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  • Apr 16, 2014
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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.



This article is now closed to comments

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.
So much strawmen...... I don't think anyone actually claimed or one-man-one-vote is the only way to produce effective government - like Winston Churchill said once, “Democracy is the worst form of government, EXCEPT FOR ALL THE OTHERS.”
Isn't your quote a strawman? Read my comments to another reader above.
Churchill: “I do not agree that the dog in a manger has the final right to the manger even though he may have lain there for a very long time. I do not admit that right. I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place.” (To the Peel Commission 1937)
I fully understand some dislike "me" because of my comments
I've heard enough threats about beating me up
and suggestions that I should kill myself
But the facts remain as I've disclosed or reasoned
with or without me
Challenge my facts and reasons if you could.
pslhk: refer to my "comprehensive" response above.
Dai Muff
More blind insult.
Yes, reciprocating insults is both fun and intent.
Dai Muff
You'll have to do better than that. You simply demean your own debating points. Rather surprising for someone who claims to have taught you have not quite grasped the weakness of the ad hominem strategy.
"Mr. Tai is a good man if I were him I would punch Mr. Chow out of the stage"
" ... slit your wrists"
Physically weak and spiritually coward
they can't face the triads they carp about
expressing their imagined physical power in this discussion forum
Tantum religio potuit suadere malorum
such is the evil that can be brought about by religion
e.g., occupy supporters blatant prone to violence
vs occupiers' advertised peaceful demonstration
e.g., hypocrisy and lack of self-understanding
How can Mr. Chow judge the other people as "Evil". It is a low class comment. Mr. Tai is a good man if I were him I would punch Mr. Chow out of the stage. Please look at the core reason why Mr. Tai to do "Occupy Central " plan.



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