Fail mark for Lord Ashdown’s report on Hong Kong

Let’s have a beauty contest between post-Brexit Britain and post-1997 Hong Kong to see how local people choose to live in one or the other place. Everything else is just words

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 January, 2018, 2:22am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 January, 2018, 2:22am

Hong Kong let Lord Ashdown in and he acted like a Justice of the Peace of olden days to listen to the little people. The report for his political group, Hong Kong Watch, is titled: “Hong Kong 20 Years On: Freedom, Human Rights and Autonomy Under Fire – A report on Lord Ashdown’s trip to Hong Kong: November 2017.”

He didn’t seem to recognise the irony, though. “I met with fellow legislators, legal experts and political activists in Hong Kong,” the British peer wrote. “It was my intention to listen to diverse voices during my trip in order to provide a balanced account.”

Why there’s life for Hong Kong and the Basic Law beyond 2047

So he met lots of people and gave many speeches. His local friends such as Democrat Party lawmaker Ted Hui Chi-fung have been busy promoting his report, so much so that even Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor yesterday had to defend Hong Kong against allegations made in the report.

It looks like it’s still a free city. But is the report balanced? Well, that depends on whether you are “yellow” or “blue”.

It claims the Department of Justice may be interfering in the legal judgments of courts. That’s way out there.

Even the government’s fiercest critics have so far only claimed that the department’s decision to appeal against the sentencing of several Occupy protest leaders was politically motivated, not that the judge’s subsequent decision to toughen their sentences was interfered with.

Hong Kong ‘non-negotiable’ in UK’s post-Brexit China talks

The report urges us to introduce universal suffrage. We tried in 2015, but it was voted down by the opposition, along with any hope to phase out or abolish the functional constituencies in the Legislative Council election in 2020. Hence the current stalemate.

The report says Beijing must uphold the Basic Law, then goes on to warn against the dangers of legislating a national security law under Article 23. How does one decide which articles in the Basic Law are more important than others? Or is it just cherry-picking?

Britain needs to truly let go of Hong Kong

And British National (Overseas) (BNO) passports: “Consider reviewing the status of BNO holders, and taking steps to protect BNO passport holders if the human rights situation in Hong Kong significantly worsens.”

Go further, Lord Ashdown. Why not urge your government to grant right of abode to all BNO passport holders now?

Let’s have a beauty contest between post-Brexit Britain and post-1997 Hong Kong to see how local people choose to live in one or the other place. Everything else is just words.