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Hong Kong Basic Law

Focus on fixing the present-day problems in Hong Kong, rather than pipe dreams of self-determination

Gary Wong says the recent declaration by a group of young pan-democrats offers only confused ideas and has no workable plan, while also ignoring current realities

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 May, 2016, 1:32pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 May, 2016, 1:32pm

Recently, some 30 young pan-democrats signed a declaration titled “Resolution on the Future of Hong Kong” calling for “internal self-determination” by Hong Kong people. As someone from the same generation, I, too, love Hong Kong. Yet, we must not be content with visions of the future and neglect current-day needs.

The resolution itself seems confusing. For a start, it stresses that Hong Kong people must defend their autonomy under provisions in the Basic Law, amend illogical articles and consolidate the city’s autonomous position. Does “internal self-determination” refer to maintaining the highest degree of self-determination under the current constitutional arrangements? If so, this is hardly any different from “Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong” and a “high degree of autonomy”, as stated in the Basic Law.

If not, are the signatories seeking a new set of constitutional arrangements outside the Basic Law? If so, does this imply independence, as the pro-Beijing media has claimed?

Why talk of an independent Hong Kong fails the test of reality

Then there is the issue of “amending illogical articles within the Basic Law”. Which articles are to be amended? How? Are amendments going to be put forward according to Article 159, which says any amendments must be backed by a two-thirds majority of Hong Kong deputies to the National People’s Congress and a two-thirds majority of all legislators – before seeking the chief executive’s approval and it is handed to the NPC?

Moreover, any amendment should not contradict China’s underlying policies on the SAR’s autonomy.

Taking things further, if the statement is not meant to encourage independence, will the signatories honour our mini constitution? If they refuse to recognise the Basic Law, on what basis would they seek to negotiate with Beijing?

Whether it is talk of “internal self-determination”, establishing a city state, or even independence, all these ideas have arisen as a result of defective governance. With democratisation at an impasse, we cannot afford to shy away from current realities and instead fixate on what may or may not happen in 31 years.

Chief Executive CY Leung blames Hong Kong voting system for independence calls

Politicians and their parties need to have citizens’ well-being at heart. They should make practical plans for the coming decade that can help us achieve democracy and prosperity, while seeking to settle disputes in society. The last thing we need is people promoting the interests of a few at the expense of all others, pushing politics towards the extremes or advocating unconstitutional “visions” for the city’s future.

Gary Wong is a governor at the Path of Democracy think tank and a Chevening Scholar