Public Eye

With all the dirt that’s flying in Hong Kong, it’s no surprise Beijing is hitting back

The Legco elections show that in our free-speech society, the Leung haters want it all their own way

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 September, 2016, 4:04pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 September, 2016, 11:02am

Did Beijing’s liaison office meddle in the Legislative Council elections? Of course it did. Does it have a right to? Not ethically or constitutionally. But I’ll say something politically incorrect. The liaison office has no moral, ethical, or constitutional right to meddle in our elections but has now acquired a political right to do so.

Huh, you say? We like to kid ourselves that even politics has a moral or ethical bottom line. It doesn’t, as we are now seeing in the US presidential elections. In Hong Kong, politicians need only say they loathe Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, then go on to tell 10 lies and people will still believe them.

Our politics allows a law professor from a government-funded university to devise an election strategy that helps Leung haters win seats in the legislature but does not allow Leung to attack political rivals by saying “vote them out”. He got endless flak for that politically tame remark, but his adversaries got no flak for using much harsher language to advance their ABC – anyone but CY – election campaign slogan.

Never mind politics having no moral or ethical bottom line, it doesn’t even have a logical bottom line

In free-speech Hong Kong, our politics doesn’t allow Leung to say “vote them out” but allows his foes to say “vote him out”. Where’s the sense in that when it’s normal in all free societies for politicians to urge voters to vote out their rivals? Never mind politics having no moral or ethical bottom line, it doesn’t even have a logical bottom line.

Trapped in its communist mindset, Beijing foolishly believed free-thinking Hongkongers would embrace the motherland in a burst of patriotism after the handover. Half a million people marching against national security legislation in 2003 shattered that illusion. But a spooked Beijing began blatant meddling only after the Occupy movement, the Mong Kok riots, and the combined foothold gained by localist and independence advocates. It concluded that staying hands-off was no longer an option.

Can anyone blame Beijing for deciding it has earned the political right to fight back when Hongkongers use their free speech to promote separatism, the toppling of China’s one-party rule, and the ousting of Hong Kong’s loyalist legislators?

I’m not condoning meddling. Beijing should take the high road by letting Hongkongers pick their own way out of the political maze they have created. My point is if you put yourself in Beijing’s shoes you would meddle too. It’s called fighting dirt with dirt.