Letters from leaders of Hong Kong's political parties and government departments.
To my Dearest Hong-Kong,
I’m honoured to address a people who’ve proven that despite the hurdles they may face, and the false justifications that may be spewed by Mainland-agenda heavy politicians to justify the endangerment of our most cherished principles, they will not falter to unite in peaceful opposition as we’ve seen over the extradition issue.
The spring of 2019 has staged the largest protests since the Umbrella Movement, and some argue the biggest rallies since the handover in 1997. On Sunday 29th of April we were more than 130,000 strong. On Sunday 9th of June, we were over a million. Over a million in a population of 7.5 million. Let that sink in for a moment.
Come Wednesday June 12th thousands of young people and other opponents of the bill gathered around LegCo and pressured the government not to table this controversial bill during its second reading.
Hong Kong , I admire you. I admire your resilience, I admire your courage, I admire your power.
It would be so easy to accept for a given the words of politicians such as those of Mr. Holden Chow who said in his letter to Hong Kong, rather ironically and incoherently, a picture of a Hong Kong prey to ruthless criminals. Indeed, the Victoria harbour seems but a large swamp of loopholes where all run from justice “scott-free”.
Hong Kong can still boast of an independent judiciary, the existence of a robust rule of law and a clear and fair legal systems which more than meets international standards unlike that of the Mainland. The Basic Law and “One Country Two Systems” principles assure our civil liberties, our human rights and our autonomy; all which unlike the pro-Beijing parties we refuse to abandon.
The proposed extradition bill, if passed, would threaten all of this.
Our city is not at the moment the “criminal backwater of Asia” as my friend Ronny Tong put it during our debate on the matter of extradition at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club.
However, if “our system” is quashed by the Government through false pretence, we will become the backwaters of the People’s Republic of China.
Under false pretence, because it is obvious that the Taiwan Murder Case, thou truly deplorable, is not the reason for the Secretary for Security and the Government’s proposed amendments to the 1997 Fugitive Offenders Ordinance and the Mutual Assistance in Legal Matters Agreement. I do feel, sincerely for the loss of the young victim’s family and it is mine and the pan-democrats hope that justice will be served.
Yet, I do wonder what is most deplorable to the DAB: Filibustering or using the loss of life and the pain of a family to justify the advancement of an agenda which has been waiting for the opportune moment to be pushed into the limelight?
Sadly, we all know this case is being politicised to serve the higher interests of those whom would willingly make puppets of all Legislative Council members.
However, Hong Kong and its people have proven that they will neither be manipulated nor silenced.
The world looks at Hong Kong in amazement. For in truth I can think of very few places where a gathering of so many remains peaceful. Where thousands of young people stand united together, share resources and look out for each other.
We see all generations of Hong Kong represented in these gatherings, with foreigners and expats who call our city home also joining in to oppose the derogation of our basic civil liberties and rights.
The calm and the organisation in these protests is bewildering. The trash is cleared, water is passed around, ambulances and other helpers are applauded.
Of course there is some notable tension…I understand there can be frustration around the barricades but people stood their ground in peace. It is important to remember that the very few who might engage with law enforcement at times do not speak for the whole.
Hongkongers are peaceful and respectful. We stand and we chant, we wrap white roses on iron gates and built protective barricades.
The overwhelming solidarity and peace of young people was shockingly met with violence initiated by the Government.
Carrie Lam’s government chose to clamp down on people by surrounding them , sending in their technical units to instil fear among them and by using real weapons meant to injure those who would not backdown.
The scale of violence was unprecedented. Pepper spray meant to disperse the young people by burning their skin was used early on Wednesday. Quantities of tear gas cannisters, reminiscent of 2014, was thrown into crowds from heights and even onto the footbridges.
The police armed in riot gear closed in on protesters from the side on Connaught road and Queensway making them an easy target for the lung and eye tearing substance they threw with intent to harm.
Worse, while young people stood with an umbrella in one arm and saline solution in the other, the police shot rubber bullets.
These violent attacks were both aimless and targeted, with horrifying instances such as a group of officers taking down a lone protester by assaulting him with water cannons or beating down another who stood up too boldly with their batons.
So far more than 72 people are reported injured, ranging from 15 to 65, with some in critical condition.
In this wake of mobilisation, in this horrifying use of violence, the Government announced It would not budge. Instead it declared hours after the march on Sunday night and the protest on Sunday that it would pass the bill.
Despite the Security Bureau and the Chief Executive evident lack of regard for public opinion or condemnation of violence, the people of this “criminal backwater” will continue to take to street and make their voice heard.
Hongkongers are peaceful but they are not numb, we will fight for the respect of our autonomy.
We remain an enclave of human rights and civil liberties at the footsteps of a country whose leadership do not share our values nor beliefs.
A million people stood up, prioritised their ideals over other important responsibilities such as work or family because they are concerned.
These voters, these individuals of all walks of life who are Hongkongers thru and thru were not even deemed worth consulting by the government.
It is shocking that there has been no true public consultation over the proposed amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance; amendments which critically endanger our international community and open the floodgates to the Mainland’s unscrupulous legal system.
No one can say this isn’t controversial. No one can argue that it is only the business sector which is concerned and that the removal of nine ‘business’ related offences is enough to disperse worries.
I am grateful for the international media whose focused on our plight, I am grateful for the legal scholars and the international politicians who have denounced Beijing’s intense meddling in Hong Kong politics along with its disregard for the “One Country, Two systems principle.”
However, most of all, I am grateful for the spirit of Hong Kong. I admire each and everyone’s courage and dedication. I know it can feel hopeless at times but we have to carry on and I urge the international community to keep supporting us.
Justice prevails brute force and oppression but we need our allies to stand with us .
In the vein of David facing Goliath, our strength is in our values and our rock is our peace. We are Hong Kong; and as Hongkongers we stand up for what we believe in.
Dennis Kwok LegCo Member for Legal
Dear villagers of Yuen Kong San Tsuen,
Last week, I was kicked out from the village representative election by the government’s returning officer, declaring that I do not sincerely uphold the Basic Law and pledge allegiance to the Hong Kong SAR. Lots of media coverage came out afterwards but unfortunately most reporters mentioned the name of our village without knowing where it is. It worries me that you may follow the narrative of the mass media by thinking that I have been using the village election as an excuse to start a political war against the government. This open letter is an explanation of my ideas.
I guess before the disqualification of my candidacy not many of you have heard about the upcoming village election, and even fewer have voted in the past. Frankly, the 15 year old village representative election system does not seem to encourage villagers’ participation, especially among new residents. If you are not an indigenous villager you need to live in the village for more than three years to be eligible to register as a village voter. A village have at least two representatives, one for indigenous villagers and one for residents, but most of the time the latter seat is taken over by another indigenous villager of the major clan. Competitions seldom involves real difference between election platforms, not to mention visions about the future of the rural area.
But that is what a village representative election should be about! Take Yuen Kong San Tsuen as an example, when I wrote my election platform, I realized that a village is actually the best testing ground for new ideas and initiatives. From management of burial ground to revitalization of abandoned farmland, from promotion of renewable energy to recycling system, from establishment of childcare to elderly care co-operatives. All these issues happen within a manageable size of 800 residents, compared to the gigantic New Territory West Legislative Council geographical constituency, with a population of 2 million. For such an interesting position, I can’t find any reason not to run as soon as possible, and to me, every village seat uncontested is a huge waste of political opportunity.
At the same time, my participation in the election relates to the campaign to reform the Heung Yee Kuk. 1300 village representatives are the foundation of the three-tier representative institution in the New Territories, above which we have 27 rural committees and the Heung Yee Kuk. Currently the rural committees are operating in a black box and very few information is open to the public. There is an urgent need to amend the corresponding legislations to make both the rural committees and Heung Yee Kuk more transparent and accountable. They should represent the views of the majority, concern about the environment but not focus on real estate interests of the minority.
But I was barred from running. It has nothing to do with my village election platform and my proposed reform of the rural committees and the Heung Yee Kuk. At the surface of it, the returning officer did not accept my interpretation of what is meant to uphold the basic law. I declared so, and he just didn’t believe it. But the core issue is that this government under the control of the Chinese communist party does not believe in its people, they want to do political screening before the voters choose. They want to know the result prior to the election. They intervene on every level, from the chief executive election to the village representative elections.
And even more alarming is the political logic behind the returning officer’s decision. I was told that not only myself cannot advocate for independence, but I need to denounce others’ right to do so in order to secure my eligibility as a candidate. If this logic get rooted in Hong Kong, we will lose our right to keep silent.
The promotion of this logic is exemplified by the coming enactment of the national anthem ordinance. Actively performing the national anthem in a manner harmful to the dignity is an offence, but not standing respectfully at the occasion where the national anthem is performed may also be prosecuted. In the future, everyone needs to act patriotically in order to stay away from trouble. Pro-Beijing legislator Priscilla Leung even went so far as to propose that management teams of public venues should be held responsible for letting users discuss sensitive political issues.
The world is facing unprecedented challenges on different levels. Global warming and the related extreme weather have triggered social unrests in different regions and will only become more severe and frequent in the near future. Pollution, degradation of ecosystem, ageing and poverty, the development of artificial intelligence and biological engineering are all posing fundamental questions about the essence and continuation of humankind. Liberal democracy itself is being challenged for not able to bring about real change, but a chinese style authoritarian rule suffocating Hong Kong and spreading across the world would definitely make things worse.
You can’t make the world a better place by not letting people speak. It is as simple as that.
The Yuen Kong San Tsuen village election was ended suddenly, but they cannot stop the campaign to carry on. I lost the candidacy, but in return I gained a lot of opportunities to promote democracy, freedom of speech and sustainable development. I hope more villagers are ready to join hands to implement all the proposals in the election platform, and I am confident that many more villagers are willing to compete in the next election, to push for a greener and cleaner rural Hong Kong.
Today marks the beginning of the Yuen Kong San Tsuen "Da Jiu" festival every eight years, it prays for good weather and a peaceful nation. I wish the event a great success and our vegetable farmers to have good harvest in the coming year.