• Thu
  • Aug 28, 2014
  • Updated: 12:08am
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 August, 2013, 2:31am

How Hong Kong's democracy battle has been reduced to a laughing stock

Michael Chugani says some democracy activists in Hong Kong have reduced what should be a noble cause to a laughing stock


Michael Chugani is a Hong Kong-born American citizen who has worked for many years as a journalist in Hong Kong, the USA and London. Aside from being a South China Morning Post columnist he also hosts ATV’s Newsline show, a radio show and writes for two Chinese-language publications. He has published a number of books on politics which contain English and Chinese versions.

Compare the way our democracy battle was fought back in the days of Martin Lee Chu-ming and the late Szeto Wah to how it is being fought now. Back then, it came across as a noble goal with popular backing. And now? Clownish is a good way to describe it.

Think of modern-day democracy struggles and Aung San Suu Kyi springs to mind. One woman who faced impossible odds against Myanmar's military dictators. The stoical way she pursued her cause earned her international admiration.

Don't expect international admiration for the way we are conducting our fight for democracy. There is nothing stoical about hurling bananas and obscenities at government officials. Other than the annual June 4 vigil and the July 1 march, little else portrays our pursuit of democracy as dignified. The struggle for democracy is supposed to unite the people against those who deny it to them. But ours divides more than unites the people.

Unlike most democracy struggles, ours has never been defined by imprisonments, torture or house arrests. The fear of such repression quickly receded when Beijing kept its end of the handover bargain. We should be thankful our democracy leaders do not have to negotiate with their adversaries from behind prison bars. They negotiate at lunches and dinners, as we saw when democracy leaders had face-to-face sit-downs with the liaison office director Zhang Xiaoming at the Legislative Council and Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying at Government House.

They are free to express their views in the media and through loudhailers at street protests without fear of arrest. Yet our democracy leaders are allowing the pursuit of their goal to be defined by divisions, vendettas, childish theatrics and weak leadership.

We have now reached a point where our more radical democracy leaders equate the pursuit of democracy with the downfall of C.Y. Leung. Surely, they must understand that even if Leung falls tomorrow, democracy will not magically take over. On the contrary, agitating for his removal would further unsettle mainland leaders who are already jittery over the direction of our democracy debate. The more spooked they become, the higher the chances they would either delay or downgrade the kind of democracy we end up with.

Yet some are using the cause to fuel the perception that Leung is a failed leader with a corrupt team and should go. The jury is still out on whether Development Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po and Leung confidant Barry Cheung Chun-yuen corruptly used their high positions. The perception that Franklin Lam Fan-keung had abused his position as an executive councillor had already stuck by the time the Independent Commission Against Corruption cleared him of wrongdoing, thereby killing his political career.

In our warped quest for democracy, we are now even questioning the right of a retiring policeman to free speech just because he had supported his former colleagues at a rally. We have allowed perception to hijack reality. That makes our struggle for democracy anything but noble.

Michael Chugani is a columnist and TV show host. mickchug@gmail.com


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This article is now closed to comments

"Clownish is a good way to describe it."
Well said! Thank you for raising the voice of the majority of Hong Kong.
"One Person One Vote" is a noble cause, it is a pity that such a noble cause is being spoiled by a few clowns.
the sun also rises
anything but noble
our struggle for democracy ?
our leaders nowadays have
no noble causes as the days
of Martin Lee or Szeto Wah !
Yet how about the movement
of the three organisers of the
'Occupy Central ' Movement
to be put into practice next July
in our financial district
Central ? ----when roads
will be blocked by thousands
of protesters who yearn for
a geniune universal suffrage ?
their cause is noble----'one person, one vote'
in the election of the
chief executive in town
who will be truly
responsible to his/her voters
who are allowed to vote
for any qualified candidates
who will not be filtered out
beforehand !
is the pursuit of such a
universal suffrage,a noble cause ?
then Professors Tai & Chan
plus old priest, Chu Yiu-ming
will become our spiritual
leaders in our pursuit to
a noble democracy
envied by the world !
I’m flattered by those whose personal interest in me
seems more intensive than girlfriends in my handsome youth
But such interest is misplaced
Please focus on my comments
(1) What’s “upper crust wanna be”?
I supposed there shouldn’t be any lower crust wanna be
and believe that my crust’s already quite high
The only crust that interests me is intellectual
For ethnic flavor my selection is Chinese
British isn't my flavor, too soapy for my taste
(2) Who’d want the kind of passport
that a country issues to foreigners?
(3) Run away from CCP?
I went to work in China when
Shenzhen and Putong were entirely rustic
like Richmond (BC) and Nut Tree (CA) then
The progress all these years has been most impressive
Why would I run away from CCP?
Excuse me...popular rule did not destroy Russia, Germany, or China. On the contrary, Dictatorship is what destroyed those countries. People shouldn't fear their governments, governments should fear their people.
'Containable'? I hope so. The police couldn't control a single teacher babbling on in the street.
Add to your list of countries destroyed by their popular movements: the French Revolution and the ensuing massacres of thousands, not just the royalty.
Historically, populism wreaked havoc on, amongst others, Russia, Germany and China (during the so-called Cultural Revolution in particular). We are witnessing it here and now, in Hong Kong.
When mob rule is reality, I will only be glad Hong Kong is tiny and any situation should be containable...
The mobs deserve the leaders they got
Chan Fong Eu Mo Leung Tai Wong
culturally no better than F4 scholars and 3-point school leavers,
allies of the same democrazy colors but waving separate banners
Thank god for atheist CCP
which has learnt how to handle demo crazy Red Guards
The probation period is over
There is nothing constructive and original with Democrazy copycats
who knows no better than aping the west
preaching second-hand dreams
though the originals are turning into nightmares
Order and law is our priority
Police renaissance bodes well for an auspicious start
Do you need $0.50 cents?
He just babbles his pompous, British upper crust wanna-be drivel in favor of good old Maoist times because of his self loathing, foreign passport holding and ability to run elsewhere should his beloved CCP actually slam down on HK one day.
Put it in the charity box at the cashier
should be appreciated like the widow’s giving


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