The results are out for Hong Kong’s district council elections 2019. The pro-establishment camp suffered an unprecedented landslide defeat. Despite all the videos shared on social media condemning the protesters, I’ve never doubted the mindset of the overwhelming majority. No, this is not Myanmar, the military didn’t move in, even though some bloodthirsty folks might have wished that they did and let them have things their way.
The following quote is not an opinion piece. It’s a report on the actual results of the HK elections. South China Morning Post 7.33am 25/11/2019:
The anti-establishment reverberations from almost six months of street protests swept through polling stations across Hong Kong on Sunday, as voters in record numbers roundly rejected pro-Beijing candidates in favour of pan-democrats.
The tsunami of disaffection among voters was clear across the board, as pan-democrats rode the wave to win big in poor and rich neighbourhoods, in both protest-prone and non-protest-afflicted districts and, in downtown areas as well as the suburbs.
Less immediately obvious was whether there was a generational divide in the way people voted, but ousted pro-establishment district councillors suggested that young, first-time voters had been instrumental in dislodging them from their perch.
And this was what the trusting subscribers to the Straits Times received this morning, also 25/11/2019.
If your prediction had been the same as that of the experts at ST, then you’re way off the mark. If you have no opinion but rely entirely on the Straits Times to guide you, you may also like to know that many far less qualified people have a much better grasp of what’s going on. The folks here are just slightly more civilised than the bloodthirsty ones I mentioned at the beginning. They don’t want Singaporeans to have even a fraction of the Hong Kongers’ courage and determination which they have also misread and underestimated.
Much as I like to congratulate Hong Kongers on this victory, it’s not known if the authorities would come down even harder on the protesters after being thus embarrassed. Many ignorant Singaporeans mock at Hong Kong’s democracy, pointing out that it won’t last long and all the while, they have been goading the PLA to spill some blood because as an oppressed and soulless people with only money as a comforter, they just abhor those who dare to stir shit and make them look like cowards without principles they could stake their lives and well-being on.
While it may be true that Hong Kong’s democracy is probably going to be temporary, these folks remain convinced that if the British didn’t give Hong Kongers democracy, then they have neither right nor reason to ask for it from their hard-nosed communist masters. Except that it’s the communist masters who (once upon a time) voluntarily gave democracy to Hong Kongers. I’m sure our experts haven’t forgotten that, or have they?
To begin, let’s get one thing straight. Universal suffrage (one of the demands) has always been enshrined in Hong Kong’s Basic Law. It’s certainly not unreasonable to demand for it. If the authorities feel humiliated, then that’s because they have gone back on a promise. The HK bashers are probably not aware of one other thing. The Basic Law was drafted after the Sino-British Joint Declaration was signed in 1984. It expanded and elaborated on the latter. The committee in charge of drafting the Basic Law comprised 36 mainlanders and 23 Hong Kongers. There was not a single Westerner in the team. Chris Patten tried to add things to the Basic Law, but the promise of universal suffrage was already in there. The Basic Law was finalised and approved by Beijing in 1990. It’s true that the British did not give Hong Kongers democracy. It was China that gave Hong Kong democracy. Surprised? Why?
- Because emigration was already a reality back then and the central government was worried about a mass exodus of Hong Kongers.
- Because in 1989, there was a massive democracy movement on the mainland. Tiananmen was the main event. There were numerous side shows in the provinces.
- Because even though the movement was crushed, leaders believed that there were more to come.
- Because later that year, the Berlin Wall came down.
- Because 2 years later in 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed.
- Because nobody observing events happening back then had any doubt that China would be next.
It’s not difficult to imagine that everyone in that 59-member committee drafting Hong Kong’s Basic Law (including the 36 mainlanders) believed that by 2047, China will have a political system very similar to that in Hong Kong. Well, it’s 2019 now and unfortunately that seems unlikely to happen but the committee didn’t know back then, which was a huge blessing for Hong Kong. Why didn’t China democratise as expected? The main culprit is the WTO. After China joined the WTO in 2001, its growth went beyond everybody’s expectation. China’s leaders came to the stark realisation that they didn’t have to push for democratic reforms to get exponential economic growth as long as they cheated on WTO obligations. WTO members complained, but they naively believed that Chinese minds would eventually open up as the country progressed economically. Not only that, China’s enormous market became a bargaining chip for it to have its many transgressions forgiven.
Spectacular waves of growth and development drowned out all the democratic ideals of 1989. Even Americans who dealt with them had their principles and ideals obviated. Now that is what I call “foreign interference”, albeit a form that gave China an unfair advantage. Not surprisingly, the democracy movement in China was reduced to a whimper. Everyone was happy and worshiping the same god – money. Communism not only survived, it has reared its ugly head and revived its tight grip on the people’s lives. Lulled by their newfound wealth, people feel that all this tyranny is necessary for stability (and prosperity) and they decide to ignore all the broken promises and live happily ever after.
The opiate of wealth did not work with Hong Kongers because for the 22 years after 1997, they have been exploited rather than taken care of. The central government now has the upper hand and sees no need to keep its end of the bargain. They only “listen humbly” as the CCP did when Hong Kongers were leaving the territory in droves pre-1997. The danger of having just one party ruling throughout is that you can’t hold them accountable for broken promises.
Only one thing can bring back the trend of the late 1980s and early 1990s – a massive economic crisis. And only two things can bring that on. 1. Donald Trump 2. Hong Kong. We are all afraid of economic crises. They are painful but so is bitter medicine. Sometimes, countries or people who have lost their way in the economic jungle may need a crisis to help them relocate their conscience and humanity.