Thugs are taking over the debate for democracy | South China Morning Post
  • Sun
  • Jan 25, 2015
  • Updated: 1:32pm
Public Eye
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 August, 2013, 4:09am

Thugs are taking over the debate for democracy

BIO

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.
 

Thugs are taking over the debate for democracy

In case last Sunday's disgraceful scenes during Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's town hall-style forum in Tin Shui Wai didn't quite disgust you enough, here's a recap: Leung's supporters and opponents punched, kicked and hurled obscenities at each other. An 11-year old boy was among those struck. One man shoved another and pulled his hair. A leader of a radical political party threw a folding chair at Leung's car. Police ended up arresting five people. And we have the gall to call ourselves a civilised society that can discuss political issues civilly. We are nothing of the sort. What we saw last Sunday was pure thuggery. Brawls between rival political groups and with police are no longer an aberration in our democracy debate. It is the norm. The debate is no longer being defined by rational discussion. It is being defined by foul-mouthed hooligans out to make trouble. You may hate what others have to say, but doesn't democracy preach that you must still defend their right to say it? If those who participate in our political debate continue in the way they conducted themselves last Sunday, they may yet prove Jackie Chan right; that Chinese societies like ours aren't culturally cut out to handle democracy. Maybe what Hong Kong needs now is a heavy dose of North Korea to scare us back to sanity.

 

No place for 'revolutionary' language in our lexicon

Have we all lost our marbles? We're now allowing scary and highly sensitive historical terms such as "cultural revolution" and "white terror" to enter the vocabulary of our democracy debate. Sunday's brawl was a shameful blot in the latest chapter of our directionless politics. But cultural revolution and white terror? How totally inane. Yet that's what pan-democrats are accusing C.Y. Leung of spreading. For starters, China's modern-day leaders have already confined the Cultural Revolution to the wrong side of history. And do our politicians even understand the historical meaning of white terror? To think that white terror or cultural revolution tactics could gain a foothold in Hong Kong's free and transparent society is downright loopy.

 

Dividing society the wrong way to find the right path

Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing warns Hong Kong could become ungovernable if we don't handle the slippery issue of universal suffrage exactly right. Could be ungovernable? It already is. What other free society legislature would block something as basic as landfill extensions? Where else would obscenities hurled at the police by one school teacher become such a big political issue that it serves to further polarise a society? Have we all lost the plot? Need Public Eye remind everyone that the central issue is finding a universal suffrage formula acceptable to the majority of Hongkongers - not foul-mouthed teachers or "not-in-my-backyard" agitators? How can we possibly advance the democracy debate by hurling chairs, pulling hair or using kids as props in scuffles between rival political thugs? Even 11-year-olds realise the more a society is divided, the less the likelihood of finding a democracy formula acceptable to the majority. We say the city's success under "one country, two systems" will provide the model for Taiwan's reunification with China. The Taiwanese must be smirking. They have unrestrained democratic politics. But we are getting there fast. Jackie Chan must already be rehearsing his "I told you so" line.

Michael Chugani is a columnist and a television show host mickchug@gmail.com

 

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