Letters from leaders of Hong Kong's political parties and government departments.
In the past few weeks, I have visited Raphael Wong Ho-Ming, Alex Chow Wing- Hong and other young people who were imprisoned for their protests outside the LegCo complex and the Central Government Offices. I am not a frequent visitor of prisons, and it was disheartening for me to see them sent to jail handcuffed, dressed in brown inmate uniform and separated from their families and friends. It is also sad for me to find them paying hefty “prices” for courageously fighting against the unjust political system! They are not going after self-interest! They just want to have genuine democracy and free elections as promised to them and guaranteed by the Basic Law! And yet the Hong Kong Government – in strict observance of decisions of China’s National People’s Congress Standing Committee -- repeatedly cheated Hong Kong people by proposing “fake” democracy that denies us genuine popular election for the Chief Executive of Hong Kong.
How could the people of Hong Kong -- be it younger generations or other cohorts -- swallow such insulting proposals? How could we turn a blind eye to the fact that North East New Territories New Development Areas are being planned in line with the interests of property tycoons, New Territories indigenous residents and speculators -- including the most senior government officials -- and yet other residents not belonging to the indigenous groups will be forced to leave and have their homes torn down by bulldozers.
All these young people are either studying in universities or in early stage of their own career development. Now they will spend months in jails with other criminals convicted of charges like murder, rape, and other crimes. Why? Why should they be imprisoned after they have duly completed their community service orders? Why impose such heavy sentences? Secretary of Justice, Rimsky Yuen denied any political motive behind the sentence review. Can we trust him? Instead of addressing the fundamental issues -- namely achieving genuine popular election in Hong Kong and conducting proper consultation in development and town planning -- the government chooses to lock up people in opposition, making sure that they are in jail with the heaviest sentences. How shameful it is for a government to act like this? We are in an era of open and responsible government, and the view of the people should be given highest respect. And yet this government is doing quite the contrary! The charge imposed to the young people -- the Public Order Ordinance -- is draconian, often used by colonial governments to suppress opposition. Hong Kong claims to be Asia’s World City and we are proud of our world-class standard of governance. It is a shame that the HKSAR government is still embracing this inappropriate law and uses it like colonial government in years bygone.
Are we still practising “One Country, Two Systems “? Or are we being assimilated slowly into our socialist motherland in the North? Instead of upholding justice and playing a key role in the check and balance of power of the Administration, our law courts, appear to some observers, to be used increasingly as a means of control, particularly those not endorsing the views of Beijing or the Hong Kong Government. While media around the world is criticizing the verdict, our government and many senior lawyers are attacking these media and stressing the fairness of our legal system. I do not intend to argue with them. They are blinded by their belief in our legal system being fair and sound. I hope they do remember that their training is based on the British System, in which the Prime Minister and Members of the Parliament are elected by popular votes, and senior judges appointed by a government chosen by the people. Prime minister and Members of the Parliament will be kicked out of their positions if they fail the expectation of the people. The people of Hong Kong did not elect Carrie Lam or her politically appointed officials and half of the members of the Legislative Council. Carrie Lam can only represent the 777 voters from a small circle. These privileged voters mostly act under the direction of the Beijing Government through their agents in Hong Kong.
While we are still recovering from the sadness of seeing the imprisonment of the young dissidents, another issue props up. The topic of Independence of Hong Kong seems to come back after incidents of posters advocating independence have been posted in various university campuses.
I recalled a recent incident. I was doing street stations this week to collect letters, words and signatures to encourage the young prisoners. While many people came to our station and tell us to relay messages to them, an old lady came to me and said, apart from some encouraging words for the prisoners, that she supports the freedom of talking about “independence of Hong Kong”. I expect only young people will be endorsing the idea of independence of Hong Kong, and was a bit surprised to find the old lady to be brave enough to talk about that. She emphasized it is not the topic, but the dwindling of freedom of speech that concerned her. The topic of independence of Hong Kong, like any other ideas, should not be stifled, she argued. Just like the people in Spain, UK or Tibet, Hong Kong people should not be silenced because of their different views. Or we will see Hong Kong gradually deviating from our original core values, like freedom, fairness, democracy and rule of law. The recent cases of imprisoning the young protestors and the move by the government to dis-qualify legislators will only add fuel to controversies. When people are helpless and lost all their hopes in changing the situation, independence of Hong Kong may become their remote but sensible option.
If Beijing or the HKSAR government really hates the idea of independence of Hong Kong, what they should do is not to suppress the opposition. Suppression will only encourage rebellious young people to seek “independence”. What should be given back to the people of Hong Kong are the democratic system, genuine popular election and the freedom of retaining the core values of Hong Kong.