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  • Dec 25, 2014
  • Updated: 5:10am
Occupy Central
CommentInsight & Opinion

Protests in Hong Kong are taking a worrying turn

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 February, 2014, 3:41am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 February, 2014, 5:01am

Protests in Hong Kong are by and large peaceful and orderly affairs. Be it the annual July 1 mass rally or a weekend demonstration by a handful of activists, they are usually staged with self-restraint and discipline. While the causes being championed do not necessarily win cross-sector support in society, they are greeted with respect and tolerance, as long as the protests are carried out within the law.

Regrettably, our fine tradition is being eroded by some radical activists. They keep pushing limits set by the law, disrupt public functions and hijack events staged by others. The latest attack against the Democratic Party is an example. The activists, some of whom affiliated with the radical People Power, stormed the stage when the Democrats formally pledged to participate in Occupy Central, a civil disobedience movement planning to push for universal suffrage by blocking the financial centre. Although the activists also support the controversial campaign to be launched later this year, they are upset that the Democrats brokered what they regarded as an undemocratic reform package with Beijing's liaison office in 2010. They also accused the party of betraying Hong Kong by not demanding that voters be given the right to put forward candidates to stand in the chief executive election in 2017.

This is not the first time politically charged protests have escalated into confrontation. Some Beijing-friendly groups set up with a view to promoting patriotism and stability have also clashed with the rival camp before. While both sides are entitled to their political views, opinions should be expressed in a rational and lawful way. It is worrying that they are increasingly resorting to disorderly actions to make themselves heard.

A campaign seeking to achieve democracy by breaking the law is a breakaway from our tradition of protesting within the law. If the Democrats' swearing-in ceremony is any reference, the Occupy Central campaign is open to abuse by others. It is difficult to see how the organiser can prevent radical forces from hijacking the event and maintain peace and discipline.


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This article is now closed to comments

A Hong Konger
The trend is worrying, but predictable. It has been 17 years since the handover and we are just as far away from democratic reform since it was stripped from us all those years ago. An entire generation has been born and raised without a voice. Can you imagine any other people on this planet having the same, almost saint-like, patience of the Hong Kong people while being spat upon day after day by the SAR government and Beijing? Overseas we see governments fall under the rage of their people, but here we wait with dignified patience. The people of HK deserve medals for their patience, but are told our future lies, in essence, in bowing to Beijing. This is not a point of negotiation for us, the structure we have inherited, without our consent, is not fit for purpose, we are sick of the lies and, like any people, will choose our own future no matter what they tell us. We can hear whispered to each other and in our own minds that this is untenable and for each day that passes the anger rises. One has to be blind not to see the rising volatility and anger of this once peaceful city and one day, unless our leaders show courage and Beijing works with us (both seeming impossibilities), it will boil over into real and sustained antagonism, perhaps even conflict. I take no position, but merely point out the obvious: HK desperately needs alternatives so as to defuse the underlying anger and build a sustainable system of government, not naive chastising of the vanguards of our fury.
Love it when they don't post the editor's name(s). I doubt all SCMP staff agree with this particular opinion.
So, the SCMP believes that '[harmony]* and discipline' are the major objectives of our society? Not fairness, accountability of our leaders, or a dynamic, pluralistic place to live? That sounds worryingly like "One country, one-and-a-little-bit systems".
The 'fine tradition' that is being eroded is the very freedom to 'keep pushing [the] limits' that you criticise. In the past, the only constraint on Hongkongers was the size of their dreams. Now, it feels increasingly as though our own government is pursuing agendas other than our wellbeing.
Under our lopsided governance, we have a secretive, unelected government and intransigent bureaucracy, but freedom of speech, assembly and the press. So people use the tools at their disposal.
While I don't personally agree with People Power's petty and divisive position, their methods are measured and non-violent, designed to gently wobble the ship of state, which Beijing and this paper want to imagine floats in a sea without waves.
....... * ['peace' clearly here means 'harmony' of the kind demanded by the CCP, not the opposite of war, which is a threat we don't face]
Dai Muff
Why not? When our police turn a blind eye to the bullying of "Caring Hong Kong" and the anti-Falun Gong thugs, and I have witnessed them do it, what else do you expect?
Aha, a teacher supporter. Or the teacher herself?
This is one key difference between Western and Eastern concept of Peace. The eastern concept of peace builds on mutual understanding and constrains, whereas the western concept of peace builds on threat. For example, in the United States, a "Peacekeeper" is a continental nuclear missile the can carry up to 10 warheads, capable of destroying 250 Hiroshima in less than 30 seconds.
What do you expect from radicals and extremists?
You are wrong. HK never had democracy nor did HKner had have a voice. The UK government never allowed any HKner participate in politics nor did the UK Government allowed any Hkner to vote. If you were refering to the "Patten unbaked democratic reform" (a farce) at the eve of the handover, that was more a comedian theater than a serious approach to give HKners democracy, a vote and a voice. And why only in the last few years before the handover and not decades before? Patten, as the last Governeur, just played a practical joke on Hongkong before returning it to China.
Fact is, we do have now more rights, more political participation and a vote than before when we were under British dictatorship.


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