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Legislator Kwok Ka Ki

Dear Chi Ho,

People of Hong Kong are a bit fed up with the news over the controversy of the 2017 Chief Executive Election. One key question to ask is: Will the reform package bring about the necessary change, and usher in a new era of democracy?
I am not so optimistic about this.

Under the current reform package, the election is tightly controlled by Beijing. The so-called “one man one vote” will become a ceremonial practice rather than a real election. The same batch of 1200 members -- be it election or nomination committee -- is in fact doing the job for Beijing to screen and select those CE candidates preferred by the Central Government. And the real choice of the man in the street may never be reflected in this process. How can we say this is the election Hong Kong people have been waiting for in the past 25 years since the Basic law was drafted and passed?

The proposed election method is a kind of pseudo-democracy. It is fake. As a doctor I would never consider giving a fake drug to my patients, as I know he or she will surely die because a fake drug is no cure. As a legislator, it is equally impossible for me to endorse this proposal handed down by the NPC and ignore the fact that it does not bring about the necessary change or give rise to real democracy. To accept such a fake election package is neither my duty nor my mission.

At a certain point, I was quite worried that people may be misled by Government’s all-out propaganda. The slogan of “2017, MAKE IT HAPPEN” is just everywhere. Last week when I was doing my usual “medical consultation and meet-with-resident” street station campaign in the New Territories, a gentleman – who must be in his 70s -- came to me and held my hands. He gently asked: “Can I ask you something? Will you pocket the Government’s proposal?”

I was expecting to field a question about his own health or other district matter which concerned him. But this old gentleman turned out to be concerned that pan-Democratic legislators might be won over by the Government through minor amendments of the current package. My answer was of course a definite “NO”. In response, he smiled, showing a sign of relief, thanked me and walked away. I was equally relieved at that moment.

I am so glad to find that the people of Hong Kong have not been brainwashed or threatened. In fact, on many occasions in the past few weeks when I met with different people on the street, I received similar requests: Do not pocket the proposal. I was a bit surprised that so many people were so determined to say no to this package despite the “carpet bombing” style propaganda orchestrated by the government through every possible means. You can find it on TV, radio, posters, MTR and even street banners. Could they have overkilled?

From tycoons to residents in the public housing estates, people from all walks of life were organized to speak in support of the Proposal for Chief Executive Election handed down by the NPC. With strong back up from nearly all pro-Beijing groups and political parties, Robert Chow and his allies were able to set up a thousand signature gathering stations. And they claimed to have gathered more than a million signatures, although the reliability of the opinions reflected had been questioned. Can such formidable “display of power” changes the mind of the people of Hong Kong or the pan-democratic legislators. I am afraid not.

It is so obvious that the Beijing government is in control. Not the people of Hong Kong, and certainly not the Hong Kong SAR government. Chief Secretary Carrie Lam appeared so helpless. She has no choice but to decline all proposals for amendments made by various people – such as the abolition of corporate votes by adopting individual votes in the election of Nomination Committee, or using the Blank Votes as a gate-keeping measure. The majority of these proposed amendments are in fact suggested by people close to the Central Government, like law professor Albert Chen of the University of Hong Kong. All these minor amendments were also rejected by various messengers of Beijing including Zhang Rongshun, vice chairman of the Legislative Affair Commission of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee. Some people can get even further. Lau Siu Kai, Member of the Basic law Committee and former Chief of the Central Policy Unit, said the result of the future Chief Executive Election may only serve as a reference to Beijing. Lau argues that it is not obligatory for the Central Government to endorse the results of elections in Hong Kong. This contradicts their claims that Beijing is delivering true democracy to Hong Kong. Are they stupid or are they just lying?

Having exhausted all possible reasons in her efforts to persuade pan-democratic legislators to accept the government’s reform package, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam simply asked the people of Hong Kong and the legislators to forget about the ideal of fighting for democracy and to swallow the package. At that moment I was really very disappointed. One valid question to ask is: Do these people really have Hong Kong’s best interest at heart? Or are they betraying us? And why?

I had been fighting for democracy since I stood for District Council election in 1994. I witnessed the constitutional reforms in 2005 and 2010 and saw how these political games could be played. As a legislator, my mission and duty is not to oppose or veto constitutional development. Quite the contrary, it is my promise to the people of Hong Kong to support any reform package which will make universal suffrage a reality. The only requirement, which I insist, is to honour the people with real democratic elections. How can we say that this is a genuine one if people simply cannot vote for candidates they desire? What we have in front of us are simply not real choices. How can such a simple fact be invisible like the emperor’s new clothes?

Put in a broader perspective, perhaps what happens in this city regarding the constitutional reform is merely a reflection of the recent policy of the Chinese Central Government towards its citizens. Dissidents, human right workers and reporters on the Mainland were one by one taken into jail for various reasons. We in Hong Kong can no longer keep ourselves immune from what is happening on the Mainland.

For those in Beijing, they probably do not care very much whether the package will be passed or not. Status quo or the new package makes little difference to them. The only possible candidates are all hand picked by Beijing. Needless to say, these people are expected to demonstrate absolute loyalty to Beijing. There may even be more bonus if the proposal is not passed, as there would be good excuse for the Central Government or the Liaison Office to orchestrate a massive campaign to smear the pro-democracy camp, and try to gain more seats for the loyalists to Beijing in future elections.

The August 31st decision is a wake–up call to the people of Hong Kong. The naïve belief that the Central Government will grant us true democracy is never a reality. Either we misunderstand them or their PR exercise has been very good.

While China has risen to become the world’s second largest economy and is pumping billions of dollars into her own infrastructure or direct foreign investment in many other countries, developments in its political infrastructure have not been as extensive.

The Chinese Communist Party has clearly spelt out its vision to make China a modern state and a key player in global politics. They cannot avoid facing the issues of infringement of human rights, civil rights, freedom of speech and freedom of expression.

People from out of Hong Kong may not blink an eye when they make empty promises to Hong Kong people when delivering the constitutional reform as it is their job to toe the party line. Most people did not care what C.Y. Leung said. People just don’t trust him. What hurts Hong Kong people most
Is the betrayal by the SAR officials in charge of the constitutional reform. They know exactly what has happened and yet keep on telling people to accept fake democracy.

Many people, including pro-establishment legislators and the top SAR officials opted to betray the people of Hong Kong. This is their choice. This has never been my choice. We cannot betray the people of Hong Kong. As a Chinese and a Hong Kong citizen, I aspire for true democracy. Hong Kong has been and will always be an important breeding ground for activists. This is a legacy of the late Sun Yat Sen, the founder of modern China. It is my honour to be here at this moment to safeguard freedom and democracy for Hong Kong, and I hope you will join me in this cause.

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