• Fri
  • Dec 19, 2014
  • Updated: 5:20pm
Occupy Central
CommentInsight & Opinion

Hong Kong must bridge widening divide over universal suffrage

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 29 March, 2013, 3:41pm

Hongkongers need genuine democracy - of that there can be no debate. How it is to come about and what form it takes remains unclear and has to be thoroughly discussed by stakeholders. The aspirations of the organisers of a new movement to push for universal suffrage can, therefore, not be faulted. But they miss the mark as soon as their talk turns to attaining goals through civil disobedience.

Unfortunately, the Let Love and Peace Occupy Central movement seems more focused on the latter part of its name than the first. A three-stage strategy of increasingly disruptive and, if necessary, unlawful protest has been promised to force the government's hand on universal suffrage. The originator of the idea, University of Hong Kong law professor Benny Tai Yiu-ting, and his supporters envisage tactics like thousands of people blocking traffic in Central, forced by-elections and mass jaywalking. They have stressed that all will be peaceful and there will be no violence, but in an increasingly heated political environment, nothing can be taken for granted.

Our city has a proud record of peaceful protest. Authorities take pains to address concerns. Disrupting lives and breaking the law are not acceptable ways to make views known. This has to be especially so in Central. Being Hong Kong's financial heart, business and reputation can too easily be affected.

But such pre-planned action also widens a divide between sides that is already yawning. Top Beijing official Qiao Xiaoyang, chairman of the Law Committee of the National People's Congress, has not helped by articulating what would appear to be rigid requirements for the chief executive election in 2017. The manner in which he gave the details - in a speech to pro-Beijing Hong Kong lawmakers in Shenzhen - and Beijing's apparent blessing through the transcript posted on the website of the central government's Hong Kong liaison office, have spurred Tai and his supporters. There is particular concern in two of Qiao's prerequisites for electing the chief executive: that it has to be in line with the decision of the NPC Standing Committee and that "those confronting the central government are not allowed to become the chief executive".

Positions have been clearly laid down, although in less than ideal ways. Confrontation can now not be an option; there is too much at stake. Universal suffrage is promised by the Basic Law and it has to be attained amicably. All sides have to talk to one another directly. Disruptive protests are not an option.


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This article is now closed to comments

I'm sorry to say this as HK person but im actually afraid of what would happen in HK if there was real democracy. I can imagine the images of Taiwanese officials fighting in parliament or perpetual demonstrations of the people of Thailand. HK is an advanced society but in many ways the people are very very behind in their way of thinking....
The Founding Fathers of the Great American Republic, whose ideas embody the best Democracy has to offer, which Hong Kong morons hold as gospel, never implemented one-man-one-vote populist elections. Only landed gentry had the right to vote. It wasn't until 1920 that suffrage was extended to women. Blacks were often barred from balloting in many Confederate states until 1965 Civil Rights Act.
Is American democracy better today than 1781? Back then the US had great leaders like Hamilton, Adams, Jefferson, Franklin and others. It was really a meritocratic system under a democracy guise. What kind of political candidates do we have today in Hong Kong? Enough said.
This is at best an inocuous, silly editorial.
hard times !
how about our National Father,Dr.Sun Yet-sen who refused to serve the Qing Dynasty rulers by his expertise in medicine.Instead he fled/travelled overseas to collect money to overthrow that corrupted and incapble plus autocratic Dynasty ! Was Dr.Sen a geniune patriot ? No one will/dare deny it ! He demonstrated that 'loving one's own country or Hong Kong as well' not necessarily means loving the ruling regime ! Right ? whymak should read the editorial in an objective view and clear-minded plus modern political ideas instead of quoting characters in the eighteenth century. I wonder why didn't this guy quote our Mencius who said that,'people is the most valuable,the nation comes second, while the leader comes at the end of the three' ?
hard times !
fully agree that Hongkongers (at least the majority of us ) want and favour a geniune universal suffrage.There can be no debate.Yet it is to come about and in what form requires a thorough discussion and consultation to be launched by the Leung administration next year and not later than next year.To push our goal to be realized by staging a civil-disobedience movement,'Occupy Central' is the last resort as Professor Tai claimed. We honour geniune universal suffrage and never a faked or false one just like we welcome geniune e-mails from our internet suppliers or other corporations such as HSBC or the Jockey Club but never those rubbish scam ones from a cheapest hacker who happened to be one of the 'readers' of this prestigious newspaper in Hong Kong.What a pity it is ! May this nastiest guy meet Chairman Mao the sooner the better.Right ?


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