Tuesday, January 09, 2018

[EJinsight] Pan-dems must stay united and keep up the fight

The pro-democracy camp went through a rough patch in 2017, and we are far from out of the woods yet. In 2018, what we need most, definitely, is unwavering unity.

Even though Beijing has promised that the social and economic system of Hong Kong would remain unchanged for 50 years after the handover, and there are still 30 years to go, our city has, much to our dismay, witnessed a massive regression in our systems and core values in recent years, thanks to Beijing's overall jurisdiction over Hong Kong.

In 2016, our government unjustifiably stripped a number of young activists of their right to stand for the Legco election based on their political views and the contents of their campaign advertisements.

Next, Beijing moved the goalposts with the interpretation of the Basic Law by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) and disqualified six lawmakers who had been rightfully voted into office by about 200,000 eligible voters in Hong Kong.

Then came the jailing of some young pro-democracy activists.

And last November, the Hong Kong government pushed a motion on "co-location arrangement" at the West Kowloon terminus of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link through Legco in order to create a false impression that it had the public mandate to press ahead with the plan.

After that, the NPCSC quickly passed a resolution officially giving the green light to this unconstitutional proposal.

The NPCSC decision over the co-location arrangement, which will see mainland border control officials operating within a part of the West Kowloon terminus, is something akin to malware.

As to why our government has so eagerly and voluntarily given up its jurisdiction over the Mainland Port Area in the West Kowloon terminus in the absence of solid legal and constitutional grounds, there can only be one possible reason: to clear all the hurdles for Beijing so that it can advance its ultimate agenda, i.e. the enactment of Article 23 of the Basic Law.

As Professor Eric Cheung Tat-ming, principal lecturer with the faculty of law of the University of Hong Kong pointed out in a recent newspaper article, since the co-location arrangement is likely to be declared null and void by our court on the grounds that the plan is unconstitutional, he expected the NPCSC may once again unilaterally interpret the Basic Law so as to justify its decision.

What Beijing is attempting to do right now can't be more clear: to completely override the Basic Law as well as our judicial system, at the expense of Hong Kong’s rule of law.

Once Beijing has succeeded in getting its way over the co-location arrangement, then the next thing it is likely to do would be enforcing the enactment of Article 23 of the Basic Law.

And if Beijing succeeds in doing so, it would be so much for "one country, two systems". It would just be a matter of time before Hong Kong would one day relive the tragedy of the late Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo.

In face of Beijing’s imminent onslaught, we must do whatever we can to resist.

Sadly, the pro-democracy camp can no longer put up any decent fight in Legco against Beijing's oppression, thanks to the unjust amendments to the Rules of Procedure blatantly made by the pro-establishment camp.

The pro-democracy camp is now being forced into a tight corner, and we are left with no other option apart from mounting a last desperate stand.

That said, the most urgent task lying before us is to take back our lost seats in Legco, snatched by Beijing one by one, in the upcoming by-elections in March and rebuild our last line of defense in Hong Kong legislature.

The clenched iron fist of Beijing is now looming large on the horizon. The upcoming Legco by-elections are very crucial as to whether the pro-democracy camp is able to win back in the round and regroup themselves.

It is my most sincere New Year wish that the pro-democracy camp can stay united both inside and outside the legislature, and take back all three seats in the Legco by-elections so as to say "no" to authoritarian rule with our votes.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Jan 3 2018

Translation by Alan Lee