Letters to the Editor, October 24, 2014
Protests will damage Hong Kong's future
I thought the talks between government officials and student leaders went off quite well on Tuesday evening, although nothing new was expressed from either side.
After the talks ended, the Occupy leaders seemed obviously dissatisfied with the outcome, saying the government did not respond to the request of the Hong Kong people.
I would like to point out that the student leaders definitely do not represent all of the people of Hong Kong. They certainly do not represent me, or maybe three-quarters of the population, the citizens who are not out on the streets, but who are suffering from all the chaos, the inconvenience and possible further destruction to our normally peaceful city.
Most Hongkongers are law-abiding citizens. Of course, there is always a need for improvement in various aspects of society, but it doesn't take thousands of people spending days and nights on the streets, disrupting people's lives and livelihoods to bring it about.
This is not only not achieving any benefits for anybody, but doing the opposite. We are not hurting anyone but ourselves. If Hong Kong loses its clout, this would only benefit Shanghai, Shenzhen and other cities in China. They don't need Hong Kong.
Is there a way for those of us who want stability and want Hong Kong to proceed peacefully through to 2017, to tell the Occupy people that we are all part of one country, and we should work towards the good of all?
M. Wei, Repulse Bay
Occupy does not represent majority view
The student representatives suggested several times during the televised talks on Tuesday night that they were representing the views of the people of Hong Kong.
On what do they base this assertion? As a long-time resident of this hitherto safe, friendly, free and prosperous speck on the world map, I can state categorically that they do not represent my views and nor have they sought them.
Since they profess to believe so passionately in democracy, may I suggest that they undertake a poll of all the registered electorate seeking views on the current protests.
I strongly suspect that such an approach would not produce the results they desire. But that's democracy for you.
Mike Pitcher, Pok Fu Lam
Direction more important than speed
It is obvious to everyone that in Hong Kong the government has tried hard to allow as much freedom to the so-called democracy protesters as is possible and at risk of civil disobedience.
I cannot think of anywhere else in the democratic world where this behaviour would have been tolerated for so long and with such patience. And nowhere would a government televise a live face-to-face with protesters. How can you get more open than that?
Our students need to be reminded, as do their teachers, that democracy is a process of moving towards balancing freedoms.
More freedom for some often means less freedom for others. The goal of one vote, one person in a free choice is a laudable target. One might, however, from Beijing's point of view, be concerned about the maturity of the population when the electorate repeatedly votes egg and banana throwers into the Legislative Council.
Even if you look at the large democracies, you can see major problems and corruption. A glaring example would be the illegal election of George W. Bush as US president, in 2000, by excluding certain Florida votes in the final count.
Proper systems and procedures need to be in place and must be developed and monitored over time as there is always the human tendency to power and greed.
The failed attempts to graft Western democracy onto Iraq and other places is very clear evidence that democracy needs to be based on the culture and history of a community, and it takes time.
The democracy movement in principle is a good one but it must respect the status quo, work collaboratively with all voices in the community and focus on methods as well as goals.
Remember that direction is more important than speed.
Nick Crawford, Cheung Sha Wan
Demonstrators rejecting fake democracy
It has been a very long time since Hong Kong was so prominent on the international stage.
It may confuse some people abroad that the protesters are talking about wanting democracy in one of the freest places in the world.
Friends on the mainland have admitted being puzzled by this, so how can we expect the leaders in Beijing to get it?
I explained to these friends that many mainlanders come here to buy milk formula, because they know it is genuine. We hate buying fake products in Hong Kong and it is the same with politics. You can call the nomination system for the 2017 chief executive election, decided by the National People's Congress, whatever you like, but do not call it universal suffrage. We do not want to take part in a vote that merely rubber-stamps Beijing's choice. That cannot be called progress.
I admire the students and all those who have lived on the streets these past weeks. They are unselfish and have risked their personal safety to fight to ensure everyone has a voice. They have given Hong Kong hope.
Some people have accused the students of being idealistic and impractical, because they do not know the ways of the world. But what have those critics done, especially those who have access to China's leaders? Have our senior crusaders for democracy done enough?
There are still many people who are not convinced that democracy is the best way to govern and they are entitled to their opinion. However, I have yet to see a campaign in a city or country where people demand less democracy than already exists.
There is little chance that the campaign will get what it set out to achieve; and even less chance Hong Kong will ever be the same again. The road ahead is going to be harder for everyone.
John Cheng, Quarry Bay
Civilised action has impressed everyone
As a supporter of the Occupy Central movement, I have been infuriated by the response of the government and police and the attitude of the blue-ribbon supporters.
These protests against the government are unprecedented in Hong Kong.
Everyone, including the foreign press, has been impressed by the civilised behaviour of the protesters.
I do not think the protests would have gone on this long if the government had not kept putting off talks.
Harry Ng, Tseung Kwan O
Police and people must stand together
The police have been criticised for overuse of force when dealing with the Occupy Central movement protesters.
At first, I felt that the criticism was unfair, but I now believe the behaviour of police has been unacceptable.
I have read reports in the media saying protesters were not allowed to go to the washroom when they were surrounded by a chain of police in Civic Square at the government headquarters in Admiralty.
I realise officers were trying to prevent a situation from getting out of hand, but the activists' basic human rights were being violated and I find this disappointing.
I also felt the firing of a lot of tear gas on September 28 was not right.
I think the image of the Hong Kong Police Force has been damaged.
Officers have shown no understanding of what the protesters are doing. They just concentrate on maintaining law and order. And then there is the alleged attack on a protester, which is under investigation.
Those who have come to the defence of the police, and their handling of the protests, have said that they are under considerable pressure, but I do not see how violent acts can relieve pressure.
In my opinion, the protesters and the police should not be putting themselves into two opposing camps.
We should all see ourselves as Hong Kong people who are fighting for the same thing - genuine democracy. There should not be polarisation.
Any officers found guilty of excesses are, I am sure, in the minority.
I still have faith in the Hong Kong police and I hope there can be mutual understanding between the two sides and that differences can be kept to a minimum.
Maggie Law Wing-yi, Kwai Chung
Aim should be for democracy by instalment
I am advisory commissioner for the Overseas Chinese Affairs Council of the Republic of China (Taiwan) in the US and refer to Alex Lo's column ("Let Hong Kong deal with the protests", October 21).
Hong Kong's upheavals have shaken the world. But the fight for democracy requires gradualism and reason.
If Hong Kong and Beijing find a way to gradually forge ahead towards democracy, it would be a huge boost for the development of relations between Taiwan and China.
The most urgent concern for people in Hong Kong is the need to tackle political reform to achieve a Taiwan style "democracy by instalment plan".
After all, Taiwan's road to democracy took more than 30 years.
Kent Wang, Potomac Falls, Virginia, US