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  • Apr 18, 2014
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My Take
PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 05 July, 2013, 4:39am

Where were my neighbours on July 1?

BIO

Alex Lo is a senior writer at the South China Morning Post. He writes editorials and the daily “My Take” column on page 2. He also edits the weekly science and technology page in Sunday Morning Post.
 

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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anson
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.
pslhk
We should like to see
how self-styled democrats,
leaders of Demo / Civic, etc parties
respond to AL's opinion which
I believe represents the overwhelming majority
-
No slogan please
-
We mustn't allow public protests of bigots,
those brainwashed by outdated Western ideology
which they in any case misunderstand,
become a part of HK culture
and misrepresent HK
as a city of stupid copycats
unconscious followers
of red / yellow shirts and people's power
Dai Muff
And what are YOU unconsciously following?
XYZ
I attended the march. Maybe I don't live in Mr. Lo's kind of neighborhood.
blue
But you didn't attend the mark to support Snowden. He was a true freedom fighter.
impala
Well then, at least we now have a slightly better idea from which direction the wind blows with Mr Lo: a sheer unconditional nationalism with respect for the CCP that claims to embody the nation, combined with a materialistic opportunism: as long as his bread is buttered (and that of his neighbours), and economic growth is positive, The Party is doing a good job, and basta.

He ideally does want full democracy, less inequality and so on, but it isn't worth agonising The Party for that, since after all they butter our bread. Let's above all not antagonise The Party by our frivolous demands for democracy, fairness, freedom of Article-23 and other details.

For we already have a bunch of things, and no place is perfect anyway. So why bother making it better, or striving for ideals? Don't bite the Beijing hand that feeds you, says Mr Lo. Don't even nibble it, because it may get upset. Instead, sit pretty and do as told. Forget your ideals, forget Hong Kong's unique identity, forget dreams of a better society. After all, other places have their trouble too and we wouldn't want to become Egypt! Shock! Horror! Fear! (the similarities to Republican scaremongering about 'the US will become Greece' are striking).

Needless to say I disagree, but it is good that Mr Lo has spelled out his morally shallow and intensely opportunistic stance loud and clearly.
Dai Muff
And these people who believe in not fighting for anything would almost always be on the first plane out to Canada or the US, with their kids, if or when the you-know-what really hit the fan. Take full advantage of the democracy other people have fought for, while at the same time most likely despising the citizens of their host country.
John Adams
Mr Lo, this is one of your 'pure gold' columns, and I agree with every word you say.
I also did not march on July 1 and I also don't know a single person who did march (seems there were more spectators than marchers, based on what I saw on a brief stroll Monday)
We don't know how lucky we are in HK .
As a lifelong Mainland friend visiting HK on July 1 said : "As long as you don't break the law or behave corruptly, China is a very good and well-governed country to live in . I certainly would never want to live in the USA, and not even in UK or Europe nor any other S.E Asian country. And I certainly would never want to live in any emerging middle eastern democracy like Egypt "
Having worked half my life in China I fully agree with my friend.
I hope you don't get 'hate' mail as a result of what you wrote today because what you wrote today is the truth.
Please accept this 'love' mail in gratitude for your sincerity and willingness to speak the truth
wwong888
you are f-cking sheep... baaaahhh.... you make me sad... you are just a little pragmatic kleptocrat as well... you are right, you actually don't deserve 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.

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