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  • Dec 26, 2014
  • Updated: 12:44am
My Take
PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 05 July, 2013, 4:39am

Where were my neighbours on July 1?

If those who joined the July 1 march represent Hong Kong's majority, then where are those people in my neighbourhood? Statistically, the odds must be good for me to come across one or more protesters. I ran up and down the road to ask my neighbours this week if they took part on Monday and couldn't find a single one. Maybe they just didn't want people to know about their involvement, but I seriously doubt that.

From my highly unscientific and partisan survey, I conclude that there is the real quiet majority, people who have no time for politics or protest because they are not upset or don't care enough. Sure, I think most Hongkongers like me and my neighbours want full democracy, clean and efficient government and a fairer society. But most of us realise we already live in a free and safe city, with a relatively efficient civil service. Yes, it's a semi-democratic society full of defects and problems, but then what society isn't?

Many of us also don't want to antagonise or confront the central government. This may be for purely pragmatic reasons, but not a few of us may have patriotic respect for Beijing for what it has achieved in a generation by making the country, while not rich, at least not terribly poor like it was. We - like the vast majority of citizens on the mainland and most governments around the world - accept the central government as the legitimate government of China. And we believe it's better to work with Beijing in good faith to bring about full democracy than confronting it at every turn and denouncing mainland officials at every opportunity.

Such reasonable beliefs are not so hard to understand. But our anti-Beijing crowd insists on not understanding them, or ignoring and suppressing them, because they are at variance with their self-righteous and ideology-driven narrative. By definition, we may be in the majority but we don't make enough noise and attract attention. I respect people's right to protest, but I resent being presented with false choices - democracy good, Beijing evil - as if we were facing an existential moral crisis.

Like most ordinary people, I don't get invited to spring receptions with mainland honchos and local ministers. But if there is an occasion where a mainland official is present and wants to shake everyone's hand, I would certainly shake his as a respectful gesture. If my children tried to join those HKU or Scholarism under-aged protesters, I would ground them for a week and cut their allowances for a month. When the national anthem is played at a public event, I expect them to stand up.

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This article is now closed to comments

whymak
Generally, I find the pro-democracy readers in Mr. Lo’s column dumber than pro-China ones. They often regurgitate blindly white men’s mantra about choice, freedom, etc. without proposing a single original, useful idea. Here is an election format that helps derive more information about winners and losers.
In a plain vanilla election between two candidates, one votes for either A or B, characterized by a duple value: (1,0) or (0,1). There is only one unit of information in this election format. However, if we include a vote against a candidate with a -1 value, we have now 6 choices: (1,0), (0,1), (-1,0), (0,-1), (-1,-1), (1,1). (1,-1) and (-1,1) are not allowed because it would amount to casting a net difference of 2 votes.
All of a sudden, a ballot yields 2.58 units of information (log 6 to base 2).
Voters will now get an important piece of information hitherto denied them – the issue of mandate.
Suppose out of 1.5 million votes cast, instead of a CE candidate winning by 755,000 votes, he has a net of only 100,000 when negative numbers are tallied. What kind of mandate is that for a city of 7 million?
Western Democracy theology will spin all kinds of objections against this better electoral system. That’s a given. If this system is implemented with poor choice of candidates, election will soon become toast.
Will Hong Kong be the trail blazer of this more informative election system? Don’t hold your breath on this one.
impala
Ah it was only a matter of time wasn't it. Comrade whymak returns with make-up mathematics that bear no connection to reality whatsoever.

So, continue to shine your enlightening vision please. How much information does the current system of CE selection capture? What kind of mandate for a city of 7 million is a largely pre-determined vote by a self-selecting group of 1,200 kleptocrats?
tennisboy
You look at the above photo and you see a bunch of teenagers holding colonial flags. I am sure they are missing the "good ole days" of British rule when they were in their diapers and feeding on mommy's milk.
johnyuan
Don’t be that sure your neighbors are quiet majority. The habit of staying away from limelight doesn’t prevent one still engages in the protest through social media. In fact, I think taking to the streets is a passé. Who knows who my neighbor really is; the alias in the comments may be your neighbor who has been writing you all those hate letters. You are a fish in a fish bowl a condition which comes with your job.
wwong888
alex - how much is the HK Liason Office of the CPP paying you on the side? or did they promise you a deputy editor position at the Global Times once the Kuok's shut down this sad publication... I propose we replace your column with a link to biglychee.com
Dai Muff
Didn't I read this in the Global Times yesterday?
Never mind Mr Lo, at least you are not even pretending to be sitting on that fence any more.
whymak
Mr. Lo, I can say the same about my family and friends. A few young ones may be reticent with their anti-mainlander bias before us elders, but not to be point of making fools of themselves as mindless slogan chanting demonstrators. Staying gainfully employed and educating the next generation are still Hong Kong responsible citizens' major concerns.
Having a poor opinion of HKSAR politicians or condemning their incompetence is one thing, but actively trying to subvert order in the hope of gaining political power in anarchy is now the goal of charlatans and their brainwashed hordes.
Just look at the intransigence of both the majority and minority in Egypt, Thailand, Turkey, etc. They all want universal suffrage. After a majority government is elected, the minority will find every means to overthrow it with endless street demonstrations. Many HK July 1 demonstrators will likely sing the same tune. Maybe they really have a death wish - blood in the streets.
Now sit back and enjoy your hate mail.
Dai Muff
"regurgitate blindly white men’s mantra" What a nasty little racist comment? Not a DAB member by any chance are you?
mh0908
I read you column this morning and I just want to tell you I agree. Thanks Alex!
mymak
Under any system there are only going to be a few with true power. The power to get things done their way and quickly. A democratic system is no different from any other, with the exception that once every few years the population gets to vent its frustrations or signal its approval through the ballot box. The problem in Hong Kong is that the focus is on the system of choosing the select few to run the city and not on forming a vision of an ideal society, i.e. should there be universal welfare, should there be low taxes, free education, etc?
Hong Kong people would do well to look at other countries that do and don't have democracy to see how the status quo rules.
In both the UK and the US, the Conservatives and Labour, the Democrats and the Republicans, electing one party or the other does not lead to any great changes. This is often reflected in quite low voter turnout. In Australia of course, real voter apathy is reflected in a law that makes it compulsory to vote in a general election. Australia does not even give its citizens the real democracy of choosing not to vote.
The majority of people in these countries and the majority of Hong Kong people are wise enough to understand that power will always remain in the hands of a select few, who whether elected by all or chosen by a few will do exactly what they want. The majority here are no different from the majority overseas in just not getting involved.

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