Freedoms erode – a blatant violation of the Basic Law and Sino-British Joint Declaration

In light of recent rapid decline in freedoms in Hong Kong, the people of Hong Kong must not stand and watch Hong Kong burn. That’s why Hong Kongers took it to the street and the demonstration on 1st January 2013 opened a new chapter of Hong Kong’s continuous battle for freedom and universal suffrage.

I believe that every human being is born free. Before I go into the details of the demonstration, it’s important for me to talk about how freedoms in Hong Kong erode after the handover of sovereignty in 1997.

In the Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Basic Law stated clearly that Hong Kongers’ freedoms are protected:

Sino-British Joint Declaration

(5) The current social and economic systems in Hong Kong will remain unchanged, and so will the life-style. Rights and freedoms, including those of the person, of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of travel, of movement, of correspondence, of strike, of choice of occupation, of academic research and of religious belief will be ensured by law in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Private property, ownership of enterprises, legitimate right of inheritance and foreign investment will be protected by law.

The Basic Law

Article 27
Hong Kong residents shall have freedom of speech, of the press and of publication; freedom of association, of assembly, of procession and of demonstration; and the right and freedom to form and join trade unions, and to strike.

Article 28
The freedom of the person of Hong Kong residents shall be inviolable.

No Hong Kong resident shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful arrest, detention or imprisonment. Arbitrary or unlawful search of the body of any resident or deprivation or restriction of the freedom of the person shall be prohibited. Torture of any resident or arbitrary or unlawful deprivation of the life of any resident shall be prohibited.

The truth is, the freedoms we enjoy in Hong Kong is gradually being taken away. Not ripped from us all at the same time, but bit by bit…

News reports (over the past years) are clear evidence of these. A few recent news reports are used below to outline what’s been going on in Hong Kong. You’d notice that only one publication is quoted – this is another evidence of the self-censorship amongst the Hong Kong media. Note: some other publications follow up with these reports, and a number of them are relatively unbiased whilst some completely ignore any of the above and continue supporting the Hong Kong SAR government and the China government.

Apple Daily (8th Jan, 2013) “Limiting access to records of registered companies, stops media from investigating and confirming identities – harms public interest”

Investigative journalism is important to a free nation, where people are informed the stories that matter to their livelihood.

Apple Daily (1st Aug, 2012) – Mr Paul CHAN Mo-po, Secretary for Development, was found to own sub-division flats under a company (sub-division flats are illegal in Hong Kong). In light of this scandal, the government stopped the public, including journalists, from obtaining drivers’ identity via going through records of licence plate number. (Mr. CHAN, who’s also recorded in camera for drink driving, is free from any prosecution and charges Apple Daily (4th Oct, 2012))

Apple Daily (13th Dec 2012) – End of 2012, Apple Daily also exposed a massive scandal about “ditch oil” (basically “processed” used oil that’s dumped by restaurants (some even “collect” it from the drains, hence the name), it’s proven to be cancer causing and China has been producing and selling within China for years). The story revealed that a China company has been selling ditch oil to at least one Hong Kong distributor and many restaurant chains have been using such oil. This China company is owned by a State-Owned-Enterprise, which emerged in recent years and already became one of the largest (cooking) oil companies in the PRC.

When the newspaper further investigated the matter in China, the journalists were taken to the police in China and threatened they will not be welcome to China if they report the story. One of the China journalists who first uncovered the ditch oil in the first place was found dead with multiple stab wounds soon after the news was published. The ditch oil business is believed to be owned by the powerful.

Censorship in Hong Kong is not done by the government nor in the form of active involvement. With the number of newspaper in Hong Kong, only one or maybe two would report government’s inadequacy or scandals related to local government officials as well as the government in China.

I’ll follow with another piece about the 1st Jan 2013 demonstration, and media in Hong Kong once again were clearly categorised into two groups: pro-China (the majority) and pro-democracy (minority).

Please leave your comments.

Hong Kong’s unique history (and a bit of China)

To talk about Hong Kong history, we need to trace it quite a while back. Below is my attempt to make it as short and simple as possible…

China has always been a “multi-ethnicity country”. Han has traditionally be the ruler of China (of course the other “countries” in China are ruled by various ethnic leaders) – this is a very complicated subject, and this English website and this Chinese page show the map of China in all dynasty in history.

Now let’s look Ming and Qing.

Wu San-kuei (or Wu Sangui), a military general of the Ming empire was the direct cause of the fall of the Ming dynasty. Based on history, his obsession over his concubine, Chen YuanYuan, was the fundamental reason that he betrayed the Ming emperor.

Long story short, Wu opened the gate for the Qing army, resulting the end of Ming. Great Qing (大清), the last imperial dynasty of China, was established in 1644 by Manchu people.

Qing enjoyed a long period of prosperity, and the reigns of the Yongzheng Emperor (r. 1723–1735) and his son, the Qianlong Emperor (r. 1735–1796), marked the height of the Qing Dynasty’s power. During this period, the Qing Empire ruled over 13 million square kilometres of territory. However, towards the end of the Qing dynasty, the corruption and general addiction to opium caused enormous problem to China. The long-term weakness led Qing dynasty to an end.

During the Opium Wars, the Qing government signed multiple treaties with the western world – China calls these treaties “unequal treaties” till this very day (a personal note: I agree that there’s nothing for the western world to be proud of, but I cannot agree that these treaties are unfair. Let me quote a Chinese saying 勝者為王,敗者為寇 – basically it means: the winner is the champion and the loser only has oneself to blame.)

The Treaty of Nanking, signed on 29 August 1842, The Qing government agreed to make Hong Kong Island a crown colony, ceding it to the British Queen “in perpetuity”. In 1860, the colony was extended with the Kowloon peninsula. In 1898, the Second Convention of Peking further expanded the colony with the 99 year lease of the New Territories.

A couple interesting facts:

  • When the western army went to China, people in Hong Kong provided food, water and many other supplies to the westerners
  • Many Han Chinese, according to other materials, supported the western troops

More to follow, this is only to explain the colony status of Hong Kong, and I’ll write more about what happened in more recent history…

Thanks for reading. Please leave comments.