• Sun
  • Dec 21, 2014
  • Updated: 10:10pm
My Take
PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 December, 2012, 2:42am

Will Hong Kong let democracy slip from its grasp?

Cometh the hour, cometh the man. I don't know who said this proverb first. There is something like it in Matthew and Luke, though the passages clearly refer to Jesus. But the way it has come down to us is what may be called the optimist's version of history.

It means that at crucial moments, a courageous leader will come forth to guarantee his nation's future - like Irish nationalist Michael Collins, who travelled to London to secure Ireland's independence, and Anwar Sadat, who made his fateful trip to Jerusalem to make peace with the Israelis.

I can't think of an exact equivalent of a cynic or realist's version of the proverb. But there is something like it; when commenting on the revolutions of 1848, the British historian AJP Taylor famously wrote: "German history reached its turning point and failed to turn."

Great historians work on the minutest devilish details to extract universal lessons. As Harvard economic historian Niall Ferguson said, Taylor's comment on Germany is applicable to most countries in most years.

In the same article, Ferguson made fun of journalists - who "have surely reported nine out of the last five revolutions".

But it does not seem an exaggeration to report that Hong Kong is reaching a turning point, a democratic transition, if not a revolution. Either we aim for full democracy, which is only possible if those who truly believe in it dare to pursue rapprochement with Beijing and develop a workable relationship based on trust and mutual respect.

Or we risk what we have now indefinitely - political and policy paralysis; permanent and intransigent opposition; and the hijacking of democratic politics by fringe groups and a yellow press.

All these simply spell irreversible decline for Hong Kong as other great Asian and mainland cities overtake us. Apologies to our anti-locust narcissists and I-hate-Beijing egoists and myopics, but the way the pan-dems behave nowadays is holding back democratic progress as much as the government.

Will Hong Kong reach a turning point and fail to turn? Or are there courageous and visionary democrats out there who will make that fateful trip to Beijing to secure our democratic future?

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This article is now closed to comments

martinturner
It is overly simplistic to suggest that there are only two possible ways for our fate to unfold – negotiated democracy or paralysis and decline. At least one other option is staring at us from across the Pearl River Delta. Macau (sorry, Macao) is smaller and more homogenous than Hong Kong and has fewer pretensions to lead. But its government is following a highly profitable path of corralling its people into a gambling-centric economic plan, while slavishly following Beijing’s line on everything else, including the trappings of respect for the centre and the practical matters of refusing entry to inquisitive Hong Kong journalists and generally keeping the lid on all the deeper human rights.
Hence, if only the foreign-inspired democratic lap dogs in Hong Kong would roll over, our manifold assets could be turned to creating a paradise of “Communism with Hong Kong characteristics”.
mymak
The foreign champions of democracy in charge of Hong Kong previously had over 150 years to introduce universal suffrage. What went wrong Martin? The Central Government has only had 15 years to date. Do you think you and the numerous China bashers on these pages could actually state what your type of preferred universal suffrage system would look like? That is, put forward a real policy proposal and not just shout as loudly as you can that you are unhappy. Then perhaps some useful discussion can take place.
spunkyjj
It's very simple. One Registered Voter - One vote. You want a meaningful discussion? Let's discuss this.
mymak
That answers nothing. What is your actual proposal. One vote gets you what? Are you voting just for the CE? Or are you voting for a party and the winning party selects the CE? This happens in the UK. When John Major first became PM it was because a few hundred elected MP chose to remove Thatcher and put him in place. He wasn't elected by the people. In another case US President Gerald Ford took the top post following a scandal involving his predecessor. He was not elected. What system do you want?
In the past the UK simply appointed a Governor of HK. The last Governor of HK lost an election in the UK otherwise we would never have heard of Patten.
spunkyjj
One Register Voter-One Vote for the election of the Chief Executive.
One Register Voter-One Vote for the election of the Legislative Committee Members (which is what we are doing today in the District Constituencies).
One Register Voter-One Vote for the election of the District Board Members (which is what we are doing today in the District Council elections except for the appointed members).
mymak
One of the big problems facing Hong Kong now is that some members of LECGO feel they have a public mandate to stall legislation. Wouldn't it be better to combine the election of the CE with that of the LEGCO members, i.e. the party with the most seats wins and they appoint the CE (of course in reality we would know that it is the leader of the winning party). Yes it's like the British system but I think it is better than the US system where the President needs to spend an inordinate amount of time in trying to get legislation passed. This system would also negate those members who think they have a public mandate to stall. It would also have the advantage of being less costly.
Maybe you are surprised at the response, but I was happy to see yours. I am in favour of Universal Suffrage but just could not now vote for the banana, shoe throwing party. I may have done in the past.
Camel
What if, you know the voters has no idea what they are voting? Look to Egypt. The Muslim Brothers and Musri are elected government and President. They want now to turn the country into an radical islamic state. Musri even make himself immun against the judicative. The opposition fight furiously against it even if it comes to civil war. I thought in a democratic election everything is fine and both government and opposition will play along? What is wrong now? some get elected, the other side does not like the policy the elected party is introducing and want to reverse the election. Is it that what you want? Rather give this a time, when the time is right and the people got educated. One registered voter - One vote is a dream and a luxury of a developed country. Just to introduce this, does not mean that everything will be fine. No, even much more damage can be done. Just think of Long Hair in the Government or worser as CE and you know what I mean.
achiang
Is Hong Kong the Middle East? LoL
scmpbeijing1
Basic journalism dictates that we don't wait six paragraphs to get to the story. Are there no competent editors at the South China Morning Post to explain this to journalists? But more important, the author talks about people daring "to seek rapprochement with Beijing?" Does he really believe Beijing is capable of negotiating with anyone? If so, Alex Lo is more naive than I thought he was. Where has he been all these years?
Camel
>>"Does he really believe Beijing is capable of negotiating with anyone?"<<
Why do you think HK is currently a Special Administrated Region for 50 Years?

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