong Kong’s young people and pro-democracy legislators and their supporters, as is evident with their hatred for C Y Leung, who is regarded as Beijing’s puppet and who is inclined towards autocratic governance like his masters,  including suppression of freedoms. (His endorsement of the Hong Kong Police’s use of pepper spray and tear gas on peaceful protesters on September 27 and 28 is one sound proof of that inclination.)

Although I have no solid data to back me up, I would tend to think that those who are on side with Beijing and the SAR government and think that democratization is a long process and should be taken one step at a time, typically belong to the upper- and middle-class who have accumulated certain wealth and social status and who are most afraid of changes and of pissing Beijing off. In fact, many of my school friends (post 50s) are inclined towards such mentality. It seems to me that they are not that well informed and are unaware that on record, Hong Kong has been fighting for democracy for 30 years. While I understand the mind-set of these people, I beg to differ in opinion and stance. You can call me naïve, but my sympathies would always lie with those who have ideals and dare to act or speak up for social justice and civil freedoms.

There are much too much inequality and injustice in Hong Kong for it to be able to move forward as a model metropolis of the 21st century with equal opportunities for all and better social welfare for the underprivileged. Thanks to Hong Kong’s young people, we can see some silver lining that change is possible. I am glad to see that the international community is at last paying attention to their bravery, spirit, self-discipline and uprightness.

No one said it better than Joshua Wong (leader of Scholarism): if the students don’t come out to stand in the frontline, who will? All I can do is quietly support these students and youngsters and pray for their safety.

 If only China is visionary enough to grasp this opportunity to allow Hong Kong to be the beacon city for democracy, it will instantly earn itself international respect and applause. This would be a much much better display of soft power than those Confucian Institutes.