Monday, 28 October 2019

Universal suffrage in Hong Kong was not a “promise”

From the New York Times today:
Their [protesters] goals: to seek police accountability and secure the universal suffrage that they say Beijing promised when this former British colony was returned to China in 1997.
Universal suffrage for Hong Kong is determined in our constitution which is the Basic Law, as signed off by China and Britain in 1990. Here is what the relevant article says:

You do not need to be a lawyer to see that you can drive a truck through the loopholes: “selected by election or through consultations…”, “actual situation” and “gradual and orderly progress” amongst them.
That’s the Basic Law. Separately Beijing did not “promise” universal suffrage. I know, because I remember. I was here at the time of discussions leading up to the Basic Law. The protesters, mostly teenagers, were not. Thus the idea of a “promise” is a fantasy. And so, therefore, is the alleged “breaking” of it.
The “actual situation” is what determines movement to universal suffrage and today’s “actual situation” can hardly give Beijing any comfort.
We must recall that a move towards universal suffrage was offered in 2014 after the Occupy demos. It involved a larger selection committee voted by District Councillors, themselves elected by universal suffrage. I remember thinking, good, go for it. It’s a step ahead.  But, no, for the pan-Democratic parties it was a Veto because they didn’t get a hundred percent of what they wanted, immediately. Perfection the enemy of the good.
It is wrong to say (or believe) that Beijing “promised” universal suffrage and it’s wrong to say (or believe) that the Hong Kong government has done zip to move it forward.
And if they think that either Hong Kong or Beijing can or will move on the issue in the face of violent vandalism they’re deluded.
This delusion joins many others. Amongst them that the police have secretly murdered people, that the police are the cause of current protests, that what’s going on is not “rioting”, that the vandalism of MTR stations is carried out by undercover police, that the police ought to be disbanded, FFS!