• Sat
  • Dec 27, 2014
  • Updated: 10:40am
My Take
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 August, 2013, 2:31pm

Benny Tai is not evil, just misguided

Benny Tai Yiu-ting has been called many names. The latest by Robert Chow Yung of Silent Majority for Hong Kong, a sort of anti-Occupy Central group, is that his plan for civil disobedience is "evil". That's just silly. The problem is not that Tai is evil. He is perfectly sincere and is campaigning in good faith. That's precisely what makes his plan threatening, misguided and likely to spin out of control.

Over lunch early this summer, Tai told me someone called him "poisonous" and he agreed. Now the Chinese word for that has a slightly different connotation than English. It could mean someone who is cunning, with a hidden plan or agenda. Tai admitted to that. What he means is that his plan has forced people to choose sides and face their conscience.

To understand what Tai, a legal scholar, is trying to do, you have to look at his religion and his scholarship. Like Martin Luther King whom he admires and emulates, he is a committed Christian. It's no accident that he announced details of his Occupy Central plan in a church, with his pastor by his side.

He is also basing the other part of his campaign - to come up with a universal suffrage plan by mass participation during what he calls "deliberation day(s)" - on the work of US legal scholar Bruce Ackerman and James Fishkin, a social scientist. He is driven by his religious faith and is trying to force social and legal theory he reads about against the realities of Hong Kong. In fact, he described his campaign to me as a kind of social engineering experiment.

To Tai, his call to "occupy Central with love and hope" is probably being likened to King's march on the Lincoln Memorial in which he delivered his famous "I have a dream" speech. The problem is that racial segregation was a real system of injustice, a blot on the US Constitution. Every great struggle for freedom and democracy requires extraordinary oppression to fight against. We just don't have that narrative in Hong Kong, as hard as the pan-democrats have tried to create one. Our city has been and remains one of the world's richest, safest and freest, despite or because of its semi-democratic system.

Democracy is a means. The nitty gritty stuff such as the dispute over who and how many people should make up the election committee doesn't interest voters. Instead, Tai and other pan-dems should study how successful election campaigns are actually run in functioning democracies. They should inspire voters with how they plan to make Hong Kong a great place - in education, healthcare, clean air etc - to gain their support.

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Dai Muff
What you were asked is why you pretend to care about the views of the silent majority when it suits you but then a few sentences later criticise the silent majority (only in Hong Kong and the PRC) as being too stupid to vote. And you still duck the question.
By the way, ad hominem argument, whether about Churchill or those debating with you is considered rather poor logical debate, even to Form 5 students. Argument from authority is pretty weak too.
And your line about demonising HK and China is getting tired. I have said elsewhere that I feel Tsang Yok-sing would be a better CE than many of the democrats. And if he were voted in he would have an unarguable public mandate. So your rather silly formulae do not work very well.
honkiepanky
You forgot "minus a lawful means for settling political conflicts"
Dai Muff
Strange. I haven't seen "Occupy Central" hiring any triad supporters.
hard times !
agree with Alex Lo that our respectful Professor Tai Yiu-ting is both sincere in his peaceful civil-disobedience,'Occupy Central' Movement which is only the last resort to turn to when a geniune universal suffrage (according to the UN's International Covenent of Human Rights and Privileges) is not granted/allowed to us by Beijing in 2017 and he is never evil but is indeed campaigning in good faith.He is a true Christian indeed since he observes the spirit of Jesus Christ who sacrificed himself for his belief and ideal for the people-------never for self-interest of course ! If Professor Tai is not a scholar, how about the guy below named,'whymak' who used to severely oppose ' Occupy Central' ever since the Movement was raised ? I wonder.
whymak
Tai Yiu Ting is neither a scholar nor a Christian in the 21st Century sense of those words. He is an airhead Jesus freak who worships the Democracy Cult.
Chinese and religious folks in Western societies are similar in many ways. They value survival, prosperity over dogmas and myths.
Growing up in different cultures imposes bias in lifestyles, diet, rituals, and not the least, methods of governance.
Though some deny their Chinese identity, we value harmony in conflict resolution. Anglos prefer confrontational, adversarial advocacy. Which way is better? It depends on the situation.
When you say your God is the only true one, or one-man-one-vote is the only way to produce effective government, everything you say becomes a non sequitur.
There are always conflicting interests in every issue. The only way to resolve them is stating first objectively an objective function and go about optimizing it. No government could satisfy each and everyone’s whims with the best method and effort in problem solving, and there is no excuse for a discontented few to seek its destruction by open rebellion.
Every voter left to her devices has a different agenda. What can a simpleton’s one-man-one-vote scheme achieve?
HK high schoolers know no current exists in a conductor without an EMF. In other words, randomized electrons perform no useful work.
Likewise, Democracy cultists without engines – policy making organs, bureaucracies, institutions – are just vacuous sound and fury.
SpeakFreely
I like that "They should inspire voters with how they plan to make Hong Kong a great place - in education, healthcare, clean air etc - to gain their support."
I think the pan dem are mostly middle class not worrying about property, education, healthcare as they all could afford to pay for it. That's why they want to go for the "democracy" as their focus. That also shows most Hk people are too compacent about what we are as as most of the middle class has a home that worth million, a well paid job, low tax and cheap labour of $30 per hours they can exploit. They are not hungry! That's why their focus are not on the necessities.
mcheung
If I recall correctly, Mr. Tung tried to build more affordable housing for the not so rich HK citizens, and when the Asian Financial Crisis and SARS hit, the wealthy, the speculators, and even the middle class were screaming about negative equity. This, along with the Americans QE, and other factors, lead to the widening wealth gaps, cage homes and all sorts of livelihood issues facing the current administration. "Rome was not built in a day", it'll take time to correct all these deep rooted problems.
pslhk
How to realistically measure competence of leaders?
How competent were Ford, Carter, Bush, Regan ... etc?
The way I look at post reunion HK
I'd rather agree with D Brooks
that we have followers problem
and not leadership problem
honkiepanky
@ "Every great struggle for freedom and democracy requires extraordinary oppression to fight against. We just don't have that narrative in Hong Kong"
I'm sorry Alex, but if you don't see the the mind-boggling inequities of the current political system, then you are not paying attention. Telling subdivided flat-dwellers and other victims of the system that "our city has been and remains one of the world's richest, safest and freest" is like telling blacks in mid-20th-century America that hey, at least you don't live in Africa.
johnh
@whymak: You seem to keep equating Democracy with Western rear kissing. Democracy is an idea, not a race. Although...it is for strong men. The countries where democracy fails is where weak men are abundant.

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