Democracy diatribes are making us all mad in Hong Kong

Michael Chugani says with illogic ruling Hong Kong politics right now, there can be no winners, whether pan-democratic or Beijing loyalist

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 July, 2014, 12:52pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 12 July, 2014, 1:50am

It has been a dizzying few weeks. So much has been hurled at Hongkongers from all sides that many of us are walking in a daze. Protesters break down doors to storm the Legislative Council. Beijing slaps us with a stern policy document telling us who is boss. Tens of thousands of Hongkongers send a message to Beijing by participating in an unofficial referendum on democracy and a mass street protest.

Police arrest five organisers for breaking protest permit rules, and another 500 or so mostly young people for holding an Occupy Central rehearsal. Pan-democrats walk out during question time with Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying in Legco. Radical lawmaker Wong Yuk-man jumps on a table to hurl a water glass at him. Leung's wife goes before the media to angrily denounce a university lecturer for writing about the couple's daughter, who posted a Facebook picture of her slashed wrist.

Democracy activists pressure HSBC to backtrack on a report warning that Occupy Central could hurt the stock market and sour ties with the mainland. The Anglican Church is browbeaten into playing down a sermon by the archbishop, Paul Kwong, who urged democracy supporters to keep quiet, as Jesus did.

Hong Kong has become a cuckoo's nest. Lunacy has replaced politics. We have lost sight of logic. Where is the logic when Occupy Central co-organiser Dr Chan Kin-man slams the HSBC report with the argument that the civil disobedience protest would only cause a temporary disturbance? Former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang said in a recent radio interview that it would only last a day or so. Isn't the protest intended to paralyse Central to the point where it pressures Beijing to give us true democracy? Where is the logic of doing it if organisers say it won't last long and won't do much damage? How is that supposed to force Beijing's hand?

Doesn't free speech mean everyone can have their say? But, in our cuckoo's nest, that's only the case if you say the right things. HSBC and the archbishop said the wrong things. The archbishop's sermon was stupid but surely free speech allows stupidity. True free-speech believers who disagreed with HSBC and the archbishop would still have respected their right to say what they did. In our hypocritical free-speech society, they are browbeaten into self-censorship by the very people who complain about self-censorship.

I sympathised with Leung's plea for privacy so he and his wife could deal with their troubled daughter. What logic then compelled Regina Leung Tong Ching-yee to reignite the matter by lashing out in public at Ivan Choy Chi-keung? Surely it was lunacy for Leung Chun-ying to say the executive and legislative branches have a cosy relationship when everyone knows the two sides loathe each other.

Hong Kong is not apartheid South Africa, repressive Burma or racist 1960s America. But the democracy camp likes to pretend we are by threatening civil disobedience. It is a stretch to say Hong Kong could become a base to subvert China. But that is Beijing's mindset. Is there any way to pull ourselves out of all this lunacy? I fear not. We're in too deep. If aliens in a spaceship were ever to approach our cuckoo's nest, they'd do well to fly over it.

Michael Chugani is a columnist and TV show host.