Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Boiling Point

Right now there's a pretty big gathering at Chater Garden in Central, where several hundred people are protesting the Hong Kong government's plans to scrap by-elections.

The event is organized by the political group People Power and they plan a three-day protest outside of the Legislative Council from today.

When I got to Central after 7pm there was an enthusiastic crowd with lots of placards, people shouting slogans, others making speeches. And there were swarms of police everywhere. I counted at least 10 police vans which meant there were over 50-60 policemen and women, not including those on motorcycles. The police were also filming the event in case things got out of hand, but from the short few minutes I passed the protest things seemed to be orderly. There were even some police a few blocks away which seemed completely redundant.

And after I left the gym at 9pm the protesters were still there in force, continuing to make speeches and shouting in agreement. The police were still sticking around too.

The government really doesn't get it -- it doesn't want to follow the rules.

When five of pan-democratic legislators resigned en masse in late January this year, they were trying to have a "de facto referendum" on democracy.

In the end the five were easily re-elected in May, but the whole process irked the Hong Kong government.

So what did it decide to do? To ban by-elections, by saying those that resign, die or are unfit to serve due to health reasons will be replaced by the runner-up in the election. The government claims this is the most efficient and cost-effective way of doing things. Has anyone ever heard of anything so ludicrous in a somewhat democratic society?

Even the Hong Kong Bar Association has issued four warnings that the proposal is unconstitutional. What part of "unconstitutional" does the government not understand?

Then just before the recent July 1 protests, the government suggested the runner-up could be from the same party as the one who left the seat empty.

The Bar Association still thinks this is unconstitutional and goes against articles in the Basic Law.

In the end over 200,000 people hit the streets on July 1, the anniversary of the handover, to show their frustrations with the government on a wide range of issues including banning by-elections.

After that protest which has become an annual event, the government has partly U-turned on the issue by saying it will now hold public consultations on it.

People Power is still upset at the Tsang administration and hence the three-day protest vigil that includes calling for the resignation of Stephen Lam Sui-lung, Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs.

Will the government listen and finally back down on something that is technically illegal?

It remains to be seen.

1 comment:

  1. hong kong is now borders on anarchy. people misunderstand what really is democracy. the just feel they are entitled to do whatever they want regardless.