Thursday, 22 January 2015

Keeping the Momentum Going?

Jimmy Lai talks to the media after his visit to police headquarters
Today there was an advertisement in the Asia edition of the Wall Street Journal where a group of pro-democracy financiers in Hong Kong listed "10 requests" to the Chinese Communist Party.

These include asking Beijing to "refrain from interfering in the administrative affairs of Hong Kong" and to "establish a system of genuine universal suffrage" as well as defend the city's freedoms.

"Three years ago, I was just like any other trader in Hong Kong. I didn't care about politics... but things have changed so much it is important for finance people to speak up and to stand together to fight for true democracy," said hedge fund manager Edward Chin of HK Finance Monitor 2047, which took out the ad.

He added the letter outlining the 10 points would be given to Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The pro-democracy campaign group consists of 70 finance workers, and had previously supported the Occupy Central movement.

"The economy is being hindered by the lack of democracy here," said corporate governance activist David Webb, who is also part of the campaign group.

"Hong Kong has to start looking at whether we're going to... preserve the current systems that we have, or whether we are now on the slippery slope of erosion and assimilation and absorption into the mainland system."

It's curious to see people in finance take out an ad like this -- don't they just care about making money?

In the meantime it's hard to tell what their real motive may be. Some critics think these so-called campaigners give the impression they are supporting the pro-democracy movement, but in fact hope this will benefit their balance sheets, while others say Hong Kong was previously under colonial rule -- didn't they also make money then?

For now we look at this as another form of support for the Umbrella Movement -- though it seems to be slowly being dismantled by the authorities with the leaders being called into the police station.

Upon their request, Next Media founder Jimmy Lai Chee-ying visited the Wan Chai police headquarters yesterday and he was very forward in asking the police to charge him immediately.

However Lai later reported the authorities refused his request, "but they said they had the right to ask me to report back any time", he said.

Sounds like they are trying to use any opportunity to exercise their powers -- the point of almost abusing them, like they did with "chalk girl", a 14-year-old who was arrested for drawing pictures with chalk on the former Lennon Wall in Admiralty and was separated from her family.

Seems as if both sides are testing the "rule of law" which will be a healthy exercise. However, it would be in the best interests of the police not to overstep their boundaries too much, as they need to rebuild their reputation after their heavy-handed approach to protesters during the Umbrella Movement...

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