Saturday, 14 September 2013

"Universal vote desirable but no panacea"

My letter published today, in South China Morning Post
Universal vote desirable but no panacea
Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee says that universal suffrage, though necessary, is no cure-all ("Governance in the time of chaos", September 1).
I think she may be right in that.
We recently had a family discussion on that very issue. Our son - born and brought up in Hong Kong and now studying in the UK - said that Hong Kong already has so many positives: free media, freedom of speech, clean government and judiciary, law and order with low crime rate and so on. He claims these areas are at least as good as and in some cases better (for example, lower crime rates) than in Britain. He asked in what way would any of these be improved by universal suffrage.
My answer was that it ought to be a universal right and would lessen the need for people to take to the streets over every grievance. But still, my son's point stuck in my mind: what, precisely, would be improved in today's Hong Kong by having universal suffrage? Just a "feel-good" factor and having fewer protests?
I'm no less a supporter of the need for China to stick by promises of universal suffrage for the CE by 2017, but still. It got me thinking that Mrs Ip may well be correct about universal suffrage, that "it would be foolish to pretend that it would be a cure-all for our problems".
Those problems, by the way, ought to be kept in perspective. Compared with the Middle East, our "problems" are of an order that many would love to have.
Peter Forsythe, Discovery Bay