By Chu Hoi-dick –
The unique hardship endured by you and your party Demosisto is definitely not something to be celebrated. It is a clear remark of the dire political situation. During 1980s when Deng Xiaoping created the concept of One Country Two Systems, Beijing’s focus was to adopt the good elements of Hong Kong’s system for the development of China, in particular the legal system that had the trust of the majority; but in 2017, Beijing’s confidence of its one party authoritarian rule is so overwhelming that they ask Hong Kong to learn from the Mainland system instead. As a result, not only is the prospect of real democracy in Hong Kong being crushed, but even the judiciary is becoming a political tool of the executive branch.
Many observers have stated, Hong Kong’s accelerated fall to authoritarian rule is not something only enforced by Beijing, but are endorsed by many local elites who were grown up with a colonial mentality. The three judges of the Court of Appeal who grossly neglected civil disobedience as a rightful motive clearly put themselves in a cooperative role to keep the undemocratic status quo, rather than to promote the healthy change of the society towards democracy.
What worries me is that the legacy of our 30-year-old democratic movement is not substantial enough to resist the amalgamation of our 170 year-old conforming colonial mentality with the authoritarian agenda brought to us by our new master from the north. Since the Umbrella Movement cynicism became the prevalent mood, the number of people who dare to voice out dropped drastically, even when the population is confronted with major human rights setbacks such as the Causeway Bay Bookstore saga, the disqualifications of elected legislators using new interpretation of Article 104 of the Basic Law, and even the giving up of Hong Kong jurisdiction to the mainland authority in the high-speed railway co-location scheme.
When we dig deeper to the Hong Kong identity, I am surprised to see that although many of us have strong affection towards Hong Kong, we don’t really act as if this city belongs to us. For example when the government has total control to land sale and town planning and the whole land administration is a black box since the 19th century, we don’t feel the urgency to take back the power. That should be the core part of our democratic movement yet in many years no one talked about it until young protesters came out several years ago to fight against the Northeast New Territories new development area. Thirteen of them were sent to prison this month due to a review of sentence applied by the Department of Justice.
The government is also playing a very successful PR campaign since CY Leung became Chief executive in demonizing the democrats as anti-development and common enemy of the city. But in fact we are fighting for every in the city the rights to decide the allocation of land resources, which I think is the only solution to the housing problem of the city.
Beijing and Hong Kong local elites are encroaching every aspects of the democratic movement. We have the media mostly controlled by pro-Beijing businessmen, we have six elected legislators from the democratic camp disqualified, we have mega state enterprises continue buying up properties and public utilities with the aim to control the economy, and the most serious thing is, we have a demoralized population. It is when the above conditions ready that the SAR government started this round of imprisonment of young activists in order to decapitate the new generation of the opposition. They try to make this as the fatal blow to the movement.
It seems easy to predict the dreadful result of this David-Goliath struggle, and difficult not to feel desperate. But look at it from a comparative perspective, when in history has a modern democracy movement succeed before hundreds if not thousands were sent to prison? When in history has universal suffrage ever been granted from above by a one-party authoritarian state? If it is true that hope only comes with endeavours and perseverance, then it is of utmost importance for you being confined and I who still have a position in the establishment to rethink the vision, the mode of organization and the strategy of the democratic movement, in order to make it strong again.
Your party Demosisto is at the core of this new phase. I think, with less mass media coverage on our side, party members should not stick to the internet but pour to the streets to give political speeches, about the danger of co-location scheme, about the democratization of public finance and land administration, and about the Basic Law and the constitutional order we want. We need to actively re-orient the people of Hong Kong in this difficult time. We need to persuade them to realize that authoritarian rule in Hong Kong will only damage our livelihood and perpetuate the power structure that favours the rich, that democracy is our undefeatable cause towards dignity and prosperity.
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liao Xiaobo died in custody last month. Due to censorship, Liao was definitely not a household name in China and even fewer people know about his contributions and sacrifices to the democratic movement in China. What made him so determined to risk his life to launch the 08 Charter? I finally understand after his death: the more difficult the movement becomes, the more important is to persevere. Facing the same Goliath, Liao sacrificed his life to keep the movement alive, the democratic movement that inevitably links China, Macau and Hong Kong and even Taiwan together.
Now Hong Kong began to have our own prisoners of conscience. I will try my best to support Demosisto and other democratic parties when I am still outside, and accept with no fear my turn to go inside.
Chu Hoi Dick
This is the letter of ousted legislator Chu Hoi-dick to Nathan Law, a student leader of the Occupy Central movement, at RTHK’s Letter to Hong Kong programme broadcast on August 20.
Photo: Voice of Hong Kong and CitizenNews pictures