• Sat
  • Sep 20, 2014
  • Updated: 8:57am
My Take
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 20 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 20 April, 2013, 3:24am

How I occupied Benny Tai's lunch hour

Benny Tai Yiu-ting teaches at HKU and I live next door in Pok Fu Lam. But, no, the associate law professor who plans to hold up traffic in Central to press for democracy wanted to meet for lunch in out-of-the-way Sha Tin. Rather typical, I thought, of a man who just wants to make things difficult.

Funnily enough, he admits he is not making it easy for anyone with his Occupy Central plan. All I knew about Tai was what I had read and seen on television. So I was expecting fire and brimstone, a "Long Hair" in academic robes.

He turned out to be one of those cuddly professors found on every campus who would talk to anyone interested in their research. People tend to make him a hero or villain. But there would have been mass protests in the run-up to the 2017 chief executive race if Tai had never written a word about Occupy Central. In his academic mind, he thinks a free and fair election will be in everyone's interest, including Beijing's. But I said that while we may be ready for democracy, the reality is that Beijing is not.

Tai believes political reform on the mainland is inevitable. He agrees, surprisingly, that the central government enjoys a high degree of legitimacy. "Surveys have shown very high numbers," he said. But it's what he calls performance-based legitimacy. When economic growth stalls, he says, Beijing will need a more sustainable kind of legitimacy. "If I can think of this point, Beijing has people who have already thought it through," he said. "They must worry not just about today but 10 or 20 years down the road." Why not use tiny Hong Kong, he asks, as a reform experiment that can be contained if things go wrong?

He thinks that in a free and fair race, the Beijing-friendly camp would still win, provided it had a half-decent candidate, but not by a landslide. So the government would have the legitimacy denied it now. The pan-democrats, seeing the possibility of real power, would learn to work with Beijing and stop their "destructive" - his word, not mine - opposition for opposition's sake. Its radical fringe would wither away. Does this mean that, as the price of power, the pan-dems will learn to shut up about one-party rule, human rights, the suppression of dissent and media censorship? He seemed to agree, but he was munching on his caesar salad so I couldn't hear very well.

Share

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive
 
 

 

9

This article is now closed to comments

hard times !
johnwe's so-called comment is itself senseless and meaningless as well ! Professor Tai is a respected scholar in the territory and a mild-mannered one whose patience has dried up after so many years chatting and communicating with so-called go-betweens from the Mainland on our electoral reforms.He and Professor Chan Kin-man both now well know that our promised universal suffrage will never come out to be a geniune one which conforms to the standards set by the UN's International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights article 25(b) and also our Basic Law articles 26 and 39 which all stipulate that in a universal suffrage, the people enjoy the right to vote and to be voted (run for office)---absolutely no so-called a screening mechanism or a primary poll so as to get rid of unwelcomed candidates of Beijing---those who are accused of not loving the country (the Party instead) and Hong Kong (how can it be ?) and 'confrontational towards the Beijing authorities (implying those who advocate ending the one-party autocratic rule and practises a multi-party democratic political system !) Right ? Anyway, most Hong Kong people with sense and guts should firmly support Professor Tai's civil-disobedience:the 'Occupy Central'movement to fight for our promised universal suffrage which should never be a faked one !! See you all in Central in July,2014 !
hard times !
yeah,Alex Lo shoud invite Professor Tai for a dinner near his Pok Fu Lum residence so as to hear clearly what the professor's intention of his 'Occupy Central' more precisely and remember, no more Caesar salad but just soup and rice/noodles so that the chat may go more smoothly and we readers are more than eager to know what is stored deep in the professor's mind.
impala
Seriously, this is the best you can do when you finally have lunch with the guy you have been fulminating against for months? We dont get a frank and respectful exchange of views but snarky remarks about munching on a caesar salad? And 'out of the way' Shatin? Professor Tai was probably trying to make you aware there is live outside of your elitarian Hong Kond island Mid-Level centred bubble, and to his credit since you badly need it. Check out the 'Lunch with the FT' series for a proper way of doing entertaining yet informative interviews and that by a right-leaning newspaper, even with infamous left wing agitators like Chomsky.

Yet again, we learned exactly nothing from this column except that the trolling Mr Lo holds Prof Tai in such contempt that it is not beyond him to attempt a character assassination of the 'cuddly professor' over what was intended to be friendly and respectful lunch. What a low piece of journalism, if it even qualifies for that label.
johnyuan
I don’t know what the work-rule is for journalists if they could invite anyone to a meal for an interview. If it is alright, return the professor with a dinner. Make sure order no Caesar salad. I am most anxious to hear from you again what you will this time. Not to say I am not that uncertain if the professor isn’t a sensible man in your last meeting.
hard times !
this johnwe has never got any right views at all since he just cannot express himself well in English and has no constructive arguments to present here in this Comment column.May God help him to improve his logical thinking and brush up his English plus enrich his knowledge in Politics ABC.amen.
hard times !
of course, this Alex Tai has never held any respect of professor Tai who co-organizes the planned 'Occupy Central' which might have over 10,000 Hong kong residents gather at Central to block the traffic there in July,2014.His lunch with Tai is really a surprise to many of Alex' readers (including this Old Hong Kong who firmly supports demcoracy in town and a universal suffrage in 2017) who choose to believe Alex does not agree to the movement and despises upon it too. Their lunch might probably be the only one and the last one as well. since their views towards the Red China government and local democracy is so far apart, a bit like Arctic with Equator !
 
 
 
 
 

Login

SCMP.com Account

or