• Tue
  • Sep 23, 2014
  • Updated: 7:46pm
My Take
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 July, 2014, 3:52am
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 July, 2014, 3:52am

Hong Kong pan-democrats must show true leadership

Many pan-democrats draw inspiration from the likes of Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and Aung San Suu Kyi. That may be good for their self-image but it may not be a very good comparison. For one, they don't have to fear the midnight knock on the door that leads to permanent disappearance into the night. In fact, many of them are rather well-paid by the same government they so valiantly oppose and denounce.

They now have the power to completely paralyse the Leung Chun-ying administration and its key policies. Whether that's in the city's best interests is a different question. Rounding on Leung and Co takes as much courage and skill as shooting fish in a barrel. When the real dictatorship is still across the border, we are merely fighting against a weak dysfunctional government that is getting weaker and more discredited by the day. This is precisely why it's a moment for pan-democratic moderates to show courage and leadership. Do the hard stuff, not just the easy denunciations. It's what you go into politics for - to serve the community's long-term interests, not just follow opinion polls.

Perhaps the better historical personages to emulate are Egypt's Anwar Sadat and Ireland's Michael Collins. If a plebiscite were conducted before Sadat made his historical trip to Tel Aviv or before Collins went to London, it would be almost certain that most Arabs would not sue for peace with Israel and most Irish would not accept the partition of their country as the price for independence. By going against their people's wishes, they secured their future - but signed their own death warrant.

Political assassination is not our thing in Hong Kong and I hope it stays that way. But there will come a time soon - like what happened in 2010 - when pan-democratic moderates in the legislature will have to vote for an imperfect democracy or get nothing at all. It will be your job to make the chief executive nominating committee and the future legislature as democratic as possible. But that will still not satisfy many Hong Kong people who prefer permanent confrontation over compromise.

By going against their wishes, you will be roundly denounced. Your vote in Legco may well be a career-ending move. Will you have the courage to be true leaders when the time comes?


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This article is now closed to comments

Please don't compare the pan-democrats to the likes of Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King because that is a disservice to the two honourable gentlemen.
The whole issue is the pan-democrats are anti-CCP. Virtually all founding members of the Democratic Party have actively strived for the change of Chinese political system since the Tiananmen incident in 1989. Most of the pan-democrats are still openly criticize the central government for affairs unrelated to Hong Kong. That is, I think, the cause of the central government being resolutely against the democrats.
I don't think the central government would like to involve extensively in Hong Kong affairs as their prime task is to administer 1.3 billion people, her burden is not light at all. They are honest to let us have a high degree of autonomy. But they certainly won't allow the SAR to be a base for subverting their government. The key for the deadlock is in the hands of the pan-democrats.
It's not hard at all for pan-democrats to set aside their anti-CCP objective and work solely for Hong Kong. I wish we will have a highly autonomous and democratic political system for the time being.
To gunzy,
has there been an actual case where the candidate who won a state did not receive all the electoral college votes for that state (ie some electors went rogue)? I know it's possible in theory in some states...has theory translated to reality in the past? Furthermore, has any such actual incident materially changed the result of the election, so that the candidate who should've won by straight electoral college math ended up not winning?
From wikipedia:
"Faithless electors have not changed the outcome of any presidential election to date. For example, in 2000 elector Barbara Lett-Simmons of Washington, D.C. chose not to vote, rather than voting for Al Gore as she had pledged to do. This was done as an act of protest against Washington, D.C.'s lack of congressional voting representation.[52] That elector's abstention did not change who won that year's presidential election, as George W. Bush received a majority (271) of the electoral votes."
So no it's never happened in practice, but just because a drunk driver hasn't killed anyone before doesn't mean it's not a potential issue.
A drunk driver who hasn't killed anyone before IS a potential issue because we know other drunk drivers HAVE killed people before, and there is no reason to believe one drunk driver to be safer while driving drunk than another.
That's quite different from the scenario you're suggesting, where the possibility of rogue electors changing the net result of an election has NOT happened before.
yes, although my analogy is an over-simplification of the complexity of the the electoral college, the point I was trying to make is that it does not take away the possibility that the electoral college could vote away from the popular vote just because it hasn't happened in the past.
I agree that it's remote and extremely unlikely. The ironic thing is that the United States knows this and does not fix this issue.
There is also the issue of how each state pledges these electoral votes; some are winner takes all, some proportion depending on the votes for the state. There is no consistency.
Why the US doesn't remove this potential constitutional quagmire, i agree, is beyond me. If the scenario ever did occur, it would make hanging chads seem rather quaint by comparison.
Mr. Lo is taking one for the HK gov't/CCP team here. Q2 of referendum gave overwhelming support to pan-dems in legco to vote down any cheesy proposal the HK gov't (at the behest of the CCP) might cobble together if it doesn't pass muster. THe CCP is looking at the very real possibility of being unable to pass any half-baked reform, and thus failing to provide "universal suffrage" that it promised, even in some watered-down and meaningless form. Well, that simply won't do. The CCP can't lose face. So in rides Mr. Lo. "showing leadership", for pan-dems in legco, is to apparently abandon your belief system and principles, and toe the CCP line. That's a rather curious version of the concept.
It's hilarious Lo is likening this to Sadat. Sadat wanted peace, and was willing to compromise on the means in order to achieve the end. He went against public opinion, but not against his principles. By contrast, Lo is asking pan-dems to accept something just so it passes, and not because it's legit or worthy. If by some miracle the HK gov't proposes something that ensures no pre-screening of candidates, but without public nomination, that's one thing. The end is achieved, and I think pan-dems can easily go along. But if the proposal is an elaborate charade to install a CCP stooge, that's asking pan-dems to forego their principles. And Sadat never did that.
As for "showing leadership", how about the HK gov't offer a democratically legit proposal? I know...what a concept!
"These 538 electors are appointed by each state as they see fit, no formal selection criteria beyond the standard "love America" rhetoric."

In reality the electors are elected by all registered voters of the US state they are elected to represent. This is an indirect democracy, and I am highly supportive of it as a way to water down populism rather than screen out candidates of certain political affiliations. That is the fine line that can't be crossed.

On the other hand, the 1200 members of the 2012 Election Committee were elected by only ~250k elite mostly Pro Beijing voters rather than by all 3.5 million HK registered voters.

Do you see the difference now between the electoral base for the US Electoral College that elects the US President and the electoral base for the 2012 Election Committee that elects the Chief Executive?

Only a Nominating Committee that has a electoral base that is either partially or fully elected by all HK registered voters can comply with the ICCPR as required under Article 39 of the Basic Law and Article 26 of the Basic Law which states every permanent resident has the right to vote and the right to stand for election.

Alternatively, allowing all directly elected District Councillors and lawmakers into the Nominating Committee, and having modest nomination thresholds while maintaining the existing ~250k elite loyalist electoral base rather opening it up to all HK registered voters can also be barely acceptable .
"Do you see the difference now between the electoral base for the US Electoral College that elects the US President and the electoral base for the 2012 Election Committee that elects the Chief Executive? "

In case you are having some difficulty understanding; the electoral base that forms the US Electoral College which elects the US President is ultimately made up of every US registered voter rather than a few handpicked mostly biased loyalists. But the number of electors per state depends on the size of the state. This also creates a situation that waters down the populism by reducing the dominance of large US states in favor of smaller states which sometimes become "swing states" that decide the overall US presidential election.

Like I said. I am absolutely in favor of watering down populism in HK with a appropriately constructed Nominating Committee. But if it crosses the line of screening out political affiliations like Iran's Guardian Council does then I am afraid I can not support that and will have to support a veto in the Legislative Council which is virtually guaranteed now.




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