4th January, 2014
Hong Kongers Should Stop Doing the Same Thing Over and Over Again
Failure is not the issue, as long as we face the reality, learn from our failure and turn failure into success. However, failing to face the reality could only lead to eternal failure.
On the article published on New Year’s day, I forecast that the number of people participating the New Year’s Day demonstration would be limited, but I did not expect such an appalling turnout. Multiple pan-democrats think that the low turnout was due to the lack of substantial “theme” and that universal suffrage issue has not reached a critical point. Some of them said that in the past decade of New Year’s Day demonstrations, only 2004 and 2013 saw over 100,000 people took it to the street, hence having 30,000 people this year is merely “returning to the norm”. Some said that New Year’s Day is not a “peak season” for demonstration (is there such thing called “peak season” for demonstration?). These are merely self consolations.
When commenting on the “Vote for You” campaign on universal suffrage held on the day of the march, pan-democrats emphasised that the result shows that over 90% of the people support true universal suffrage, but they deliberately disregard the fact that the number of participants was only 62,000 – not even 1% of Hong Kong population. The number is even smaller than the 580,000 voters who participated in the 2009 by-election, and also lower than the 220,000 voters who participated in the mock Chief Executive election in 2012 of which the server was attacked by hackers.
The reason for the low turnout in this year’s march is not because of the lack of theme. CY Leung’s lack of achievement since he took office a little over a year ago, China’s push for a screening mechanism for the future universal suffrage, and the ever falling popularity of Leung should be sufficient enough to call for a large scale march.
The latest theme, and a topic very close to the public’s heart, is the recent Court of Final Appeal’s ruling on relaxing the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) Scheme application criteria (new immigrants from China can apply for CSSA one year after they move to Hong Kong instead of seven years). The public is not angry at the Court’s ruling: there are loopholes in the Basic Law in regards to the definition of “residents”, a ruling based on law is justice and the people of Hong Kong cherish Hong Kong’s judicial independence; the public does not blame the new immigrants completely – after all, selfishness is only human nature. In the eyes of the netizens, the culprits are Society for Community Organisation (SoCO), Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), and especially Richard Tsoi Yiu-cheong, the Vice Chairman of Democratic Party. To file a judicial review is a political decision, those who respect the legal system would accept the Court of Final Appeal’s ruling. However, is a legally grounded ruling always reasonable? Many Hong Kongers find this ruling unreasonable: in any country or region in this world, including China, the local citizens and permanent residents have priorities when it comes to social welfare. Any where in the world, even a new immigrant wishes to reunite with his/her family, he/she will have to file an application and undergo asset valuation process. For Hong Kongers to apply for their spouses from outside China (including Taiwan) to move to Hong Kong, their spouses have to undergo asset valuations as well – the only exception applies to (Mainland) Chinese immigrants: their applications are not through their Hong Kong relatives/families and they do not have to undergo any asset valuations (the Hong Kong SAR government cannot do so in any case). Such an unreasonably relaxed immigration policy does not even exist between different China provinces. Joseph Wong Wing-ping, former Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology, wrote an article recently which entitled “One-Way-Permit System has to Change – Restriction on CSSA is Perfectly Justified”. He quoted Mencius’ saying “Honour the aged of other family as we honour our own; Care for the children of other family as we care for our own” and explained that even in an ideal world, one must look after one’s own before taking care of others. At the moment, Hong Kongers have to undergo financial test if they wish to apply for CSSA, but the HKSAR government cannot carry out such test on Chinese immigrants (their assets are located in China, hence the HKSAR Government cannot carry out any assessment if the applicants do not disclose voluntarily). This is not the same as abandoning one’s own child in order to look after other’s children – completely against any common sense and overturn a reasonable system that put priorities on a society’s own people.
The one social problem (theme) that the general public concerns most is directly caused by the organisers of this year’s New Year’s march. It is not surprising to see the low turnout!
My article published on the New Year’s Day “We Shall Not Demonstrate Our Weakness in Demonstration” called for the people to join the march. Jacky Lim Hung-tat, a commentator who regularly publishes his articles in Apple Daily, left this comment, “I am not going to the march today. Instead of calling this march ‘a demonstration of weakness’, we should make it clear that Civil Human Rights Front does not only demonstrate their weakness in all these years of demonstrations, but wastes the strength of the public throughout all these years!” Other comments also echoed to Lim’s comment, “As long as Jackie Hung Ling-yu (and the like) continuous to monopolise a demonstration, it is merely a demonstration of weakness”, “if there are a lot of people took it to the street today, this can only mean the Democratic Party will continue to dominate the pan-democratic space and win in future elections.” Those who said they would join the march, “I want to see how much the public dislike Jackie Hung Ling-yu and Raymond Tsoi Yiu-cheung”
On the day of the protest, Raymond Tsoi was surrounded by the “anti-sinicisation” protesters. From YouTube videos, the protesters were shouting “traitor of Hong Kong” but not “traitor of China”.
Joseph Wong emphasised in his article that, “we must not underestimate political impact caused by the Court of Final Appeal’s ruling.” The New Year’s Day protest has already shown the tip of the impact.
A commentator who uses the pseudonym Butterfly, sent me a message on Facebook, “I always respect the people who participate in protests and dare to fight, and would never discourage them. This is simply because I had been there before. However, I am determined never to participate in activities that are led by CHRF, Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, and Democratic Party (HKASPDMC) – this is because I am a person of principle. Principle is our sole foundation when it comes to determining the right from wrong on issues of major importance (particularly politically). I despise CHRF, HKASPDMC and Democratic Party… I am endorsing these organisations by participating in rallies they organise. Hong Kongers should stop endorsing their meaningless activities or their betrayals in the hope that things will change for the better in the future (e.g. we should not vote to a politician who claim to support democracy but participate in an undemocratic election that he/she helped create*). We have to live our lives with dignity, otherwise we shall never be taken seriously. If the people of Hong Kong are not willing to sacrifice more but only willing to participate the ‘box standard CHRF protests’, I assure you that democracy and universal suffrage will never be achieved in Hong Kong.”
Butterfly also said in the message that a quote by Albert Einstein reminded her of Hong Kongers: “Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results”.
I was shocked to read this line. Perhaps we, Hong Kongers, should begin to do something else.
By Lee Yee – Public Affairs Commentator
This point is particularly difficult to translate given the substantial reference to various incidents Democratic Party took part in. The editor of this piece took the liberty to interpret this sentence in order to help non-Cantonese readers to understand the context.