Monday, 25 July 2016

Further Divisions Risk Higher Tensions

Lau says there will be voter backlash if pro-independents aren't allowed to run
The controversy over the Electoral Affairs Commission requiring candidates to sign a second form confirming that Hong Kong is an inalienable part of China -- refuses to go away.

There are questions over the legality of such a form, and why was it suddenly introduced over a week ago just before the nomination period for candidates to run in the upcoming Legislative Council election started.

Pro-independence groups were concerned at first, because initially the electoral office said that one had to sign the form in order to run, and if they did sign the form, but lied about their stance, then they would face serious consequences.

Justice Fung didn't clarify much on the new requirements
This was not clarified when some pan-democrats met with the commission's chief, Justice Barnabas Fung. He claimed the form was legal, but was vague on the consequences of signing it or not.

The former head of a semi-official think tank, the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, Professor Lau Siu-kai, warned the government would face consequences for the latest developments.

"If a pro-independence activist is barred from running in the Legislative Council, not only his supporters, but also voters who sympathize with him or some voters who do not support independence could vote for the radicals allowed in the race," Lau said on TVB yesterday.

Nevertheless, Lau believes the Hong Kong and Beijing governments have assessed the consequences and are "willing to bear such risks" as it was a matter of national sovereignty.

He said the addition of the second form demonstrated that the city's government was "capable of protecting national security and sovereignty".

Another fishball revolution waiting to erupt?
By the same token, Lau pointed out it wasn't unusual for restrictions to be imposed, saying that German politicians couldn't run for office if they supported Nazism or communism.

The strong possibility that Beijing and the Leung administration are willing to risk the wrath of pro-independence voters -- a big chunk of who are young -- means the authorities aren't interested in how the next generation feels about being ruled by China.

Again, like in previous times such as in 2014, the youth are dismissed for being naive, and so their concerns aren't even considered.

Human rights law expert Professor Michael Davis, hopes for a happy balance between what the youth want and how the status quo will address them, though that seems too idealistic.

"I see their cause of self-determination or independence as an expression of frustration -- we have marched for many years, we had the Occupy movement and still we have no democracy. We have no government that can guard Hong Kong's autonomy," he says.

"If the government wants to bring this to an end, the answer is to be less repressive and more committed to implementing promised reforms."

However, the authorities aren't going to listen to an outgoing academic... it's all about self-preservation, not what's good for Hong Kong in the long term.

So if there is another fish ball riot that erupts somewhere in the city, don't be surprised.

It's a powder keg that is ready to blow.

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