Establishment camp to see internal battle on new poll candidates

EJ Insight》

by Yu Kam-yin / Yesterday, 17:28Vincent Cheng (center), who won the Kowloon West  contest in last Sunday’s Legco by-elections, waves to supporters along with DAB party chairperson Starry Lee (fourth from left). Photo: HKEJ

Vincent Cheng (center), who won the Kowloon West contest in last Sunday’s Legco by-elections, waves to supporters along with DAB party chairperson Starry Lee (fourth from left). Photo: HKEJ

Following the Legislative Council by-elections, members of the pro-establishment camp have started drawing conclusions about how Vincent Cheng Wing-shun of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) was able to overcome enormous odds and defeat the pan-democrat candidate Edward Yiu Chung-yim in the Kowloon West constituency.

According to the analysis of some in the pro-establishment camp, apart from the massive material and manpower support provided by the DAB and other pro-Beijing groups, a major factor behind Cheng’s surprise victory was that his rival Yiu may have relied too much on internet campaign and neglected some of the conventional campaign methods such as visiting the communities in person and making door-to-door visits.

Besides, they explained, Yiu — perhaps on the advice of his de facto campaign manager Eddie Chu Hoi-dick –adopted an “austere and thrifty” approach to campaigning, and put up very few campaign banners on the streets.

Worse still, apart from their scarcity, Yiu’s banners were either already used before or non-descript, hence his failure to draw the attention of grass-roots or middle-class voters, who had got accustomed to conventional campaign techniques.

Meanwhile, it appears leaders of the pro-establishment camp haven’t let their victory last Sunday go to their heads, and are already setting their sights on the next by-elections, also in Kowloon West and New Territories East. 

While it remains to be seen whether the pan-dems will make the ousted “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung and Lau Siu-lai run again, the pro-establishment camp expects more difficulty in coordinating the campaign efforts in the upcoming polls.

It is because Cheng’s triumph would almost certainly inspire a lot more potential hopefuls in the camp to compete for candidacy for the upcoming race, and leaders of the pro-establishment parties would probably have their work cut out for them trying to hammer out their final list of candidates.

Nevertheless, since the DAB already dominated the by-elections on Sunday in both Kowloon West and New Territories East, some in the pro-Beijing camp believe that the DAB is likely to take a backseat in the next race and allow other pro-establishment blocs to run.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on March 13

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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GRAY SERGEANT: PM’s Visit to China – One conversation about Hong Kong is not enough to fulfil British obligations

by Gray Sergeant / Yesterday, 22:07

Human rights advocates should welcome Theresa May’s promise to raise Hong Kong’s political situation with her Chinese counterparts but should not be complacent.

theresa-may-xi-jinping-reuters_650x400_81517557019.jpgHuman rights contribute to economic prosperity. China’s economic relationship with Britain will flourish best if China develop an international reputation for respecting human rights and rule of law, and so Theresa May promised to have “frank discussions” with Beijing, while also seeking new economic opportunities for Britain in China. Upon arriving in China, she told the press that she would raise the issue of Hong Kong with President Xi Jinping himself.

In part, the media, human rights organisations and vocal politicians who have stood up for Hong Kong’s freedoms and democracy can take credit for this. In recent days Mrs May must have felt some domestic pressure to raise democracy in Hong Kong with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Now the pressure must continue. Discussions on Hong Kong cannot be raised and quickly swept to one side. This should not be another forum for Britain to raise a number of human rights concerns only to have them ignored or dismissed as matters of Beijing’s internal affairs. Such remarks, and the use of economic statistics to hide behind, are commonplace CCP tactics. Previously, the UK-China Human Rights Dialogues have been criticised for lacking results. Let’s hope leader to leader talks do not follow suit.

Of course, this is the problem with private talks, while they are useful diplomatically, it’s hard to hold politicians to account.  

We hope that the Prime Minister was brave while dining with Xi and that there was no backsliding or complacency.

Getting Beijing to acknowledge the relevance of the Joint Declaration should not be seen as a big win but rather as a bare minimum expectation. The treaty is legally binding and lodged at the United Nations not a historical piece of paper, as the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed last year.

Going forward it is important that Britain pressures Beijing to honour the spirit of the agreement and urges China to push forward with democratic reform in Hong Kong.

Recent events, including the disqualifications ahead of the March by-elections, shows why Britain speaking out is so important.

Yet this is only the start of it. May’s promise to raise Hong Kong should become the norm. No Prime Minister or Foreign Secretary should be able to travel to China without discussing the situation in the Special Administrative Region, either publically or privately. When there is progress, that should be a topic of celebration, and if there is further regression then that must be discussed. 

Let’s hope that in future years, when the British Prime Minister next visits China, that Hong Kong will be even higher up the UK government’s political agenda.

Gray Sergeant is a trustee of Hong Kong Watch


The special by-election to replace four of six empty seats in Hong Kong’s Legislative Council (LegCo) is scheduled for March 11. But unless the government does a speedy rethink, one name will not be on the candidate lists. Agnes Chow Ting was the choice of all the main pro-democracy parties. They agreed in advance that she should contest the election on their behalf in the Hong Kong Island constituency, so much so that the primary selection contest they organized in two other constituencies on January 14, was not necessary in this one (Jan. 22, 2018 post).

As the Monday January 29 deadline for nominations approached, however, word began circulating among local journalists covering the story that two pro-democracy candidates were going to be DQ … disqualified and barred from contesting the March 11 by-election. One was Agnes Chow. The other was Edward Yiu Chung-yim, who won the January primary selection contest for the Kowloon West constituency. The other two pro-democracy candidates … Gary Fan Kwok-wai in New Territories East and Paul Zimmerman in the Architects/Surveyors Functional Constituency … have passed the “entrance gate” with their candidacies approved by Hong Kong’s Electoral Affairs Commission.

The six vacant LegCo seats are the product of the oath-taking saga. Two legislators are still appealing their disqualification with final judgements yet to be handed down. By-elections for those two seats will be held at a later date if necessary. This all began in October 2016, when a total of 15 newly-elected Legislative Councilors embellished their oaths-of-office during the swearing-in ceremony. This provoked Beijing officials and a month later, in November, the central government issued an Interpretation of Hong Kong’s Basic law constitution, Article 104 on oath-taking. The Interpretation mandated proper oath-taking under pain of immediate disqualification. No second chances.

Hong Kong courts then selectively and retroactively disqualified six of the legislators. Why only six were singled out has not been adequately explained. Nor have the awkward retroactive judgements disqualifying the six (Sept. 6, 2017 post).  Many appeals have sought redress on the selective and retroactive grounds but to no avail, although two appeals are still pending.


The official reason for rejecting her candidacy is political: because she is an advocate of self-determination. This is one of the new advocacies to emerge in Hong Kong along with independence, city-state autonomy, genuine autonomy, and so on. Beijing lumps them all into a single category, excoriated in mainland parlance as the political crime of “separatism.”

Hong Kong was promised freedom of expression as part of its new post-colonial “one-country, two-systems” governing principle and separatism is not a crime here, although it may be if Beijing gets its way and Basic Law Article 23 legislation on national political security is finally passed. But with the new restrictive vetting system introduced ahead of the September 2016 LegCo election, such freedom already does not extend to separatist ideas in this context. In other words, they are not allowed for aspiring LegCo candidates (Aug. 3, 2016 post).

Agnes Chow is an advocate of self-determination because she is a member of Demosisto, the new political party, successor to the middle school activists group Scholarism. Both groups were founded by Joshua Wong and other like-minded young people. Chow made her name as the bilingual spokesperson for Scholarism, when they launched their successful 2012 campaign against the government’s plan to introduce compulsory political education for all primary and secondary school students.

Demosisto’s party manifesto does call for Hong Kong self-determination. But the party, which was founded in April 2016, stands out among other new youth groups since it has been careful not to jump uncritically on the independence and localist bandwagons that have gained momentum in recent years. This trend began earlier but can be traced especially to Beijing’s final 2014-15 refusal to allow “genuine” universal suffrage elections here as had long been promised. That refusal is also what transformed Benny Tai’s Occupy Central civil disobedience campaign into the Umbrella-Occupy movement street blockades that closed down major traffic arteries for 79 days in the fall of 2014.

Demosisto’s political stance is actually much like the original liberal assumptions back at the beginning, in the 1990s, when everyone just assumed that Hong Kong’s new Basic Law constitution meant what its words said about universal suffrage elections, autonomy, freedom of expression, and so on. It follows that Agnes Chow has no problem with declaring her allegiance and loyalty simultaneously to the central government and to Hong Kong’s official one-country, two-systems status within the People’s Republic. Unlike a few others of her generation, she also had no qualms about signing the new loyalty oath confirmation form introduced in 2016, confirming such allegiances.

The government officials who make these candidate qualification decisions are called returning officers who are part of the Electoral Affairs Commission. It may be an independent body but it is also meticulously following Beijing’s current definitions of the words and concepts in question. Agnes Chow’s returning officer disqualified her on grounds that Chow is a leading member of Demosisto, which advocates self-determination.

As proof, the returning officer cited the party’s website and an article published in the Chinese-language newspaper Ming Pao on June 27, 2016, on the party’s plans for a movement to achieve self-determination. The plans include a referendum to be held in due course whereby the people of Hong Kong would be asked what form of government they would prefer when the Basic Law’s as yet undefined 50-year shelf-life expires. One of the options the party promised to include was independence. The officer held that as a founding member of Demosisto, Chow gave every indication that she supported the party’s goals. The officer therefore concluded that, from all Chow’s public statements, she definitely does not support Hong Kong’s Basic Law or respect the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (Apple Daily, Jan. 28).

It might also be relevant that Demosisto’s websites contained some negative views about Beijing. For example, the English version still says: “Demosisto aims to achieve democratic self-determination in Hong Kong. Through direct action, popular referenda, and non-violent means, we push for the city’s political and economic autonomy from the oppression of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and capitalist hegemony.”  The Chinese website has recently been toned down by deleting its most provocative statements (South China Morning Post, Jan. 30).

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung, who is Number Two in the Hong Kong government hierarchy, made a statement supporting the decision. He said all the returning officers “have all along strictly adhered to the Basic law, relevant legislation and legal advice, as well as the principles of political neutrality and impartiality … ”
Cheung continued: “Let me stress that ‘self-determination’ or changing the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region system by referendum which includes the choice of independence is totally inconsistent with the constitutional and legal status of the Hong Kong Special Administration as stipulated clearly in the Basic Law, as well as the established basic policies of the People’s Republic of China regarding Hong Kong. Upholding the Basic Law is a basic legal duty of a legislator. If a person advocates or promotes self-determination or independence by any means, he or she cannot possibly uphold the Basic Law or fulfil his or her duties as a LegCo member.” He went on to say that if anyone didn’t like the decision they could appeal through the courts (govt. press release, Jan. 27).


By late afternoon Friday, January 26, the word had begun circulating among journalists that two prospective pro-democracy candidates, Agnes Chow and Edward Yiu, were both going to be disqualified. This verdict remained unchanged throughout the weekend but by Monday morning, January 29, the day nominations closed, officials were evidently having second thoughts. Pro-establishment opinion leaders had been expressing reservations about the political wisdom of banning any of the pro-democracy candidates. And former democrat Ronny Tong, now a member of the Chief Executive’s Executive Council and the new chief bell weather on such controversial political matters, was saying that he could see no grounds on which Edward Yiu could be banned (SCMP, Jan. 29).

Finally, just before the nomination period closed on January 29, and with an under-study back-up candidate standing by to submit his nomination application form just in case, Edward Yiu received notice that his candidacy had been officially approved.

Unlike Agnes Chow, few people had ever heard of Edward Yiu until he scored an upset victory in the 2016 LegCo election. This he did by winning the obscure architects/surveyors Functional Constituency seat.  As an academic rather than a practioner, he only accomplished this feat because the conservative pro-establishment professionals in this sector split their votes between two other candidates.

Edward Yiu’s problems began when he embellished his oath in a modest manner during the October 2016 swearing-in ceremony. He then found himself among the six new legislators selectively targeted by the government. Two of the six had been immediately bared from taking their seats. But Edward Yiu was one of those who were initially allowed to retake their oaths, which he had done properly, after which they all took their seats in the normal fashion. He had served as a legislator for several months but was one of the four who were later singled out by the government for improper oath-taking. All six were formally and retroactively disqualified by the Hong Kong courts for having violated the letter of Beijing’s November 2016 Interpretation of Hong Kong’s Basic Law Article 104, on oath-taking (July 20, 2017post).

Rather than try to regain his specialized Functional Constituency seat through the appeals process, or via the March 11 by-election, Yiu decided to try for one of the popularly-elected Geographic Constituency seats. This led to his victory in the democrats’ January 14 preliminary selection contest for the vacancy in Kowloon West (Jan 22 post).

While he was waiting for word from the Electoral Affairs Commission about his candidacy last weekend, Edward Yiu had some interesting stories to share with the journalists who were waiting with him. His stories revealed something about how the mysterious anonymous individuals known as returning officers go about their work. The officer assigned to vet Kowloon West candidates requested that Yiu answer several questions. One concerned a statement he had allegedly made about Hong Kongers deciding their own fate. Yiu said he had never made any such statement.

The officer also wanted to know about Edward Yiu’s recent trip to Taiwan along with Joshua Wong and others. The returning officer wanted to know what Yiu thought about the New Power Party, a Taiwanese group that advocates Taiwan independence and had hosted the Hong Kong visitors. Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing press had taken great interest in the trip and ran full page stories on the visit featuring photographs of Yiu and Joshua Wong (Ta Kung Pao, Nov. 16, 2017). The officer wanted to know if Yiu supported a similar independent stance for Hong Kong. The officer also noted that Yiu had repeatedly criticized Beijing’s November 2016 Interpretation on oath-taking and wanted know whether or not Yiu accepts it (StandardMing Pao, Jan. 29).


These two cases featuring fallout from the oath-taking saga lie at the heart of Hong Kong’s one-country, two systems relationship with Beijing. They also illustrate just how difficult managing the interface between the two systems has become. The principal front-line actors in this saga are Hong Kong’s judges and the electoral returning officers. They and everyone speaking for them are at pains to emphasize their independence. But it’s also obvious that they are bending over backwards to fulfill what they think are the central government’s political demands. The question Hong Kongers keep asking, in many different ways, is whether it’s really necessary to bend back quite so far.

The decisions and explanations from the judges and officers call to mind the old saying about religious converts. They become sticklers with respect to all the rules about fasting and abstinence and Holy Day observations … whereas everyone else knows how to cut a few corners and still remain within the ranks of the faithful.

Evidently, from all anyone has been willing to admit, no one in Hong Kong’s Justice Department ever asked Beijing if its November 2016 Interpretation on oath-taking was meant to be applied retroactively and to become “what the law has always been” dating back to July 1, 1997. The judges were evidently following their own common law precedents on the interpretation of laws. But having made that initial decision, they are now compounding the consequences many times over by retroactively disqualifying every oath-taking case that comes before them regardless of the extenuating circumstances.

Similarly, Hong Kong’s returning officers must now be assuming their job is to serve as political thought interrogators and assess the meaning of every word uttered by prospective candidates. Nor do Hong Kong’s returning officers seem inclined to question Beijing’s conflation of all “separatist” advocacies into a single common subversive category. But is it really necessary for Hong Kongers to accept Beijing’s rigid definition of such diverse concepts as self-determination and autonomy when those ideas are open to so wide a range of meanings and practical applications?

Back in 1997, everyone thought Hong Kong officials and judges would be standing on the front-line, along the interface between the two systems, serving to arbitrate and mediate and moderate the inevitable contradictions. Instead, these oath-taking and candidate qualification decisions have compounded the contradictions as one precedent weighs upon another and Edward Yiu was left alone to dismantle the case that was being built against him. Lucky for his candidacy, political common sense prevailed but it seems to have been an arbitrary decision that saved him in light of the backlash the disqualification cases are causing both in Hong Kong and elsewhere. At least someone realized that it is possible to cut rigid corners and still remain among the ranks of the faithful.

Posted by Suzanne Pepper on January 30, 2018

The post THE DISQUALIFICATION OF AGNES CHOW … and Edward Yiu’s Reprieve appeared first on Hong Kong Focus.

Why was Agnes Chow disqualified and Edward Yiu allowed to run?

by SC Yeung / Yesterday, 13:15

Article 26 of the Basic Law expressly provides that “permanent residents of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall have the right to vote and the right to stand for election in accordance with law”.

Following the disqualification of Agnes Chow, one of the founders and a standing committee member of the youth activist group Demosistō, from running in the upcoming Legislative Council by-elections, we now know even more clearly – as it has been presented ever so crudely – that the government could always interpret and invoke that phrase “in accordance with law” to overturn the very essence of that provision in our mini-constitution to suit its needs. The government is the law.

Chow has met all the requirements to run for the vacant Legco seat in the Hong Kong Island constituency. She has renounced her British citizenship and she was ready to sign the form declaring that she will uphold the Basic Law and she understands that Hong Kong is an inalienable part of China and a local administrative region of China.

But apparently, that is not enough. The returning officer has rejected her candidacy, stressing that Chow is incapable of observing China’s sovereignty over Hong Kong because her party advocates self-determination.

The officer made the decision based on her own judgment. Chow was not given the chance to clarify her position or dispute the officer’s allegation as contained in the letter notifying her of her disqualification.

The officer’s action should serve as a warning to Hongkongers who, although they have no clear political stance, want to live in a free and democratic society.

The officer has shown that the government has the right to judge one’s political beliefs based on its own judgment, and not on facts or evidence presented by the prospective candidate. The decision is nothing else but a barefaced political censorship, made in accordance with the wishes of the HKSAR government and the central authorities.

On Monday afternoon members of the legal sub-sector of the Chief Executive Election Committee blasted the authorities’ decision to bar Chow from the upcoming polls, saying the move has infringed on her fundamental rights guaranteed by the Basic Law.

In a joint statement signed by 30 prominent legal figures, including Senior Counsels Philip Dykes, Alan Leong and Hectar Pun, the group said the right to stand for election is a “fundamental right enshrined in Article 26 of the Basic Law of the HKSAR as well as Article 21 of the Hong Kong Bill of Rights”. The United Nations Human Rights Committee has made it clear that people hoping to stand for election should not be excluded by reason of political affiliation or political opinion.

The decision to bar Chow was “unreasonable, unlawful and unconstitutional”, it said, adding that the administration finds the political views of her Demosistō party unacceptable.

Only hours after the statement was issued, the government approved Edward Yiu’s candidacy for a Legco seat in the Kowloon West constituency. 

The decision came as a surprise because Yiu had earlier been disqualified from Legco after his oath of office was declared invalid, and many in the pro-Beijing camp believed that he would be disqualified from running again for a seat in the legislature’s current term of office.

But Yiu, unlike Chow, was given a chance to clarify his political stance and thus was able to avoid being disqualified. 

The decision only proves that the government is engaged in a political censorship, and its decisions are based on its own judgment, regardless of the facts.

Many people are wondering why this is so. Most likely, that’s because Chow is a key member of Demosistō, and the pro-democracy party was co-founded by Joshua Wong and Nathan Law, the two key leaders of the Occupy Movement of 2014.

Demosistō’s background is enough reason for the authorities to disqualify Chow without giving her an opportunity to explain her political beliefs as Yiu was able to do.

The government wants to deprive Demosistō of any chance to use Legco to consolidate its forces and boost its influence.

Now if members of Demosistō are not allowed to stand in any election, the next question is whether the pro-democracy party, in the eyes of the authorities, is an illegal organization as alleged by some pro-Beijing lawmakers.

What will be the government’s next step? Take action against Demosistō?

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Now hiring – Monocle

Now hiring

Image: Justin Chin/Getty Images

Christmas came early in Hong Kong when the city’s unpopular leader CY Leung announced earlier this month that he will not be seeking reappointment as chief executive in March. The shock decision caught both sides of Hong Kong’s increasingly fractious political divide off guard: pro-democrats have lost their favourite pantomime villain and the entire purpose of their “ABC” (anyone but CY) campaign; and senior establishment figures are revising retirement plans and reassessing their suitability for the top job. The current favourite is long-serving finance secretary John Tsang, who has resigned in preparation for launching his candidacy. Beijing is waiting to reveal its pick of the candidates but as a divided Hong Kong looks forward to a new leader in the new year, the whole city is hoping that it’s not another turkey.

Food trucks to hit the road on February 2

The food truck operators were selected after a copok off contest judged by experts. File photo: Courtesy of the ISD

The food truck operators were selected after a copok off contest judged by experts. File photo: Courtesy of the ISD

A total of eight food trucks will start operating at popular tourist spots from February 2. 

The government had picked 16 winners after a cook-off competition earlier this year to operate the food trucks under a two-year pilot programme. 

The Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Greg So said the other eight food trucks will also come into operation later that month.

He said the government will soon introduce mobile apps to help tourists and citizens locate the food trucks. 

The government says the scheme aims to add fun and vibrancy to Hong Kong dining scene and showcase the standard of food hygiene and safety in Hong Kong.

The scheme is the brainchild of the Financial Secretary, John Tsang, who announced proposals for food trucks in his budget last year. The Tourism Commission was then tasked with conducting a study and devising the scheme.

Eight venues have been designated for the food trucks. They are: the Golden Bauhinia Square in Wan Chai; the Central Harbourfront Event Space; the area outside Ocean Park; Salisbury Garden and the Art Square in Tsim Sha Tsui; Energizing Kowloon East Venue 1; Wong Tai Sin Square next to the Wong Tai Sin Temple; and the area outside Hong Kong Disneyland.

Each venue will provide two parking spaces. This means that 16 food trucks will operate at the locations on a rotational basis under the Pilot Scheme.

2 policemen charged over information leak on murder case

EJ Insight » Hong Kong

The ICAC said the defendants leaked information on police evidence in a murder case in exchange for money. Photos: HKEJ

The ICAC said the defendants leaked information on police evidence in a murder case in exchange for money. Photos: HKEJ

Today, 13:26

Two police officers are facing charges of misconduct for allegedly leaking information on a murder case in exchange for money, news website reports.

Sergeant Yip Kwok-leung, 50, from the Kowloon City District Office, and Constable Li Yuen-fook, 47, from the Tin Shui Wai District Office, were found to have accessed files of the case without justifiable reason from Oct. 8, 2014 to June 7, 2015, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) said.

The information was said to have been relayed to the owner of an engineering firm, surnamed Hung, who was also charged with aiding and abetting misconduct by public duty officers.

The case is set to commence trial on Thursday at the Kowloon City Magistrates’ Courts, with the three accused currently on bail, Sing Tao Daily reported.

According to the ICAC, the two police officers were fully aware that Hung would disclose the information to a suspect in the murder case.

The two even discussed between themselves the evidence in the case in order to make suggestions on how the suspect should respond during the police investigation.

The case was about a fight between two gangs inside an underground bar at Katherine Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui on Oct. 5, 2014.

One man died from stab wounds in the incident, and two others were injured.

Two suspects surnamed Wong and Tang, both 22 years old, were arrested in Lok Ma Chau after the incident.

Eventually, only Tang was prosecuted, and the prosecution dropped the case in January last year after considering the evidence.

According to police sources, the two officers have been suspended from their duties.

Police have refused to comment on the case, saying it was now under judicial consideration.

They stressed the police force has zero tolerance for corruption.

According to government records, Constable Li was awarded the Long Service Medal in July 2007. At the time he was a senior constable.

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How will China redefine democracy in Hong Kong and why?

EJ Insight » Hong Kong

by SC Yeung / Today, 12:01

The Election Committee sub-sector election finished last week and a 1,200-member panel is in place to pick Hong Kong’s next chief executive in March.

But the waiting game has just begun. Everything is up in the air as Beijing weighs up its preferred candidate.

Meanwhile, only two among a number of potential aspirants have come forward with their respective candidacies.

What’s holding things up? 

Earlier this week, Hong Kong’s first chief executive, Tung Chee-hwa, warned that a competitive election could trigger conflict between various groups, races or religion and lead to confrontation between the rich and the poor.

He said clashes are inevitable in the absence of a shared conviction and sense of national identity.

“We have no intention to deny the importance of democracy, but when we take competitive elections as a key part of, or even the only measurement for, democracy, the judgment itself will undoubtedly be an erroneous one,” Tung told a forum organised by his Our Hong Kong Foundation.

Tung also criticised western-style democracy and efforts to promote Chinese-style consultative democracy.

Under the current regime, top leaders foster public consensus via a system of consultative conferences. Tung said the Chinese government achieved more than other emerging economies that follow the western democracy model such as India.

From Beijing’s perspective, the government should enable its people to have a stable, comfortable and prosperous life.

However, it seems that China is still far from achieving those goals.

Social unrest in local cities has been reported frequently after local governments ignored people’s voices such as those calling for infrastructure development.

If consultative democracy worked in China, what explains the outbreak of social unrest in the past few years?

And why did Tung give the comment just three months before the chief executive election?

It’s a fact that Hong Kong has yet to become a fully democratic entity given that the legislature and its leaders are not selected by way of one person one vote.

But that doesn’t mean Hong Kong people do not deserve the right to pick their own leaders.

While Tung blamed western-style democracy for social conflicts, he said consultative democracy in China or even in Hong Kong did not bring peace and harmony either.

The fact is that Beijing-type democracy is no different from mandatory loyalty to the Communist Party. Such loyalty is the first criteria for Chinese people to become involved in politics. And now, such norms are affecting Hong Kong as well.

Taking the current chief executive race as an example, the potential candidates have equivocated about their respective candidacies. Only retired judge Woo Kwok-hing and former security minister Regina Ip are declared candidates.

The reason is that they are waiting for the green light from Beijing’s top leaders. But as Woo earlier questioned, why don’t they declare their candidacies anyway?

There is no red light or green light in the race. It’s all up to the individual candidates’ personal consideration.

The ridiculous waiting game strongly shows how consultative democracy is eating into the high degree of autonomy of Hong Kong.

Gradually, many Hong Kong issues are pending Beijing’s approval, undermining local government authorities.

The opposition camp in Hong Kong has been in existence for decades. They want a democratic government so as to bring the people’s voices to bear on policymaking.

But under Beijing’s rule, the opposition is treated as enemies of the central authorities.

Beijing just wants them to show their loyalty to the Communist Party first and foremost, or they have no say on political issues at all.

Against this backdrop, Hong Kong people’s voices, reflected by more than 50 percent of votes in the one-person one-vote mechanism in the Legislative Council elections, have been muzzled due to Beijing’s unfriendly attitude toward democrat lawmakers.

If political loyalty is the only goal of consultative democracy, it’s not democracy at all. It’s authoritarian rule.

Beijing recently has shown some signals to improve its relationship with traditional democrats. But on the other hand, it is trying hard to fight radical democrats.

It has to learn to respect different voices in Hong Kong if it does not want to trigger more anger among Hong Kong people.

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What Has ‘One China’ Policy Meant for Hong Kong? – Honolulu Civil Beat

With all the media coverage this month regarding the “One China” policy, it is a good time to review what this policy can mean in practice, not only for Taiwan but for other territories that China claims as its own.

A territory that we should all be watching is Hong Kong. Why? Because Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997 under “One Country, Two Systems,” the very model of autonomy that Deng Xiaoping initially proposed for Taiwan.

So far, Taiwan has flatly refused to reunify under those terms. But Hong Kong is still a barometer for Taiwan because it demonstrates the extent to which Beijing can be trusted to keep its promises.

Hong Kong

The Hong Kong skyline.


I taught law in Hong Kong for 17 years and continue to write about the successes and failures of One Country Two Systems.When I arrived, in 1989, it was a British colony. Although not a democracy, the territory enjoyed rule of law, clean government and civil liberties. That is why the population swelled so rapidly, from mere thousands in 1842 to more than 7 million.

Most Hong Kongers are immigrants or the descendants of immigrants from Mainland China.Over time, these immigrants –together with indigenous residents, British settlers, and migrants from other nations – built a thriving and distinctly Hong Kong community.In my view, this multicultural city-state should have been considered a “people” in international law, with a right to determine its own political status upon decolonization.

Instead, on July 1, 1997, the British sailed away and Hong Kong became a special administrative region of China.The people were not asked but rather were told that this transfer of sovereignty would occur.In essence, China’s territorial claims – which it asserted loudly in the United Nations – outweighed the rights of millions of people.

When Deng Xiaoping first proposed One Country Two Systems it was a vague and undefined concept. Fortunately, the British insisted that it be formalized in a detailed bilateral treaty.Thus, the Sino-British Joint Declaration was drafted, ratified, and duly registered with the United Nations.It promises that Hong Kong will “enjoy a high degree of autonomy except in foreign and defense affairs,” and retain its capitalist system, civil liberties and general way of life for at least 50 years.

Although Beijing now likes to insist that Hong Kong is a purely “domestic matter,” the UK continues to monitor compliance with the treaty and will likely do so until at least 2047.

If faithfully implemented, One Country Two Systems could provide Hong Kong with a meaningful form of “internal self-determination.”The territory has its own immigration border, its own currency, and an almost entirely separate legal system. The independent local judiciary diligently enforces civil liberties.

Indeed, in many respects, Hong Kong’s legal protections for human rights are stronger now than during the colonial period.Hong Kong also has developed at least partial democracy, with one-half of the seats in the local legislature elected from geographic constituencies.

Nonetheless, as One Country Two Systems completes its second decade, most commentators would agree that Hong Kong is approaching a state of crisis.The joint declaration was detailed on rights and freedoms but far too vague on local democracy. This created different expectations regarding the pace of democratic reforms and escalating conflicts, including “Occupy Central” and the “Umbrella Movement” in 2014.

A tiny but loud “localist” movement has now developed and a few members are openly advocating for independence.There is a real danger that Beijing will overreact and look for opportunities to curtail freedom of expression, in violation of the joint declaration.

The most worrying example is the disappearance of Lee Bo, who published books that were perfectly legal in Hong Kong but banned in Mainland China.Although not officially acknowledged, it is widely believed that Lee Bo was abducted by undercover agents who had no authority to operate in Hong Kong but somehow managed to take him across the border to Mainland China, where he was promptly detained.When Lee Bo finally returned to Hong Kong he refused to disclose what happened, clearly terrified of further retribution. This incident struck at the very heart of Hong Kong’s autonomy and must not be repeated if the people are to regain faith in One Country Two Systems. 

Small wonder that Taiwan watches Hong Kong so closely.Every constitutional crisis in Hong Kong provides yet another reason why Taiwan should never be pressured to reunify with China.The ultimate success or failure of Hong Kong’s autonomy could also have implications far beyond greater China.

At one time, international lawyers viewed One Country Two Systems as a possible model for power-sharing in other disputed territories. In other words, if One Country Two Systems works then itmight someday provide an alternative to armed conflict in another part of the world.But if it fails to provide the people of Hong Kong with meaningful democracy and continued civil liberties then it will be even harder to persuade the next separatist movement that “internal self-determination” is an acceptable substitute for full independence.

Poor Kids in Hong Kong Have it Pretty Bad – NextShark


Following the October release of the Hong Kong Poverty Situation Report, experts claim there is little government support for poverty-stricken children in subjects like nutrition and education.

Hong Kong’s child poverty rate in 2015 was at 23.2 percent, 10 percent higher than those aged between 18 and 64 in the city, according to the report.

The Social Welfare Department also reported that there were more than 73,000 students currently on Hong Kong’s Comprehensive Social Security Assistance program, also known as CSSA.

The South China Morning Post visited a 12-year-old boy named Li Ching-wan, who lives with four family members in a rat-infested and poorly ventilated 200-square-foot apartment in Cheung Sha Wan.

Li and his 9-year-old stepbrother are two of the 235,100 local children who live below the poverty line.

About 26.6 percent of those on CSSA ate “one meal less” to save money, according to Sze Lai-shan, a Society for Community Organization social worker helping Li’s family, citing a survey the group conducted in 2011.

When we asked them whether they had three meals a day, 20.9 percent of them said they didn’t,” she said. “This number includes both children who are on and not on CSSA.

It was also revealed that 25 percent of children in poverty didn’t have enough food to eat and half lacked proper nutrition.

Li’s family now gets by on three different CSSA programs.

If we really were to celebrate, we might go to Café de Coral where they sell rice with diced pork in sweet corn for HK$33 ($4.25),” Li said when asked what a perfect Christmas dinner with his family would look like.

But Yan-ling said $4.25 is usually how much it would cost to feed her and her two sons lunch.

She added that street vendors give her and her sons rice rolls for lunch, which costs about HK$10 ($1.29) each.

Lai-shan told SCMP existing social welfare policies may allow those in poverty to get enough food supplies.

But families with low income often skip meals to save money for school tuition or extracurricular activities, which Yan-ling said her son often misses out on, adding that her family had yet to join a school outing.

She also said she couldn’t afford tutoring classes for her sons because it costs hundreds of dollars per semester.

A low-income pregnant mother from Sham Shui Po district, identified only as Jen, experienced the same hardships with 9-year-old son.

She hoped community centers could put together more activities where her son could interact with other kids because she couldn’t afford to take him out during the holidays.

Going out means that we have to pay for transport, eating out and so on,” Jen explained. “It can be quite a big burden.

Asked where he wanted to go for Christmas, Jen’s son said he just wanted to spend the holiday at home with his mom.