• Tue
  • Dec 23, 2014
  • Updated: 12:28pm
My Take
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 November, 2013, 4:21am
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 November, 2013, 12:22pm

A rebellious '60s moment of our own

We are having our own anti-establishment '60s moment. It all started with the massive rally against the anti-sedition Article 23 in 2003.

The traditional social, business and institutional pillars that have sustained Hong Kong and characterised its society are being challenged and criticised like never before. The call for full democracy is only the most obvious example of these seismic changes that are shaking up life as we know it here.

Monopolies, duopolies and cartels have been the main features of our economy for as long as I can remember. Once they were seen as the natural order of things; no longer. The scheme of control that underpins the staggering profits of the power companies; the duopoly of the supermarket chains; the monopolistic dominance of free television, and above all, the pervasive influence and power of the property tycoons - all these are being questioned.

The police and the Independent Commission Against Corruption used to enjoy unquestioned public support. Not anymore. Officers now routinely face accusations of political bias in their handling of protesters. The ICAC, which has until now been our most trusted law enforcement agency, has had its rock solid reputation seriously dented by the profligate spending of its previous commissioner Timothy Tong Hin-ming on entertainment.

The heads of universities used to be Olympian figures above reproach. Now they are regular targets of student leaders and activists. In a recent book, former Central Policy Unit chief Lau Siu-kai argues a recurrent problem of the post-handover government has been its inability to establish the legitimacy of its rule among the public. I would go further. The short political history of the SAR has been characterised by the systematic delegitimising of the government.

As a refugee society, prosperity and stability have long been the primary goals of everyone from different strata of society. Our leaders in Hong Kong and the mainland still share those goals. But if prosperity is seen as benefiting only the top 10 per cent, there can be no stability without social justice.

As the curse goes, we live in interesting times. Can someone bring on the sex, drugs and rock 'n roll? That would be more fun.


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This article is now closed to comments

Lack of democracy isn't the sole reason the administration has no legitimacy in the eyes of the people, it is that the political and economic systems are rigged and crooked. Unless HK can ensure real integrity in its governance, the situation will become worse.
And what's wrong with questioning the establishment? It's usually a healthy process.
Those who remember the 60's are probably in their 60's, and it's a demographic that tends to prefer the status quo over change. It's no wonder that Mr. Lo's sympathies seem to be with the establishment, and that he perhaps casts a forlorn gaze at those who might choose to rock the boat.
But this appears also to be a new reality. Concerns about social disparity and resentment towards one-percenters are all the rage these days. Perhaps it's just a fad and will go the way of bell-bottoms. But perhaps it will herald a change towards heightened awareness about transparency and more demands about accountability. We shall see if the HK political system evolves along those lines and aligns itself with those principles. i sure hope so.
"Time has come for (Iraq/Egypt) to become a city(country) that allows universal sufferage and (Iraqi/ Egyptian) people are ready. Let it happen and we will see harmony and indeed a bright new chapter for (Iraq/Egypt) and (the Middle East) as well. "
What is happening to Iraq and Egypt now?
HK needs to change for the better. But in an orderly and sustained way. Not influenced by outsiders, nor dictated by private political agendas to benefit yet another group of people, nor by threats to bring it to a standstill. Otherwise, it will retrogress to pre 1997. Not just law and order, but the democracy process too.
The pan dems battle cry for universal suffrage is meaningless. The CX junkets and their siding witht he govt when it suits them show where their priorities lie. Things will not change in HK if they are in power.
Having seen the many peaceful and well-restrained street demonstrations in Hong Kong, can we really believe that Hong Kong is similar to Iraq and Egypt? Look at the people around ourselves. Can we really believe that these are people that will blindly follow some imflammatory propaganda and start trashing Hong Kong, a home that they so dearly love? Suppose we walk up to these people and look them in the eyes. What can we tell them in good conscience and fairness that they don't deserve to elect their Chief Executive? Trust the people of Hong Kong. You won't regret it.
I wish I could be full of optimism and hope for Hong Kong. The current governing model is not working! Our government hasn't got the mandate to rule (well, you can say that Beijing has given it the mandate). Senior government officials are scared of irritating the well-connected and almighty tycoons. They are also afraid of doing things that may displease the Beijing government and its complicated network of families and close friends who have numerous 'interests' in HK. The ordinary public like me feel helpless and suffocated - honestly, there is no way out. Are we so naive to think that democracy under Beijing's 'guidance' or any current opposition strategies will work? Do we really think our lives and well-being are worth anything in the eyes of the Chinese government? I am a pessimist...
"Life as we know it" must continue to advance with time. In the earlier days of Hong Kong, men were allowed to have more than one wife. "Life as we know it" changed after the passing of the Marriage Act in 1971, and I dare say, to the satisfaction of most Hong Kong people. History shows us that we must not hold on to "life as we know it" but bravely strive forward so we many know an even better life. The tremendous amount of internal stress currently found in Hong Kong is precisely due to the attempt of those in power to stop Hong Kong from changing its political system as prescribed in the Basic Law. Time has come for Hong Kong to become a city that allows universal sufferage and Hong Kong people are ready. Let it happen and we will see harmony and indeed a bright new chapter for Hong Kong and China as well.
@ honger - so you contend that we aren't capable of electing our own mayor? because it didn't work out in egypt or iraq? we need to install a government with legitimacy (derived from the popular vote) in an "orderly and sustained" way? what the heck does that mean? man, you are as dumb as a brick.
As HKSpeaks suggests, the comparison of HK to Iraq or Egypt is ill-informed. It's comparing apples and oranges. Consider the differences in socioeconomics, education, rule of law, and judicial independence. Then further consider the absence of religious fundamentalism. For dessert, gaze upon the lack of a politicized military. The situations are incomparable, and the fear-mongering does not pass the logic test.
There is a difference between the two 60s anti-establishments. The former one was against a ruler who had nothing to do with local election – there was none. The governor came straightly from Britain. The latter ruler comes from a small nomination group made up with locals.
That a potential ruler initiated from the local is the main cause of the second 60s anti-establishment.
The process and the result of a ruler are short-circuited largely by the power of local establishment. When things deteriorate from the colonial time, people of the rest of Hong Kong become so much vocal targeting legitimately the establishment who looks ONLY after its own interests by being the gatekeeper in picking of a chief to run Hong Kong. The people feel that they shouldn’t be excluded by their own fellows from the society at all levels.
Hence people can’t accept that their own fellows are with success exclusively while the future holds bleak for the rest. But the refugee culture is still quite alive among the older generations belonging to the establishment or not who strongly believe in one’s success all come from within one being intelligent and diligent. The community has nothing to do with it.
The 60s anti-establishment for some, the anti-establishment sentiment is second time around. But not everyone is involved even maybe any of them. Obviously there are those who aren’t the establishment also quite at peace with our time. These are the older folks who saw the first 60s but are now quite set economically for a nice retirement. I suspect among them are the billionaires in Hong Kong accounting for the world’s second largest group. This is a success story but personally.


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