Hong Kong’s Democratic Movement – A Unique Protest Culture that Guarantees Success Never

Hong Kong’s Democratic Movement – A Unique Protest Culture that Guarantees Success Never

Source: Guardian

When one thinks of protest, one can picture that the people are unsatisfied by the government and have decided to take action over certain matters, to show the government (whether or not elected democratically by the people) that what it is doing is against the will of the people. Ultimately, the function of a protest is to make the government listen to the people, with the implicit threat that otherwise the people will make sure their demands are met – even if that means overthrowing the government.

We have seen thousands and thousands of protests in the world, and many end in bloodshed. It is no doubt sad but one has to pay a price for what one wants, and on the road to democracy and to freedom, prices often are high. Yes, blood will be shed, and yes those in power, democratically elected or not, will most certainly use propaganda to label the protests as “violent” or “irrational”. However, when a government goes against the peoples will’, or worse, betrays its people, the rational response is to behave “irrationally” – it is only human nature. After all, not all violence is visible and will directly cause death: bloodless violence does not mean that no harm is done. This type of violence carried out by a regime, or by people in power, will almost certainly trigger violence led by angry people – the people who no longer trust the government and doubt the credibility of those in power.

People protest with the aim of changing what is wrong in society. People want to make sure the changes happen. For better or worse, changes will bring new ideas to the regime, or even a new government that will listen to the people and respect their will. Demonstrations reinforce to those in power the fact that it is the people who give the government the privilege to serve, reminding the world of the foundations of democracy: A government is accountable to its people.

We have seen how Ukrainians rejected their government earlier this year. Of course we have all seen the videos of musicians playing music in front of fully-armed police troopers. Of course we have all watched the videos of Ukrainians explaining to the world what they are trying to achieve. All of these seemed peaceful and rational. However, when their voices were not heard, they marched on. They threw rocks at the police, who are supposed to be the servants of the people and protect the people, but instead were obeying a regime that ordered them to kill civilians. The police used their truncheons on the people, and snipers shot to kill.

The word “riot” is always used by governments seeking to bolster their own legitimacy in the face of a people who have decided that they will no longer accept their lies and betrayals! Words are amazing things: they control how the public see a certain issue, they plant ideas in our minds without us knowing, they are the best invention for those in power to continue brutality, and they are the killing machines which those who are high up deploy to manipulate the world’s point of view in the international arena.

In Hong Kong, the situation is completely different. Not that Hongkongers do not wish to have democracy, not that the government is less tyrannical than others, not that there are not protests. The key difference is the existence of “professional protesters”. These are those who take pains to appear to be helping Hongkongers on different issues: may it be broad topics like referendum and democracy, or local-scale issues like the construction of incinerators or the expansion of land-fills in certain areas. However, their goal is to take control (or hijack) the issue by representing the people. These people are high profile and are shape themselves as the frontline fighters in Hong Kong.

They violate the natural rules of protest. They promote peaceful, rational, non-(physically) violent and non-verbally-violent protests, but all these strictures apply only to protesters: That is to say that when the police use violence against protesters, they would tell protesters to remain non-violent and accept their fate – to be brutalised.

How do they do that? Let’s sum it up in a ten step routine they apply to EVERY PROTEST:

  1. An issue is brought up, and a small concern group is formed by the individuals being affected directly by the issue (e.g. Northeast New Territories Development Plan which will affect some villagers more directly than others, but it is important to acknowledge that the Plan will dissolve Hong Kong’s border which will lead to a catastrophic butterfly effect – so the issue is broader than it is being portrayed to the public)
  2. “Professional protesters” get involved and present themselves to be the approachable “protest experts” to the concern group
  3. When the “protest” comes around, the “professional protesters” will allow the concern group/the subject of the matter to speak on stage to attract more people and media, generating public support. These “protesters” will wait for the perfect moment, very patiently, sometimes days for days (e.g. the anti brainwashing-national-education-curriculum protest)
  4. When the moment comes, the “professional protesters” will take to the stage and hijack the protest
  5. The “professional protesters” will make a moving statement praising the concern group/affected individuals for their courage and determination to take the matter on, making everyone’s blood boil and bringing the atmosphere to a climax
  6. The “professional protesters” will then call for a photo opportunity for the media to take pictures to commemorate the event – a trophy for them, as their image as frontline fighters is reinforced once again
  7. They then will give the stage back to the concern group, and begin negotiating with them what the next step should be, behind the scenes. The group and the supporters will be left there to carry on chanting, shouting slogans, or worse, singing songs. They will talk the concern group down and the typical reasons they give to call it a day are, “we have achieved a great deal” (the ultimate goal is far from being achieved!), “you guys are really tired”, “the government and the public have heard our voice”, “let’s be strategic and focus our energy on our next move”, “the public is clearly on our side, look at the turnout!”
  8. The tired concern groups are talked down and their passion is weakened. Because of the “credibility” these “professional protesters” enjoy, the concern group believes in the key advice given by these “protest experts” – it is a long term game
  9. When they persuade the concern group successfully, the “professional protesters” retake the stage and announce on behalf of the concern group that, “we have made our voice heard today/tonight! We could not have done all this without you and the support of the people of Hong Kong, right? (every one shouts YEAH!)” and then, “let’s give ourselves a round of applause!”
  10. The “professional protesters” will then talk their way out and conclude the protest. The protest ends peacefully without challenging the regime, the government, the people in power – in fact the protest is concluded without achieving any of the goals originally set, let alone any demands being fulfilled.

Protests in Hong Kong end peacefully, every time, but no one ever asks why even though 99% of these protests preserve the status quo. No one follows up, and the “professional protesters” carry on looking for other topics and issues to dominate in order to build their reputations as the “face of democracy, and the power of the people” despite the fact that they have done, almost always, more harm than good.

Truth be told, people’s movements require no leader. Unfortunately, Hongkongers do not seem to be able to function without a leader in any circumstances – that is exactly why many Hongkongers began to use the term “Kong-sheep” to describe ourselves: desperate to follow.

In some recent occasions, anonymous protesters have volunteered to participate in protests even though the subject matter does not directly affect them. These protesters do not buy into the routine “professional protesters” practice throughout all these years, but believe that when the government is dysfunctional and can no longer be trusted, the people should overthrow it.

Source: Daily Telegraph

To Hong Kong’s eternal grief, these volunteers are always abandoned on-site without fail. The “professional protesters” will always stop them by taking the moral high grond: “this is not what the concern group wants! They want a peaceful and rational protest!” “Violence is bad in any circumstances (no matter what the government has done and what bloodless violence the regime has engaged in)!” All these may sound perfect at the point when a true peoples’ movement begins, but to a dictatorship or a government that is not accountable to its people, it is more than music to their ears!

Without disrupting the system by disobeying those in power, the people have zero chance to achieve what they demand – something these volunteering protesters understand. They are bold, but at the same time, they understand how corrupt the authorities and uniformed forces are. That is why they want to protect themselves with masks or cover – what we see as “black bloc” in many protests. However, the “professional protesters” will jump out to condemn these individuals as spies planted by the authorities and convince the “subjects of the protest (concern group)” to believe their story.

The individuals volunteering as protesters risk their personal safety for what they believe in, and for the concern group’s interests. However, they are being dismissed and often betrayed by the “professional protesters”.

Often times, lawmakers, who come across as being pro-democracy (a stand which once taken seems to lend a teflon quality to all adopters), are the first to condemn these “irrational acts” and even side with the authority to “prevent” any “violence” from happening again by endorsing the reinforcement of security around these events. Some even criticise protesters for wearing masks (surgical or otherwise Guy Fawkes masks) and demand that them surrender themselves to the police. If you read the news, you will find out who these people are.

Source: The Telegraph

Traitors of the people often come in disguise. Only when we realise who those traitors are can we break free from the burdens that have been laid on us all over the past decades, and really take control of the society that we want to make better.

If we continue to believe that the representatives in the legislative council will be able to resolve our problems, and lower our guard, we will be sold out. Because many of them, politicians or “experts”, are no different from the corrupt. Perhaps with the exception of the care with which they have painted their masks to gain the seats that you and I pay for.

Future president of Egypt? What about Hong Kong?

I stumbled into this video the other day, and I couldn’t help but think “why isn’t a single Hong Kong child able to do this” (of course, there’s a big assumption here: the English subtitle is accurate).

The  people of Hong Kong are not encouraged for individual thinking. Education is all about reciting materials and getting good grades in exams. Back in the old days, the British Hong Kong government encouraged people to study but never encourage people to think independently. The Hong Kong SAR government, even worse! They inject the pro-Peking and pro-Communist thoughts into the students’ brains before they are old enough to “think”…

A so-called Basic Law handbook for primary school students says that Taiwan is China’s sacred land, and the Chief Executive of Hong Kong must “love China and love Hong Kong” – none of these are related to the Basic Law.

The worse I’ve seen so far is “Chief Executive enjoys a more superior legal status than the administrative, legislative and judicial functions of Hong Kong”. It also says “administrative, legislative and judicial functions balance each other’s power but also cooperate with each other, cooperation amongst these three functions is more important” – this is NONSENSE!! Separation of powers is what Hong Kong always practices, and there isn’t a need for cooperation between the three functions.

The younger generation in Hong Kong, thankfully, especially those who have not got a “professional” job tend to be more aware of the social issues – the reason, as I gathered, is that they are not afraid of rocking the boat. Those who have a high paid job and/or own properties worry about the property and stock market and stability of their jobs more than whether they have freedoms, democracy and fellow Hong Kongers’ livelihood (no formula powder for babies, sky high rent, expensive daily necessities, property hegemony, etc.).

They are very similar to the last generation of Hong Kongers who often nowadays say that the Brits did not give Hong Kong democracy (they would even say “you never had democracy and why suddenly want it now! we’ve got more freedom then before 1997). Epic fail in logic. Isn’t it? I am always in awe when they say this – since when democracy is something that’s given? It’s always something that people need to fight for. A metaphor: you never had anything but bake potato, and now you want more than just bake potato, you want a bit of corn beef as well! Why is not insane?

If Occupy Central is violent (breaking the law, woohooo!!), what about the protests in Turkey and Brazil? Blood was shed! The police in Hong Kong have become so bent that I do believe one day they will point their guns at the protesters (whether or not they can aim properly or know how to use their gun is another question). The convener of the Occupy Central movement did say though “if they see blood at the movement, they will retreat”. Without being prepared for the worst, there is no point to occupy anywhere. They still don’t understand that China will not back down unless you show to them that you have got the upper hand and have no fear. Chinese only bully those who are show weakness or weaker than them, fact! Have they done anything to Japan yet? No! Even though China’s been claiming that Senkaku Islands belong to them for all these years. If you engage China to negotiate, they will present you all the things that they want before speaking with you (just like what they did to the Brits in the 70s). By agreeing to their terms, means you’ve already lost half the negotiation – they know that you’re prepared to loose all of those they want. They can then try to take more from you and if it goes no where, they’d still get the “least they’re prepared to accept”, win-win situation for the Chinese. See?

Over and out

Is Occupy Central a Scam?

Here’s an interesting column piece today. An activist who contributes to AM730, a local Chinese language newspaper, commented on Occupy Central, a hot topic that pan-democrats and pro-Peking individuals debate and talk about an awful lot recently.

Occupy Central,  A Big Scam

Jimmy Lai, Martin Lee and the old hands, who are long perceived to be leaders of pan-democrats, have voiced their support for the “Occupy Central” proposal raised by Professor Benny Tai. All those who criticise the framework of their activity or those who are disappointed by the fact that no formula has been agreed for Hong Kong’s “general election” over the past decade (the standard which says “(it must) fulfill international human rights” eventually came out – Wow! And the Pope is Catholic!) are categorized as “intend to resolve the issue with violence, want to see bloodshed, want to hijack the activity” – some pro-democrats even questioned: if not doing it this way (peaceful demonstration that does not disrupt the social order), what other ways are there? Are we just going to sit and do nothing? In 2010, Democratic Party had a closed door negotiation with China Liaison Office about Hong Kong’s political reform, Helena Pik-wan Wong, the Deputy Convenor of the Alliance for Universal Suffrage, asked the public to wait for another 8 years (before HK can have universal suffrage in general election). The opposition then was also condemned to be dividing the pan-democrats, causing troubles, etc. Some questioned the opposition “if we do not pass the reform bill, what are we going to do? (Isn’t that better than) making no progress at all?” Where these very words are still vivid memories, the same thing is happening yet another time.

In the past, Hong Kongers looked up to the 4/June movement and saw it as the “halo” of democracy (a common term of reference to describe the holiness and nobility of a movement, I’d use “holy grail” in the following as I find it translates better, the word halo rhymes with Central in Cantonese). Those leaders who sacrificed touched people’s heart. Over twenty years have passed, those who passed away are still heroes, but to Hong Kongers they are not as close and powerful to us as the immediate threats and pain we face daily as our culture and livelihood being tormented and facing the ever intensifying chinafication.

Out-dated politicians are still holding on to the halo today. They failed to grasp the change of people’s sentiments. Instead, they turn to focus on constructing a scam that can bring them a new holy grail. To them, there isn’t much time left (why did they ask people to wait for a few years then? Shouldn’t they have apologised for betraying the people of Hong Kong?), they have to find something to do.

Occupy Central is certainly a powerful civil disobedience action. Whether or not it will bring universal suffrage in general election is still a mystery; joint resignation by pan-democrats at the Legislative Council to trigger bi-election, a way lower cost method for people to express their views compare to ten thousand people being arrested voluntarily (as suggested in the Occupy Central proposal), is not accepted; a complicated “Occupy Central guideline” that the general public doesn’t understand suddenly appeared. All these aim at prolonging their possession of the holy grail to secure the value of their continuous existence. Come on!

Hong Kong’s glorious era belongs to them. The dream of Hong Kong’s democracy belongs to them. The way they design and set out is the only way. “War is young men dying and old men talking”. Young thoughts always come to destroy (the old).

Hong Kong Universal Suffrage

As stated in Hong Kong Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, by 2007 Hong Kong people have the rights to elect their own leader, i.e. the Chief Executive. In 2004, the National People’s Congress of Communist China interpreted Basic Law to deny such rights, and in 2007 the NPC once again denied the universal suffrage of Chief Executive of Hong Kong. This constitute a breach of contract (i.e. Sino-British Joint Declaration). Nothing has changed so far. The “political reform” proposed by the Hong Kong SAR government clearly shown that PRC has not intention to demolish functional constituency (members of this constituency are not elected by all the people of Hong Kong, but a small group of so-called elites). The Democratic Party engaged in a closed door negotiation with the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government and voted for this proposal which essentially represents a decline of democracy in Hong Kong.

With the background above, the people of Hong Kong are increasingly displeased with China’s continuous interference of Hong Kongers’ rights and the hindrance of Hong Kongers’ demand for a democratic society.

In January 2013, Benny Yiu Ting Tai, an associate professor at The University of Hong Kong, announced his “Occupy Central” proposal. The proposal (as it develops over time) includes 7 steps: 10,000 participants signing declaration (taking a vow and pledge that they’re willing to take it to the street), live TV broadcast of discussion, electronic voting on formula (of universal suffrage), referendum on formula, Super-Seat Legislative Council member resign and trigger another referendum, legal and affect-no-social-order movement, occupy Central in July 2014.

The notion Occupy Central received a lot of attention, and supports of the public when it was first announced (without any of the above steps). However, as Professor Tai’s theory develops, debates arise – will this actually work?

Hong Kong has been fighting for universal suffrage of its own Chief Executive for a long time. The bottom line for any democratic election is that candidates running for the leader of a society election will not be sift from a number of candidates by any sort of committee and finally be elected by the people – 1 person 1 vote. All Legislative Council members are elected by the people, again 1 person 1 vote.

The pro-Peking (PRC) individuals jumped out to defend China’s position recently as the debate heats up. There are reports and rumours saying that there will be a “pre-election” before the universal suffrage in 2017, meaning a selection of candidates will be elected by a committee controlled by the PRC. The PRC government officials also said that “the CE must love China and love Hong Kong”, putting China in front of Hong Kong, the place the CE will govern, and setting “love China” as a criteria is simply not acceptable nor necessary. The same official also said that “PRC will not accept a CE that is not patriotic” – this means that Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong is only a myth. Not to mention the fact that PRC as a nation is hijacked by the China Communist Party, if one is not loyal to the Party means that he/she is not patriotic.

Regina Ip (former Security Secretary in Hong Kong who pushed for Article 23) even said “pre-election” exists in any democratic society. This is complete rubbish – the so-called “pre-election” in democratic societies are elections each political party hold to choose the representative from the party to run for office.