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  • Dec 27, 2014
  • Updated: 2:14am
Public Eye
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 March, 2013, 4:24am

It's time to get real about democracy in city


Michael Chugani is a Hong Kong-born American citizen who has worked for many years as a journalist in Hong Kong, the USA and London. Aside from being a South China Morning Post columnist he also hosts ATV’s Newsline show, a radio show and writes for two Chinese-language publications. He has published a number of books on politics which contain English and Chinese versions.

Get this through your thick skull, all of you: Hong Kong will never have true democracy. We're a part of China, not an independent entity. The best we can hope for is a kind of democracy our masters in Beijing can live with. But this still hasn't hit home 15 years after the handover. Hongkongers screeched when state leaders made clear that chief executives elected under universal suffrage starting in 2017 must love Hong Kong and China. What's so outrageous about that? Should we instead elect traitors as our leaders? You can argue that to be a patriot, you need only love the country, not the Communist Party. But get real - the Communist Party rules China. Go ahead, elect a chief executive who hates the Communist Party and see how far he gets when he asks Beijing for favours. Hongkongers screeched even louder over reports that Beijing has planned a process to filter out undesirable chief executive candidates when universal suffrage starts. Well, loyalists such as Elsie Leung Oi-sie and Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai were talking nonsense when they equated a filtering process to the US' primary elections. A screening process aims to get rid of candidates Beijing doesn't trust; the US primary process is to identify the most electable party candidate through a democratic vote by members of political parties. Equating the two is puerile. But so is playing an all-or-nothing game with Beijing which we just can't win. Hong Kong is already among the freest societies in the world. We're now just fighting for the icing on the cake - the democratic right to elect our leaders. Let's not argue that this is more than just icing because elections produce better, fairer and more accountable leaders. Would a democratically elected "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung make a better leader than an undemocratically elected Leung Chun-ying? So why not settle for thinner icing? Why not fight the more winnable battle for a screening committee that's representative of the people? Surely, it's common sense that a chief executive who doesn't have Beijing's trust can't possibly serve Hong Kong's interests better than one who does.


Let's pass the Article 23 legislation as a sign of trust

Let's have a deal. Mainland leaders don't trust Hong Kong's pan-democrats, suspecting they are US lackeys with an agenda to undermine the motherland. The pan-democrats see mainland leaders as repressive communists who can't be trusted to keep their promise of universal suffrage for Hong Kong. How do you overcome this deep distrust that so divides the two sides? Simple - just pass anti-subversion laws known as Article 23 of the Basic Law. Pan-democrats have long resisted Article 23, fearing Beijing would use it to target them. Meanwhile, mainland leaders have long suspected the pan-democrats are up to no good in opposing national security legislation. Why don't the democrats prove they're not traitors by supporting a version of Article 23 that doesn't diminish Hong Kong's freedoms? This would demonstrate their trust in Beijing and fulfil a constitutional duty. Once laws are in place to punish traitors, Beijing should be assured and reciprocate trust by granting maximum democracy without losing its say over Hong Kong issues. Surely it's a fair exchange that's doable.



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This article is now closed to comments

so sad but Chugani is so true :(
I think Whymat was pretty balance. He gave western civilization credit where credit is due without chanting "west is best" like you and fellow pan-dems do. Honestly, aside from small countries like Norway, democracy is pretty screwed up right now in the west. Also we should also look towards the accomplishments of east asian societies, such as how people in east asia have long life spans.
Pflim, before you judge others of having a small mind, you should take your own advice and look in the mirror.
hard times !
Local pan-democrats can't trust communist leaders in Beijing.On the other hand,the Communists who rule Mainland China and Hong Kong as well never favour the pan-democrats in town---suspecting that they are the agents/followers of their American master.How can a candidate from the pan-democrat camp be elected as our chief executive in 2017 ? Of course not ! We are fully aware of that, yet a screening mechanism of the candidates can never be accepted as it is not a geniune universal suffrage which requires voters to choose their leader through ' one man, one vote'. A primary poll / screening mechanism to get rid of any candidates (no matter how radical their political views are) just cannot be accepted at all-----this might be the view of most Hongkongers who embrace democracy and wish for a democratic political system in Hong Kong---their home !
Common law of all English speaking countries attempts to balance between customs and statutes. Common law in the US emphasizes constitutional primacy. A legislation by the House could be invalidated by the courts if it is “unconstitutional.” Independent judiciary is often a joke because many judges are elected. Federal circuit and district court judges are appointed by the president. But all appointees are subject to partisan approval and filibuster in the Senate.
The UK doesn’t come with the excess baggage of a constitution. In my opinion, its judiciary is less political than one in the US.
Hong Kong lawyers speak with forked tongue about common law. Basic Law is a new constitution. Its articles must be tested in the courts for many years before legal precedents can be established. Constipated legal minds like Margaret Ng’s constantly render their opinions of BL as if they had a century of judiciary opinions behind them. What hypocrisy!
There are always conflicts within the contents of a constitution and existing statutes. Paramount matters of collective survival - sovereignty and security - must take precedent over trendy personal vacuous ideals about democracy and freedom.
In the context of Basic Law, our lawyers constantly violate the spirit of common law by lobbying against certain legislations. Their hateful rhetoric of the central government often demonstrates their subversive intent of the common law tradition.
It is great entertainment to hear small minds amuse themselves with hateful diatribes. Better yet, hear these folks discharge rear-end wastes through mouths not longer governable by West-is-best brainwashed minds.
Smart Asians, white folks and people of every race and nation appreciate the profound achievements of the great Western Civilization. But let us not get mixed up the mindless, and worst of all, lobotomized zombies, chanting democracy, freedom and rule of law with honest, genuine aspiration to good governance.
hard times !
Agree with what the writer said that the screening scheme is to get rid of candidates that Beijing dislike/ cannot trust such as the so-called radicals in town: Wong Yuk-man, Chan Wai-yip or Leung Kwok-hung plus our respectable barristers such as Audrey Yu Yuet-mei, Leung Ka-kit, or Tong Ka-wah or even solicitors such as Ho Chun-yan, To Kun-sun or Kwok Wing-hang.Right ? Pro-Beijing loyalists like Leung Oi-see or Rita Fan Tsui Lei-tai are just ****ting to equate the planned primary poll to the U.S.Primary polls done within both Democratic Party or Republicians ! They are misleading ignorant or innocent Hong Kong voters and general public, i'm afraid.
The legal profession is a strong force in the opposition to Article 23 enactment because it doesn’t really trust the judiciary
hard times !
your words and views clearly demonstrate your small mind-set yourself.Don't you know ? Before criticizing other writers in this open forum,please review yourself first to see whether you have got a balanced mind-set in local politics.Okay ?
hard times !
Dr.Sun Yet-sen is used to be and is still addressed as Dr.Sun Yet-sen but never Dr.Chongshan ! Never ! This Old Hong Kong just enjoys our valued freedoms of speech and expression and never expected my comment to be published if the editor of this 'Comment' column won't have it published here ! I was not afraid to air my views,my geniune views concerning what a geniune patriot should be---love one's mother country, instead of a corrupted and autocratic ruling regime, no matter it was the Ching Dynasty or the Chinese Communist Party Dynasty which have got too many similarities and only different in the extents of the correlated sectors only. Right ? Even standing committe member of CPPCC,Mrs Fan claimed that our future chief exective should love his/her nation,Hong Kong but not necessarily the Party !
I suspect Dr Zhongshan would have given your advice about 30 seconds and moved on. Do you think before putting in the emotive tripe you manage to get published?


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