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  • Dec 18, 2014
  • Updated: 6:14pm
Public Eye
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 August, 2013, 4:09am

Thugs are taking over the debate for democracy


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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This article is now closed to comments

What do you expect when the CE's supporters hire thugs to bulk up their numbers?
Hongkongers don’t deserve to be praise “ civilized and rational” anymore. Instead, some of them become more childish and savage that I have never imagined. Stopping lashing out the mainlanders how they have uncivilly behaved in Hong Kong. How dare an 11-year old boy are being exploited by some political parties to get political benefits! “I don’t like HongKongers are mature enough to handle democracy” that I have had a doubt before. “Chinese societies like ours aren’t culturally cut out to handle democracy” I agree with it, I do wish a universal suffrage comes true in Hong Kong, though.
You call Hong Kong's political debate uncivilized then you throw in democratic concepts of free speech in a city that does not yet have universal suffereage....
The problem is from your simple minded perspective is you cannot see the difference between different political parties having different points of view on how to run the country/SAR/society vs. a group who have opposing view on the direction of the SAR and
a group of local political parties who feel the way forward is with political reform and electoral democracy and universal suffereage vs. other parties and supporters who side with an authortarian doctarship across the border who believe that no democratic reforms shoud be institued and the leader of Hong Kong should be chosen by the dictatorship in Beijing. They are not arguinbg about issues, they are arguing about even having democracy in the first place. Why you can't see that is beyond any reasonable person.
Dai Muff
" An 11-year old boy was among those struck." If you choose to believe him. I am rather more interested in the footage of him being in the middle of it, being slapped on the back in approval by other thugs, and chucking water bottles at people.
You are coming across as rather naive about the nature of those Leung supporters, and of groups like the YCA, who are going out of their way to intimidate. I think that the Falun Gong religion is nuts. Come to that, I think most religions are nuts. But I do admire how well the FG hold their patience when intimidated by anti-cult goons. You talk as if both sides are violent. Why then is it only ever democrats who get beaten up, chopped, or attacked? And this goes back decades.
Dai Muff
No. The problem is that we are still not ruling ourselves. For some "de-colonialization" merely means replacing freedoms with political conformity.
Dai Muff
I certainly think HK people deserve the vote. I agree with you that at least certain members of the pan-Democrats are their own worse enemy. It is the other side that has the "united front". There are people on the "left" I respect more than some of the pan democrats, although not all.
John Adams
Michael - you are correct to write this strongly-worded piece.
I feel very sad that things have come this stage.
BTW: It would help the debate on universal suffrage if the pan-dems would : A) get their act together and stop squabbling like a load of school children ; and B) stop playing the silly immature pranks that some of the more extreme pan-dems now delight in.
If there were free elections for 100% of LEGCO and the new CE tomorrow by universal suffrage none of the pan-dems would get my vote simply because I don't see that any of them have the slightest idea how to govern HK if they were voted in, and I certainly can't respect the majority of them.
The only exception is Albert Ho, who is lone voice of sense and reason in the pan-dem camp.
None of the current pan-dems would get my vote, not even Albert who had nothing to offer when he ran for the CE job last year.
It's sad that I have to agree with what Jackie Chan said that Chinese societies like ours aren't culturally cut out to handle democracy. All you have to do is look at our history, we were always governed by authoritarian, emperor or dictator or whatever one wants to call it. If that "dictator" was good, the country was strong and people lived in harmony as in the early stages of the Han, Tang dynasties for example. Now Hong Kong has enjoyed a bit of democracy after the handover, and just look what happens. All these in-fighting among political groups. Sad! Sad! No wonder some HK citizen raised the colonial flag when they protested, they enjoyed being governed by the colonial government with no freedom and democracy to speak of.
But democracy? How totally inane. Yet that's what pan-democrats are accusing C.Y. Leung of avoiding. For starters, Egypt's modern-day leaders have already confined the democracy to the wrong side of history. And do our politicians even understand the historical meaning of demcocracy? To think that democracy could gain a foothold in Hong Kong's free and transparent society is downright loopy.




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