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  • Dec 29, 2014
  • Updated: 4:29pm
Universal Suffrage
CommentInsight & Opinion

Ease tensions now over universal suffrage

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 June, 2013, 1:26am

There is growing unease as the battle lines over universal suffrage are being drawn. A further step towards a controversial civil-disobedience campaign was taken when hundreds of its supporters gathered to discuss their plans. This prompted a stern warning from Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, who said the move could in no way be peaceful or lawful. There was even a suggestion that participants should be prepared for bloodshed similar to that seen on Tiananmen Square in 1989.

It remains unclear whether the campaign's organisers believe this would be the worst-case scenario or whether they are just talking tough in the hope of attracting more hardliners. Leung may also think he has to toe a strong line to demonstrate leadership, despite concerns that it may backfire. Whatever their intention, the remarks have fuelled concerns that an ugly showdown is inevitable. It is disturbing that both sides are raising the stakes rather than seeking a compromise. The rhetoric does nothing to defuse the political tension.

The aspirations of a mass campaign to push for genuine universal suffrage in 2017 cannot be faulted, especially when the debate is clouded with talks of a possible mechanism to screen out candidates opposed by Beijing. But it has to ask whether civil disobedience is justified. With the government still reluctant to launch a public consultation on the electoral arrangements, the "Occupy Central with Love and Peace" campaign seeks to fill the gap by engaging the community to work out an acceptable package. But what is worrying is the ultimate plan to paralyse the business district with a 10,000-strong crowd. Although the participants are required not to resist police trying to remove them, it is difficult to see how violence can be avoided. Breaking the law and disrupting lives to achieve one's goal are hardly acceptable to the majority of people in Hong Kong. Such an approach does not conform to the city's tradition of staging protests in a peaceful way.

Hongkongers deserve genuine universal suffrage. But it can be achieved only through dialogue and compromise rather than confrontation. Regrettably, there is a growing danger of the stakeholders drifting further apart. The organisers have offered to call off the blockade should the final electoral proposals conform to international standards. Leung should have the courage to defuse the tension by releasing proposals for public consultation as early as possible.


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This article is now closed to comments

@"Hongkongers deserve genuine universal suffrage."
There is no such thing as "GENUINE" universal suffrage. How many more exposes like the Snowden affair do pan-democrats need to witness before learning that parliamentary or congressional style democracy is corrupted, manipulated and rigged by those who wish to cling onto power. It has failed in Africa, South America and more recently in the Middle East, where there has been horrendous loss of life because of Western attempts to impose 'democracy' on previously safe and stable nations. It is also now failing much of Europe, where almost half of the youth remain unemployed or under employed. Look before you leap.
I agree with captam. The USA has what the pan-democrats would consider a fake democracy. The NSA spying program was launched under the Republican Bush administration. When Obama was running for President, he promised that his government who shut such programs down and by more transparent. As soon as Obama won the election, he immediately broke all of his campaign promises and expanded the NSA spying program even further.

As you can see. Whether or not the American people elect a Republican or a Democrat, nothing really changes. Each US presidential election is merely a legitimacy exercise. It helps create legitimacy without actually giving the people voting for politicians any real power (aside from voting a politician out of office, only to be replaced with someone just as bad) nor insight on how government actually functions.

Naturally I am quite cynical of the pan-democrats because in the past they naively though that the USA government can do no wrong. At least now people on both sides of the political spectrum have a reality check.


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