Don't exclude Beijing

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 February, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 February, 2004, 12:00am

Frank Ching is as confused in the column headlined 'Whose power?' (January 30) as he was in 'Power play' (January 8).

As I pointed out in my letter headlined 'Political slogans' (January 28), the Chinese word zheng in the slogan huanzheng yumin is not 'political power'. It means zhengquan (regime), or zhengfu (government). Huan is 'return'.

Huanzheng yumin means 'return the regime' or 'return the government' to the people, and not just returning political power to the people. It definitely means a great deal more than changing the method of electing the chief executive.

According to the Basic Law, the executive authorities are the government (Article 59). Both the head of the government, i.e. the chief executive and the principal officials are appointed by the central government (Articles 45, 48 and 60).

The slogan 'return the government' ( or 'return the regime' ) to the people is therefore seen to mean, if the word 'people' refers only to the Hong Kong people, the exclusion of Beijing's authority. Judging by the response of Beijing in the past month, this slogan is clearly counter-productive.

Why did seasoned activists who have experience of the tussle 20 years ago re-use huanzheng yumin to demand just direct elections? On this point, Ching said he asked an organiser of the marches and was told that the organisers wanted to use ' a vaguer and more moderate' slogan than calling 'for the downfall of the chief executive'.

I am truly surprised by the recklessness. Judging by Beijing's reaction after the march, we can all see that the use of this slogan is totally counter-productive and has done a disservice to all.

Ching did not answer this question I put to him: if applied to Hong Kong, how does he reconcile his concept of 'returning political power to the people in a country' (even if this is the correct meaning of the slogan) with the fact that Hong Kong is only part of a country? Under 'one country, two systems', is the 'one country' Hong Kong and 'the people' just the Hong Kong people?

These are not straightforward issues. Neither are they new. They have been debated at length during the five years of Basic Law drafting, which resulted in the many compromises and delicate balance now enshrined in the Basic Law.

I therefore caution against regurgitating textbook theories and borrowing from the experience of other ex-colonies.

C. Y. LEUNG, Executive Council member