(Letter to Hong Kong, 8th July, 2012)
Last Sunday was the 15th
anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong SAR. But while there were
fireworks over the Victoria Harbour celebrating Handover Day, there were a few
hundred thousand people still marching in the street calling for the stepping
down of CY Leung. That must be a record for any “elected” leader of any
community to be so humiliated on the first day of office.
is celebration and demonstration marking this most
important day in the history of Hong Kong at the same time, is more than just an irony here.
The debate is not whether there were 400,000 people in the streets, or just
over 100,000 as some academic claimed; but what such an unprecedentedly unpopular
Chief Executive will do to an already fragile and apprehensive community. Just
ask any man in the street.What he will
tell you is that the new Chief Executive will herald the coming of Article 23 legislation,
the complete breakdown of relationship between the executive and the
legislature, and the erosion of all the core values of Hong Kong such as the
Rule of Law, Press Freedom, Freedom of speech, of demonstration and of the
person. You may say there is no proof of that. But the perception is there. And
perception is two-thirds of the truth in politics.
But some will tell you
it is not all perception. Relation with LegCo is indeed at an all time low.
Even before he took office, Mr. Leung tried to ram his government restructure
proposal through LegCo without proper consultation or much supporting
information. He refused to talk to the Pan Democrats and did not name any of
them to his cabinet lineup. And right after the Great March on the First of
July where 400,000 took to the streets, what did he do? Instead of immediately
start working with LegCo to deal with the demands of those who took to the
streets, he went to "consult" the public by going to the districts.
This is as insulting to LegCo as it is pretentious. All the demands of the
people who joined the March were long the demands of LegCo. And in any event,
what district community in Hong Kong is more representative than
LegCo? Furthermore, these events are all staged with the help of pro-government
parties. But even then, such events were marred by protesters disrupting
proceedings. So who will be fooled by such pretensions? Very few, no doubt.
Nor can the writings on
the wall be ignored. Press freedom indeed is diminishing. When state
leaders come to Hong Kong, the press is being treated as lepers. They are being
pushed to places as far from the leaders as possible and any questions touching
sensitive issues such as June 4th will be met with immediate false arrest. Press
cameras can be blocked by police whenever they like. Government Information
Service no longer dishes out information regularly and fairly to all. Instead,
Government prefers to release information to "friendly" newspapers in
couched terms. Even the Central Policy Unit is now headed by an ex-executive of
a leftwing think tank.
Freedom of expression is
going from bad to worse. When it comes to the Central Government or the Liaison
Office, anything near a criticism is strict taboo. Wearing a June 4th T-shirt
in the vicinity of a state leader can be an unspeakable crime. Students can be
false imprisoned on
their own campus. Demonstrations are now near pointless as demonstrators are
being exiled to places where their presence or voices can never be seen or
heard. It is almost like we are living over the border. It is almost like Mr.
Leung is heralding the arrival of a repressive regime.
So how can you blame
the people for feeling unrest? Or being apprehensive? How can they trust Mr.
Leung? Although most are convinced that the feeling is mutual. It is not openly
said. But the actions of Mr. Leung speak volumes. But why is it that the people
of Hong Kong cannot be trusted? Why cannot the Pan Democrats be trusted? From
the point of view of most people, this is a paranoia
few can understand. Why fear democracy? Or human rights? Or freedoms?
It is said that the
best way to remove distrust is to communicate. But Mr. Leung and LegCo, in
particular, the Pan Democrats are not speaking to each other. In fact, he did his
utmost to avoid speaking to the Pan Democrats during his election. And there is
all the more no reason to speak to the Pan Democrats after the election. The
sound of silence is stunning. And this failure of
well prove to be the most destructive force in the complete breakdown of the
One Country, Two Systems.