12th March 2013
<No End to Gerrymandering by 2017, CCP Will Lose HK Forever>
（Original article posted here)
（photo via Flickr)
Since Professor Benny Tai Yiu Ting announced his Occupy Central proposal, the discussion around a fully democratic and representative election process for the legislature and Chief Executive (President) has heated up: Pan-democrats started relevant preparation work, pro-Peking/Communist individuals have also begun to leak “rumours” via different channels to test public feedback. According to the recent comments from pro-(Peking) government groups and based on the CCP’s appalling track record, Hong Kong’s elections in 2017 will undoubtedly be rigged. Relevant parties/departments will sift out opposition candidates via a “nomination committee”, turning the Chief Executive election into a choice between bad, worse and worst. Those in power may pride themselves in stifling Hong Kong’s democratic dreams, but time will show that without a free, fair, and representative election in 2017, Communist China will lose Hong Kong for good.
Prosperity and Stability Only Comes when Democracy and Freedom are in Place
Communist China can only control Hong Kong in one of two ways: (1) Tung Chee Hwa and Donald Tsang style: pro-Peking/Communist indirectly takes over Hong Kong via pro-government elites and pro-Communist powers; (2) CY Leung style: allowing Communist China to take over Hong Kong directly by eliminating all opposition and replacing existing political and commercial systems. Experience shows that the former style, the enormous collusive system of the politicians and businessmen is less effective as the government struggles to mobilise support to resolve deeply rooted conflicts – resulting in public discontent and social unrest. The latter is simply ludicrous: Hong Kong, as a global financial hub, has a few foundations: free flow of information, a sound legal system, and a nominally free media acting as a watchdog and monitoring the government; it is extremely difficult (though by no means impossible, and the present focus of Peking) to subvert Hong Kong’s freedoms to a communist-style central command society. Indeed even if it were possible, without freedoms and rule of law, foreign investors will retreat, and what good does Hong Kong serve to China if it is a ghost town?
Those who are in power do not understand that it is not beneficial to Hong Kongers, nor to Communist China to not have free, fair, and representative elections in Hong Kong. Hong Kong’s greatest value to Communist China is its role as an international financial hub. Communist China is a realist, its golden rule to govern Hong Kong is “stability”. They could not care less if Hong Kongers love China. Stability cannot be achieved by suppressing opposition. The most stable Hong Kong is “an autonomous Hong Kong with democracy, freedoms and rule of law”. With democratic elections, the elected government will have power to resolve economic conflicts in the society and people can express their discontent via the electoral system. This will help Hong Kong to move toward stability and prosperity, the moral and public pressures faced by Communist China will also be reduced. This is, in fact, a win-win situation. Some said, democracy (in Hong Kong) will shake China’s sovereignty and the stability of the regime. The foundation of this theory is ridiculous. There are millions of Communist Party members in China, and the country’s “stabilisation mechanism” is absolutely unrivaled. How could an island with only 7 million people shake the regime?
When there is suppression, there is resistance
On the contrary, if a free, fair, and representative electoral system (for the Chief Executive and Legislative Council) that fulfills international standards is not in place by 2017, people of Hong Kong will engage in complete rebellion, the situation could escalate beyond control very quickly. The logic of this argument is obvious: When suppression intensifies, resistance grows as well. Recently the political environment has become increasingly polarised and combative, and resistance to government measures is growing stronger day by day. As demonstrated by the fact that Professor Benny Tai Yiu Ting, an academic who until recently was seen as conservative, proposed a civil disobedience action (Occupy Central), and the pan-democrats – typically a moderate group – including Hong Kong Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood, have expressed their support for this proposal. Furthermore, under the continuously growing conflicts between Hong Kong and China, local consciousness (a sense of individual Hong Kong identity, as distinct from the Chinese national identity proclaimed by the communist party in Peking) is at its peak. The local consciousness theory has been discussed in the public for over a decade. The people of Hong Kong still harbour a remote hope that Communist China will fulfil its promise for free, fair, and representative elections in Hong Kong (shorthand: universal suffrage, but this is a simplification). If the people of Hong Kong are cheated of this hope, they are likely to take a more aggressive route and to fight for independence, resembling Professor Joseph Lin’s theory of “using independence to fight the venom”. Hence, the day Communist China denies “universal suffrage” in Hong Kong is the day the “Greater China Patriots who support reunion (with China)” fall. Hong Kong independence will soon become the mainstream notion.
Without “universal suffrage”, Communist China will lose Hong Kong on multiple levels. First, being denied free, fair and representative elections will force the people of Hong Kong into a position of complete opposition to Peking, and society will no longer be harmonious (one of the communist party’s central and oft-repeated tenets). Unrest will cause financial markets and inbound investments to fall dramatically, and Communist China will lose Hong Kong on the economic level. Once the people of Hong Kong have become completely disaffected with Communist China, they will turn to seek independence for Hong Kong and to break away from China, Communist China will lose the public of Hong Kong.
Worse, when the people of Hong Kong’s resistance intensifies, they may engage in civil disobedience (for example, occupy the streets, boycott classes, strike), causing the complete shut down of Hong Kong, prohibiting the government from effective governance. By then, even though Communist China may continue to have suzerainty over Hong Kong, Hong Kong will have become a political “hot potato” – which to China will be the same, or perhaps a worse, effect.
Hong Kong’s political system has a number of peculiar characteristics: registered voters (residents above 18 years of age) can vote for their representative in the territory’s Legislative Council (Legco – Hong Kong’s government is unicameral, unlike those of most western democracies with a junior and senior house). These elected members then serve their geographical constituencies and can be re-elected at subsequent elections, or replaced if they fail to please their electorate. Separately, but still sitting within the legislative council, and matching the numbers of representatives of the geographical constituencies at 35:35 are the “functional” constituencies’ representatives. These are elected by special-interest groups in the business community (www.wikipedia.org/wiki/legislative_council_of_hong_kong) who are largely pro-Peking (Hong Kong’s business community has always put its own profits ahead of social good, ever since the first traders settled in Hong Kong, peddling opium in return for silk, tea and porcelain). Since government bills need a simple majority, while private members’ bills need a majority, separately, within 1) the functional and 2) the geographic constituencies, the business lobby holds an effective power to steam-roller government bills into law, and to veto private members’ bills.
To institute a free, fair, and representative electoral process, “functional” constituencies need to be abolished.
Above the Legislative Council sits the Executive Council (Exco) – made up of members invited or ‘appointed” by the Chief Executive. Exco is the equivalent of the US president’s special advisors, but rather different to a “cabinet” in a British-style electoral system in that the cabinet can only be made up of elected parliamentarians, whereas the US president and Hong Kong’s chief executive can nominate whomever they choose to fulfil these roles.
The chief executive (CE) himself is elected by a “closed circle” of 1,200 electors from a shortlist of candidates they themselves have selected. The 1,200 electors are themselves elected from within the functional constituencies (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Election_Committee) with additional members from religious groups and about 8% nominated directly or indirectly by Peking. Thus Hong Kong’s “democracy” is set up cynically to disenfranchise its people.
To institute a free, fair and representative electoral process, the “closed circle” voting system needs to be abolished, as does the pre-selection process, such that anyone can stand on his or her own merits, and be elected on a first-past-the-post one-man-one-vote “universal suffrage” model.
Both of these necessary pre-requisites for free, fair and representative elections have been moving in reverse over the past ten years with more functional constituencies being added to the legislative council, and more electors being added to the “closed pool” CE election committee.