• Wed
  • Sep 17, 2014
  • Updated: 7:47am
My Take
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 12 July, 2014, 4:35am
UPDATED : Sunday, 13 July, 2014, 8:33am

Hong Kong pan-democrats take on censorious and dogmatic attitude

Democracy is supposed to be about free speech as much as anything else. But the pan-democrats and their allies are rapidly becoming the most censorious and dogmatic in our society.

Anglican Church Archbishop Paul Kwong delivered a sermon about people who doth protest too much and that we might consider toning, and quieting, down sometimes. It sounded perfectly sensible to me but he was roundly denounced, not least by the organisers of Occupy Central, the very people who are calling for a blockade of our business district.

The Reverend Chu Yiu-ming said it was sad to have "the existence of such a sermon" and that Kwong shouldn't make fun of protesting students who were arrested. Why not, when they complained of having to wait for food, drinks, lawyers and the use of toilets? Perhaps the police should apologise for making the students' stay an uncomfortable one. Officers have already been faulted by critics just for doing their job in a most restrained manner.

It's a sensitive time ahead of the government's expected release of its election reform consultation results next week. In his latest report to the British Parliament on Hong Kong, Foreign Secretary William Hague expressed support for the city's struggle for universal suffrage but otherwise avoided using stronger language that might provoke Beijing. The usual suspects like Democratic Party chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing and Kenneth Chan Ka-lok of the Civic Party immediately jumped on Hague for not speaking out. But poking Beijing in the eye at every opportunity is not the preferred method (or madness) of everyone.

Meanwhile, HSBC and Barclays put out investment reports warning about the impact of Occupy Central. The predictable chorus of critics went into overdrive. According to some parents, the State Council's white paper should not be taught or even discussed in schools. It's the same parent concern group from the fight against national education. As before, it is encouraging others to rat on any unwitting school that tries to do it.

There are many people who disagree with the pan-dems' often obstructionist and destructive methods, if not their goals. Not all of them are Beijing stooges, apologists or opportunists.


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This article is now closed to comments

I just don't get this piece. I cannot see where the pan-dems are trying to stop people from expressing their opinions. All they are doing is disagreeing with those opinions. This is not attempting to restrict freedom of speech.
And, of course, the central government and the pro-Beijing clique would never dream of stopping people from expressing their opinions. /sarc for those who need it pointing out.
"There are many people who disagree with the pan-dems' often obstructionist and destructive methods, if not their goals."
Do I take this to mean Mr Lo supports the goals of the pan-dems but not their means? Would not an honest man then suggest other means by which to attain these goals, rather than, well.. whatever this is I've just waded through.
Another absolute nonsense from Alex Lo again. Reading Alex "laughing stock" Lo has become a weekly "fun" for me !
What is wrong with an Archbishop making fun of protesting students?
I have taught in primary and secondary schools in Hong Kong for 10 years, and I can tell you it's quite a challenge to get students even slightly interested in issues related to civics or politics. These protestors may not have everything right. Perhaps, if they were more mature and experienced they might not have complained about the conditions they faced. Perhaps with more experience they might have waited for a later occasion to protest. But at least they cared enough to do something. These kids are Hong Kong's future. They are trying to get involved and take some responsibility. That's deeply commendable - to be praised and encouraged. And the best a spiritual leader can do is make terrible jokes to mock them? That's abominable. Now do you understand why it's wrong Mr. Lo?
Alex Lo, for a journalist, you are so sadly lacking in understanding an ability to think through a question clearly.
I think the Archbishop is entitled to make his comments whether you agree with him or not, no? Why would he be abominable then whereas the students getting involved are called commendable? If you condemn Alex for his views (opinion), you are simply being a hypocrite to what you profess to believe in (freedom of speech or expression).
Definition of Freedom of Speech: The political right to communicate one's opinions and ideas using one's body and property to anyone who is willing to receive them. The term freedom of expression is sometimes used synonymously, but includes any act of seeking, receiving and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used.
Of course Kwong is entitled to his opinions. But when he made his statement in the church and did not claim it's his personal opinion, people could easily have taken his words as representing the church. The difference is huge.
More than 20 years ago I wrote in the letters column that the Basic Law was a big grey area. It was my opinion. I was heavily criticized. No problem, every one is entitled to his opinion. That is freedom of speech.
But when my patriotic Chairman's secretary called me to confirm if the writer was in fact me, no matter how friendly her tone was, I took the hint. As his trusted protege I stopped writing until he passed away.
Feel the difference?
atfh - I'm sorry but I am not being a hypocrite - My words are completely consistent with my firm dedication to freedom of expression and dialogue. I would suggest that you do not understand the principles involved.
You include a definition of freedom of speech - where in your definition from Wikipedia, does it say that the views one expresses may not be critiqued by others? It does not say this - nor does it mean this. It means that one is not to be prevented by force from expressing one's views. Once expressed they are open to criticism!
But you are to be forgiven for your ignorance. You have been led astray, misinformed by Alex Lo, who has done us all a grave disservice with his incorrect use of the terms 'freedom of speech' and 'censor'
Furthermore, did you read my comment? What do you think of the point I am making?
A very serious problem with Alex Lo's opinion is that he does not have a correct understanding of the meaning of 'free speech'.
Free speech is interpreted here as a situation under which people can express opinions with an expectation that they will not be criticized by others. This is not what free speech is at all and is not the free speech right always associated with democracy. Free speech(Freedom of Expression) protects the right of individuals and groups to express themselves without fear of being silenced through imprisonment or other means of enforcement by the state. It is meant to protect the right to speak of the less powerful from the control of the powerful.
Lo refers to criticism by democrats (and presumably many individuals) of a collection of more powerful voices in society that have used their power to try to influence the less powerful in their care. Their criticism and the criticism of the expressions of people like Bishop Kwok or Mr Ma of MaBelle is in no way 'censorious'. It is quite the opposite - this criticism, this dialogue and disagreement within society is the lifeblood of democracy.
In this case, Alex is also entitled to criticize the democrats or whoever he thinks. Criticism should work both way.




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