• Sun
  • Aug 31, 2014
  • Updated: 12:28am
NewsHong Kong

Last governor Chris Patten speaks of 'regrets' over Hong Kong democracy

City's last governor says Britain should have gone further on democracy

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 November, 2013, 4:53am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 November, 2013, 12:55pm

Hong Kong's last colonial governor sparked fresh debate in the city yesterday when he revealed that the "biggest regret" of his tenure was that Britain didn't go further to implement parts of the Sino-British Joint Declaration, particularly on elections.

Chris Patten also told The Wall Street Journal that anyone who tried to block more political rights for Hongkongers was "spitting in the wind".

But his remarks were dismissed as "meaningless" by Tam Yiu-chung, chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, who said many changes he implemented between 1992 and 1997 were rolled back after the handover.

Signed in 1984, the declaration guaranteed Hong Kong's social and economic systems for 50 years. It said the chief executive would be appointed by Beijing based on "elections or consultations" and that Hong Kong's legislature would be elected.

Patten's attempts to increase democracy by allowing more Hongkongers to vote for lawmakers in functional constituencies saw him dubbed a "sinner of the ages" by Beijing's Hong Kong affairs chief, Lu Ping.

Patten told the Journal London spent too much time negotiating on "areas that the Chinese leadership was never going to agree to, rather than simply taking action on those points".

He added: "The only thing [Hong Kong] doesn't have is the right to elect its own government, and sooner or later it will have … anybody who tries to resist that is, I think, spitting in the wind."

DAB lawmaker Ip Kwok-him was unimpressed.

"I also regret that Patten went against the [terms] of the joint declaration and … made those [electoral] changes," he said. "I don't think anyone, including the central government, is resisting democratic development."

Patten also said it would be a "concern" and bad for the city and country if Hong Kong's independence was eroded by mainland organisations.


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HK went from being a fishing village to what it was in 1997 during the course of British rule. Now, that's merely correlation, and there's no proof that HK progressed BECAUSE of British rule. I suppose, for the deeply indoctrinated, one could try to suggest that HK progressed IN SPITE of British rule. However, one only needs to look at where HK was in 1997 and compare that to where China was in 1997 (not to mention similar temporal comparisons in the 1960s during the height of Mao's craziness) to see that, on balance, HK did pretty well.
It's certainly true that the Brits didn't find their voice in supporting a democratic evolution for HK until after they were no longer in charge. And some might find it curious as to why they're saying these things now. But it seems all too often that people are caught up with who is saying it, and losing sight of what they've actually said. What's wrong with more democratic rights for HKers? If it's truly going to be 2 systems, what's wrong with developing HK's system in accordance with HK people's wishes? (Now of course, I think the 2 systems thing is a bit of a crock, but we shall see what Beijing does moving forward.)
There is nothing wrong about HK receive more democratic rights and developing more democratic reforms. But step by step and not hastily as every country is doomed to fail if political reforms are not slowly and carefully implemented.
It is not wrong to call for democratic reforms but it has a foul aftertaste if you hear it from the Brits (and their servants), who for themselves had done nothing or not enough in regards to this call during their time of rule of HK. Even Patten as, yes he did introduce something like a parliament during his time as governeur, but this was nothing else than a comedy and farce as if you do something like this in the eve of the Handover, it is a big joke on the Central Government of China.
Why are the british clamouring for democracy in HK after 150 years of colonial dictatorship? Why was democracy not given to HK when they were running it?
Why do HK chinese still clinging on to be british inside? The british ruled the world at one time with aggression and brutality.....they were the forerunners of racism and bigotry. democracy was only given to themselves in the motherland.
Now that the British are weak and poor (and declining each day), why is everyone is asia not seizing the opportunity to discard the mental yoke? Are the Brits really more capable than us today? In which respect? Language, culture, commerce, entrepreneurship? Even if they are better than us in some areas, eg Rugby!, does it make them natural leaders of us?
This is OUR time. The only thing we should learn from their legacy is how to colonise other countries.
Chris Patten cant even win a seat in his bloody BATH constituency. And we let him rule HK,,,,what the hell was everyone thinking??
Even if Joint D were accorded full treaty status
note how after she had made treaty referral
Thatcher kissed the steps of People’s Great Hall
Joint D was just China’s gentlemanly way to give britain face
What China gave, China can easily take away, if britain misbehaves
BL’s preamble can’t be clearer,
HK and 1C2S are entirely national affairs
As Danny G noted, “there are no legal limits
on the Standing Committee’s power
to interpret the Hong Kong Basic Law”
It is foolish to pretend otherwise
Catcher is right
“The British did not and do not have any say”
"china can easily take away, if Britain misbehaves" is an imaginative viewpoint.
As you can see China is more CAPITALIST probably it ranks #1 now, only the cover looks socialist (just for decor) After the recent meeting i feel China gonna be more western. :D So thanks to Brits and Thatcher that HK is already enjoying it and not bad China is following us :). Good to see CCP is bowing to ppl. power...
The British did not and do not have any say in Hong Kong's future, no matter how much these phonies pretend to have had any influence on Beijing's decision-making process. This is how it was intended. The fact that the 1997 event was called a "handover" should provide some clues. It is pathetic for Britain and Patten to act like crybabies and hang on to Hong Kong like leeches, is the city of London really that broke?
Read about the Sino-British Joint Declaration, and then reconsider your baseless contention that the British had no say. Start with "Introduction to the Basic Law" by Danny Gittings HKU Press. It would probably serve you well in the future to avoid publicly demonstrating your ignorance.
Interesting you bring up this rabid hate-China imbecile. Tell me, how many libraries stock a copy of Gittings' "book?" How many copies did HKU Press sell? How much money did HKU Press lose in publishing this piece of "garbage?"
Of course I have good reasons to be close-minded. If you had read Gittings' diatribes in SCMP all these years, the only reason you read this is to confirm your bias and fulfill a China bashing passion.
You are wrong in every regard.




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