Hong Kong government should have trusted voters to make the right choice

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 August, 2016, 3:45pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 August, 2016, 11:30pm

The Electoral Affairs Commission made the controversial decision to bar some pro-independence activists, including Nakade Hitsujiko, Chan Ho-tin and Edward Leung Tin-kei, from running in next month’s Legislative Council election because their stance did not comply with the Basic Law.

Our government believes that it can prevent a constitutional threat by disqualifying those activists. However, such a decision was neither wise nor effective to promote patriotism.

Many pro-establishment mouthpieces argued that electoral officers have legitimate reasons to consider applicants’ views on the Basic Law and Hong Kong’s status.

Yet, the commission’s reasons for disqualification were very baffling. Electoral officials doubted the word of some activists who had promised not to promote Hong Kong independence as legislators, yet seemed to believe others. A notable localist like Horace Chin Wan-kan, for example, was allowed to run. Can we really say the officers were objective or fair?

Moreover, the commission’s decisions insult the intelligence of millions of citizens. Politicians with different views stand for elections, and we elect those who can represent us in the legislature and do their duty of monitoring government decisions. Pro-establishment mouthpieces like to say that the majority of citizens are wise enough to vote for the right candidates. However, the government’s decision showed that voters aren’t really trusted to vote rationally but must be protected as if they were fools.

The political atmosphere has been tense after the Umbrella Movement. The commission’s move may now give citizens who have been dismayed by the lack of democratic progress in Hong Kong more reason to be frustrated. Even those who don’t support separatists may now sympathise with these rejected candidates. Is this what our government wants?

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko was known to mock his political opponents for not daring to nominate candidates but instead boycotting elections. Our arrogant government is worse than the last dictator of Europe – it directly barred so-called dangerous candidates from running.

Let me quote Squealer in George Orwell’s Animal Farm: Napoleon “would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be?” What does the government think of us? Fools who always make the “wrong decisions”?

Our leaders who lack tolerance like their Beijing boss have lost citizens’ trust. Such absurd actions will only undermine the authority’s remaining prestige.

Henry Wong, Kennedy Town