Another step to guided democracy

An anonymous source ‘close to Beijing’ suggests that some sort of preliminary election will take place when Hong Kong chooses its Chief Executive by universal suffrage, presumably in 2017. Most of us don’t need to be told the Chinese Communist Party cannot allow a popular vote without a guarantee that all candidates accept its monopoly of power; the Basic Law refers to universal suffrage in the context of ‘nomination by a broadly representative nominating committee’. As with the current Chief Executive Election Committee, ‘broadly representative’ means rigged via the selection of members who appear to represent ‘various sectors’ but are mostly loyal, with a crucial number who are totally obedient.

But some people can’t bring themselves to accept or admit this. Pro-Beijing and United Front figures insist on maintaining a fiction about how the CCP is cool with democracy. Former Justice Secretary Elsie Leung claims that whatever system emerges will be free and fair, while non-stop chatterer National People’s Congress delegate Rita Fan blathers away about how the process will be the equivalent of, say, a party-based primary election in the West.

Similarly, pro-democrats cling to their own fantasy about the ability of a one-party state to give up complete ultimate control. Former Chief Secretary Anson Chan is probably right in saying that Hongkongers wouldn’t vote for someone hostile to Beijing, but that cuts no ice with a paranoid CCP that detects foreign subversion all around.

This is not the first time Beijing has managed expectations about democratic development in the Big Lychee. On this occasion, it will likely undermine potential popular support for some forthcoming pro-dem activities.

Last month, law professor Benny Tai proposed a carefully planned ‘Occupy Central’ sit-in for July 2014, drawing on the principles of civil disobedience. There would have been something eloquent and inspiring about 10,000 people peacefully and willingly putting their own liberty at risk for the cause of universal suffrage. Citing Thoreau, Gandhi and Martin Luther King, participants could expect broad support in the community – especially if Chief Executive CY Leung hadn’t solved his trust and effectiveness problems. The local and national authorities would cringe under the international attention. The one-party state would not collapse, but as we have seen with Article 23 and National Education, Beijing can be induced to blink first. The exercise could at least prompt a much firmer commitment to a semi-democratic poll in 2017 and possibly even help produce a slightly more open system.

Now that’s probably not going to happen. The Democratic Party’s excitable lawmaker Albert Ho and other impetuous, hyperactive and self-indulgent pro-dems will want to push ahead with an ‘Occupy Central’ of their own this year. Unlike Benny Tai, they will not conceive and design it to produce a specific outcome. They will drag other demands, from ‘CY Leung stand down’ to ‘universal pension’ to ‘free Liu Xiaobo’ into the protest. They will leave the public bemused, if not irritated, at the traffic jams and extra policing costs.

Albert Ho is also thinking of standing down as an at-large democratically elected lawmaker in order to trigger a by-election that would serve as a de-facto referendum on democracy. Last time the Civic Party tried to pull this potentially effective but easily wasted stunt, the DP refused to go along. The pro-Beijing camp undermined it by refusing to run any candidates, and the result was an embarrassingly low turn-out and charges of wasting taxpayers’ money. Ho is also proclaiming how willing he is to be jailed and/or lose his right to practice law. He would be better off storing his ego wherever he keeps his charisma.

A rigged preliminary quasi-election poses an interesting possible challenge. What if, say, CY Leung wants to get on the ballot in 2017, and has a feeble 20% opinion poll rating, and another pro-Beijing figure like Tsang Yok-sing also declares an interest and similarly has only a 20% rating – and a pro-dem figure comes forward with 50% in the opinion polls? How does the process and subsequent Chief Executive have any integrity when the rigged Primary Election Committee ‘votes’ to put only Leung and Tsang on the ballot? Thanks to the pro-democrats, Beijing doesn’t have to worry about this problem.

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17 Responses to Another step to guided democracy

  1. Maugrim says:

    First they came up with the ‘other plan’, ie, to resign from their seats in a vote of protest, forcing an election. When that didn’t work, they came up with the ‘other other plan’ which involved them resigning from their seats in protest, forcing an election.

  2. Revolution says:

    Given that Pro Dem candidates have actually managed to get on the Ballot in the last 2 CE elections, I assume that this preliminary step will not involve the CE electorate as currently constituted, as that’s too much risk for Beijing.

    Be interesting to see what sort of gerrymandering they come up with.

  3. It’s called crisis initiation. Fools like Albert Ho always fall into it because they have no sense of humour.

  4. Property Developer says:

    It’s the age-old dilemma of how a more open and sincere set of people can oppose a set who will not hesitate to use every dirty, vicious trick in the book, while being devious enough to pretend to cede significant ground and thus win over the waverers and split the opposition.

    By concentrating on incidental matters like the dems’ style, timing or tactics, Hemlock may be “objectively” reinforcing the status quo — as do, ultimately, the CY apologists. The only defensible position in my view is to declare support for the pan-dems in their unequal fight.

  5. Stephen says:

    There must be a nomination committee (rigged as the election committee is now) to ensure only those deemed acceptable to Beijing get on the ballot. You cannot even have a token Pro-Dem on the ballot because this time there is a risk they could win and that is utterly unacceptable to the CCP.

    A lot of those currently making noise (Rita, Jasper, Vagina) will be way too old come 2017 so look for a Starry / Carrie “contest”. Especially if, CY’s ratings are still in the dustbin, his populist measures haven’t had the desired effect and he needs to be promoted to that CCCP committee, to replace Tung.

    Now please rate the following pro-democracy “icons” Aung San Suu Kyi, Gandhi and Albert Ho…

  6. Jason says:

    @ PD: Fully agree! A good part of our fellow contributors seems to see the Pro-Democrats responsible for our weird political system.

  7. Sojourner says:

    Spot on, Property Developer and Stephen.

    And although I find Hemlock’s disdain for the Pan-Dems a little bit much at times (especially when accompanied by the Greek Chorus of Bela and RTP coming from the left and the right respectively of the political spectrum), I think he has, unfortunately, a point here, re. Albert Ho and his acolytes.

  8. Mary Hinge says:

    Pre-Dem 9-point Manifesto 101:

    1) End the dollar peg;
    2) End the individual traveller scheme;
    3) End the MPF scheme;
    4) Dismantle the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau;
    5) Spend (yes actually spend) the reserves on recurrent scheme that actually benefit the elderly and underprivileged;
    6) Demolish Disneyland and build decently sized homes;
    7) Turn the West Kowloon Arts-Hub white elephant into a lush, verdant park;
    8) Scrap the HKMZ Bridge;
    9) Phase out committees. Do things instead.

    … and because you won’t get on the ballot in a million years, instruct all who would vote for you to deliberately spoil their ballot papers by striking through the names of the shoe-shiners who will. And if “spoilt ballots” wins the poll, you have the mandate if not the reins …

  9. Mary Hinge says:

    Well, well, well … ‘8’ + ‘)’ = 8)

    Let’s try some more:-

  10. Failed Alchemist says:

    Its not a problem of a one party system, a one party/coalition system dominating politics (like Singapore) or a two party system (even with the inclusion of a Third Voice like the Liberal Democrats) but the crazy made in HK free for all, create new party every month system.

    No, no, not on one side Bela & the other RTP but Regina, Jasper, Elsie, Rita, Fanny, Dreamy Bear Lew etc etc and on the other Albert, James To, Alan Bond Leong, Lee Cheuk Yan, Darling Emily, Wong Yuk Man & drama theater, Crazy Horse with Long Hair and to boot, Paul Zimmerman.

    And holding center stages, the Brothers Tien Karamazov, Fred Fung, Paul Super lawyer Tse etc…

    One thing we learnt from the 5 super seats… Starry Power in ad campaigning & strategy. Pan-Demos are sissys and such a push-over… Imagine Albert asking to sit beside Dear Rosa on the bus let alone trying to drive it…. Hahahaha…

  11. Property Developer says:

    Thanks for the kind comments. Hemlock does have the — very considerable — merit of raising the essential issues, and teasing out the tangled webs of obfuscations, cover-ups, red herrings and barefaced lies that pass for local political debate in a way that shows up the spineless attempts of the “professional” politicians and commentators.

    And it’s true that Albert Ho lacks charisma, the Civics lack street-cred, the LSD lack manners and no-one of the stature or eloquence of Martin Lee has emerged.

    So Hemlock’s constant underlying message, that Peking will never allow any shred of real democracy here, is eminently logical. But I still think that those on the way to the guillotine should shout out their protests.

  12. aghast says:

    I’m with the Pan-Dems

  13. It’s deja vu all over again (patriots who love China and Hong Kong), it’s too early to talk about changing the system etc. etc.

    I do wish that the pan-dems had a better strategy, but they are behind the 8-ball: we’ve had insertion of “democratic elements” into the system that do not change the status quo one iota, but if the dems veto these miniscule changes they are ironically being accused of “hindering democracy” – and if they vote for these miniscule changes, they are “in bed” with those who want to change things at a snail’s pace.

  14. Tiu Fu Fong says:

    Whoever adds “publicise the Hong Kong do not call registry number” to their platform would get my vote.

    I finally found it this weekend.

    Follow the prompts on 1835000 to make your life marginally less frustrating.

  15. Phil McCracken says:

    The political game is rigged. The CCP calls the shots, now and forever, until the “evolution”.

    So what do you old fossils keep yapping about, ad nauseam ? Get a hobby ! How about basket weaving ?

  16. pcatbar says:

    HK is in political development Catch 22. Implacable opposition to Govt reform proposals marginalises the Pan Dems. Cooperation and participation in the process divides progressive groups still further so that it becomes impossible to extract more than Govt would be willing to offer. The only possible way out is to STFU about ‘full democracy’ and get on with trying to fix social/economic policies especially with regard to livelihood/quality of life issues. Perhaps then the ‘opposition’ might be seen to achieve something thus generating support and momentum so that a real difference can be made. Sadly this is most unlikely!

  17. Jason90 says:

    I think George Orwell would have been quite impressed by our Hong Kong murders – it was the rising popularity American Bang Bang you’re dead style murders he was lamenting, a la Pistorius Steenkamp.

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