Saturday, June 26, 2010

Divide & Conquer: Beijing Scores

Hong Kong has finally passed a reform package that will take it towards a more byzantine-style democracy, Beijing style, by...oh, maybe 2020. This means, according to veteran activist and Democratic Party founder Martin Lee, turning a tiny cadre of selected "special" people responsible for choosing our dear leader, into a slightly less smaller one. In other words, democracy with Chinese characteristics.

For over ten years the Hong Kong democratic movement has been united in its commitment to obtaining universal suffrage. Beijing has tried everything in its power, including the politics of vilification, vandalism directed at the offices of individual democrats and even violence to thwart the dems and try to split their ranks. Nothing worked and local support has remained strong. Beijing finally gave up and recently reached out to the Democratic Party, the largest and oldest group that makes up the so-called pan-democrats, which also includes the Civic Party and the League of Social Democrats (LSD!). These two parties bitterly opposed the DP's decision and now an internecine battle is erupting among them. Long Hair, longtime democracy advocate and one of Beijing's harshest critics, turned his fire on one of the grandfathers of Hong Kong's democracy movement, Szeto Wah, who is fighting cancer. Long Hair called him "guiltless" and said he has "cancer in the brain" for urging his Democratic Party colleagues to support the reforms. Beijing's strategy, so far, is paying off.

Beijing might also win over some skeptics by appearing to compromise, albeit ever so slightly, on their package by incorporating some of the DP's suggestions. On Friday, LSD legislator Albert Chan Wai-yip yelled out in the legislative chamber:
“Today is the darkest day for democracy in Hong Kong. Functional constituencies’ seats will last forever!”
These "functional constituencies" belong to a privileged few who are "elected" by special interests to "choose" Hong Kong's leader. The current package expands them, but doesn't eliminate them, which is the problem. After the legislature endorsed the reform package, Democratic Party chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan told reporters a new political era for Hong Kong had begun.

Ho said:
“We will continue to do our best to fight for universal suffrage...and the abolition of functional constituencies."
But now that he appears to have kowtowed to Beijing, he and his venerated party risk being rejected by a large section of Hong Kong society who views the DP as sell-outs. It's that age-old debate - fight the system from within and risk getting swallowed or continue the battle from outside and risk irrelevancy.


  1. 在莫非定律中有項笨蛋定律:「一個組織中的笨蛋,恆大於等於三分之二。」......................................................................