Tuesday, 21 October 2014

The Students vs The Government

Some 2,000 people gathered in Admiralty to watch the live debates on TV
The highly-anticipated debate between the students and government officials was finally held after 24 days of occupying the streets.

Everyone knew there would be no consensus, but wanted to see how it would all play out.

I missed the first hour, commuting from work to Admiralty, where it was jam-packed with people, mostly standing and listening intently.

The students got advice from former Secretary of Justice Wong Yan-lung as well as Democratic Party stalwart Martin Lee Chu-ming, Dr Joseph Chan Cho-wai, former head of University of Hong Kong's department of politics, and Occupy Central co-founder and associate professor of sociology Chan Kin-man.

Federation of Students' Alex Chow said after the debates they prepared all last night with some 20 lawyers and academics helping them.

As a result the students were very well prepped and they showed it, particularly Yvonne Leung, who cites the constitution that laws can be changed, countering Secretary of Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung's claims.

Students on one side... who on the other?
"According to the constitution of the People's Republic of China, the National People's Congress possesses the power to overthrow the decision," she said. Cheers in the crowd.

The law student's other points were that the government has a responsibility to initiate electoral reform decision instead of anticipating the central government's decision, and that the government has given up its right to fight Beijing for democracy.

Some tweeted she would make an excellent constitutional lawyer.

All the students spoke, but on the government's side, only Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, Yuen, and Raymond Tam, Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs; Edward Yau, Director of the Chief Executive's Office and Lau Kong-wah, Under Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs did not say a word in the two-hour debate.

Immediately people online created caricatures of Lau hiding in a trash bin in the room...

There were a lot of comments of why the officials were addressing the students by their English names and not by their last names as stipulated in the rules. Many found it condescending, perhaps a tactic to keep the students in their place.

But the students were undeterred and kept voicing their grievances to the government, that people are unhappy with the way things are now which is why they have protested and slept on the streets for 24 days now.

They also attacked Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's remarks yesterday to foreign media, like The New York Times and Wall Street Journal that if one man, one vote was given in Hong Kong, then the poor would be the dominant voice.

Many were outraged to read his comments, which will get the poverty advocates out on the streets as well. To say that Leung is only interested in courting specific interest groups again shows his contempt for the majority of the population and particularly those who are barely eking out a living.

The officials tried to reiterate their position, and that the students were being naive, that they didn't know the politics behind trying to get electoral reform passed. Lam also threw in the anti-Occupy poll that had over 1 million signatures, to which the crowd groaned. Really? Not all those signatures were verified and many were not even Hong Kong residents!

She also claimed that Mongkok was dangerous which is why the occupation should end. But some people said afterwards that Lam should go there herself to see how peaceful the protesters have been, particularly these past two days.

In the end Lam tried to soothe the students, and said she hoped there would be more dialogue, that 2017 was only the first step towards electoral reform. But will the students buy it?

A lot of people left Admiralty as soon as the protests were over, but the solidarity was there. Will the crowds continue to hang out in the protest sites remain to be seen, but the students definitely made Hong Kong people proud -- they were speaking out their frustrations to the government directly, who should have been listening all along.


  1. "the students definitely made Hong Kong people proud -- they were speaking out their frustrations to the government directly, who should have been listening all along."

    Hear, hear!

  2. Basically, Carrie Lam states those who are poor doesn't have the brain cells or the mental capacity to vote on HK CE, aka sheeps.

    What's wrong for the poor to have a voice (and a choice) in who runs HK?

    1. HI nulle -- well it was her boss that said it and towing the line, she had to reiterate it...

  3. CY Leung said the line, but Carrie Lam supports it by not condemning it. Carrie Lam doesn't support universal sufferage.

    1. If Carrie Lam wants to keep her job of course she will repeat what her boss says...