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  • Dec 23, 2014
  • Updated: 10:44am
My Take
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 07 May, 2014, 3:37am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 May, 2014, 5:36am

Occupy Central referendum won't represent Hong Kong's electorate

Occupy Central was originally designed to be an exercise in radical democracy.

Through a series of "deliberation" meetings, people would design and vote on their own democratic models from the ground up, the most popular of which would be chosen by the people to be the official position of the pro-democracy movement. So far, so good - on paper.

Unfortunately, idealism flounders on the rocks of reality. Academics like Dr Benny Tai Yiu-ting and Dr Chan Kin-man read about such experiments in foreign books and decided to use us all as guinea pigs in a political experiment. It turns out it is just an exercise in self-selection, confirmation bias and the silencing of rivals.

However the so-called referendum turns out next month, the outcome is no different or any more democratically representative than if Tai and his supporters just come out and demand public nomination as their be-all and end-all position.

Occupy hired a group of so-called international experts to filter out practically all election reform proposals that supposedly failed to meet international standards, presumably as stated in the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

But while any reform proposal that has any realistic hope of gaining passage in the legislature must include some elements in those rejected proposals as stipulated by Beijing, Tai and Company effectively make sure only pan-democratic proposals get an airing.

Next, out of the 15 mostly pan-democratic proposals already pre-selected, they had some 2,000 hardcore supporters of Occupy Central yesterday choose three to put forward for their online "referendum" next month. Are these people representative of Hong Kong's 3.5 million electorate or just an extremely small, self-selecting sample group that constitutes the most extreme and uncompromising elements within the pan-democratic camp?

After next month, there is no doubt Tai and Chan will claim the proposal they now endorse has all the legitimacy it needs as if it were chosen in a real referendum. But they would be wrong. Not only that, but misguided as only ivory-tower scholars who try to play real politics can be.

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Dai Muff
Democracy where the grass roots vote on the democratic process. How unbelievably "radical".
It will be more representative than the election that chose our current CE, or ANY of our functional constituency legislators. But don't let that put you off. And I love how pro-Beijing commenters like to throw "foreign" as a demeaning term, when the entire political system of China took its strength from Marx, who wrote in London, and other Russian communist movement leaders.
And I love your weasel words: "SO-CALLED international experts", "SUPPOSEDLY failed", and "PRESUMABLY as stated". Really on a roll there.
The government and pro-Beijing stance has been to offer NO concessions and no moves towards a middle ground. So if the discussion is one-sided it's because one side has not yet been told how much it can compromise.
ubifrancehk
Oh my god, they took their ideas in "foreign books" ! The whole process is open and transparent (which is far from being the case everywhere). They do not own any media to silence opposition. If the whole process has become so political and conservatives like you fear to participate, just blame yourself for all the mud you've been throwing on them in the past few weeks.
dienw
And of course the CCP didn't get its ideology (and current policies) from foreign books!!!
impala
"Are these people representative of Hong Kong's 3.5 million electorate or just an extremely small, self-selecting sample group that constitutes the most extreme and uncompromising elements within the pan-democratic camp?"

If you take out the word "pan-democratic" and replace it with DAB you have arrived at the heart of the problem with Hong Kong's government since pretty much 1997. And for all the flaws that the pan-dem's proposals may have, I have not yet seen any proposal from the anti-democratic camp that would solve this problem.

Everything the DAB and other let's-become-the-mainland forces have put on the table so far shares one common characteristic: it ensures the continuation of rule by self-selecting kleptocrats who serve big business interest and their masters in Beijing well, but from the general public and overall welfare perspective do nothing but creating one policy failure after another.
321manu
Mr. Lo must be going through writer's block or an ebb in inspiration, cuz this piece is nearly identical to his "Let voters decide...".
First off, are these "so-called" experts, or are they just experts? I agree their qualifications as "experts" should be individually and collectively judged. I wonder if their bona fides are listed somewhere.
But second, if their mandate is to screen for proposals that are consistent with the ICCPR, it's hardly their problem if the proposals they review don't meet the requisite standards. Don't blame the people who label proposals as stupid; blame those who came up with the stupid proposals themselves (not surprisingly, most of those will be the CCP lackey types...go figure).
Third, their job is not to identify those proposals that have a chance of gaining passage in the legislature. Again, their job is just to apply ICCPR principles and weed out proposals that fail the grade. If, as a result of their screening, eligible proposals stand no chance of passing the legislature, then the problem is with the legislative process, and not with the experts or the proposals themselves. In fact, this would not surprise me one bit. Tai is not gaming the process to benefit pan-dems. You can't blame pan-dems for coming up with democratically sound proposals; blame the CCP goofs for failing to do so.
Lo's only legit beef is with the further screening of 15 down to 3. That part is not on. On everything else, Lo is barking up the wrong tree.
blue
I do not have a problem with the use of unbiased legal experts to come up with proposals that comply with ICCPR. After all, it is required under Article 39 of the Basic Law. Also under Article 26 of the Basic Law, every HK permanent resident has the right to vote and stand for election.

I totally disagree with your implication that HK's political reform package can not comply with the ICCPR if it has any chance of Beijing's approval. To the contrary, Beijing needs to be pushed to fulfill its international obligations under the Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Basic Law.

I do totally agree with you that it's unacceptable for a bunch of radicals to screen out 12 perfectly good political reform proposals that not only complied with the ICCPR, but probably had a decent shot at Beijing's approval. Radicals like Long Hair and People's Power are already pushing hard to ensure that the 3 proposals that Occupy Central will present in its referendum will have public nomination, despite the fact that it violates the Basic Law.
gds1941
Alex Lo or Alex Spin Beijing? Does anyone in power at the moment in Hong Kong represent the city's electorate? Mr Alex has also done his reading of 'foreign books': Lenin on propaganda!
nmp_inc
Really Alex, you need to improve your sub-editing from the Liaison Office press releases: "read about such experiments in foreign books and decided to use us all as guinea pigs in a political experiment." Or, is this one of the first due-outs from the HK media senior executives meeting in Beijing?
hard times !
if what most Hong Kong voters want is a geniune universal suffrage complied with the UN's International Covenant on Rights and Human Rights which stipulates that in a universal suffrage (or a general election), all citizens (qualified voters) should enjoy the right to nominate,to be voted and to vote (and not just the right to cast their ballots as planned by Beijing authorities and our Leung administration), then the planned non-violent civil-disobedience campaign, 'Occupy Central' will definitely take place sooner or later as no public nomination will be allowed by the autocratic ruling regime in Beijing which itself can never tolerate any types of democaritc governance to challenge the rule of the Chinese Communist Party ! It looks the so-called 'Electoral Reform' will fail and 'Occupy Central' will take place no matter its scale is !
John Adams
As I walk about the back streets of the very 'typical' old part of HK where I live, watching people rushing to work, carefully avoiding the old people scrounging recyclable rubbish out of the litter bins, I wonder how on earth any normal voter in HK can understand all these various options for 'universal suffrage'. I certainly can't do so anymore ( or at least I have lost interest in trying to do so ) and I have a university degree*.
.
So I must agree with Mr Lo : the whole Occupy Central movement is a total farce and in no way represents the average man/ woman in the streets.
..
* My university degree is genuine. Meanwhile I saw "Dr" Quat spouting forth on TVB the other night at a televised LEGCO meeting . If LEGCO accepts and condones members with fake university degrees then what is the real value of LEGCO as a think- tank ? ZERO ! They are all political buffoons

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