Monday, 25 November 2019

Pro-government, pro-Beijing camps suffer crushing defeat

Today’s front page. Snaking queues at
the Aberdeen voting centre
Well, it didn’t go the way I’d hoped; it went the way I’d feared — that is, yesterday’s District Council elections here in Hong Kong. But I’m OK with that. I believe in “loser’s compliance” (is that the word?). When you lose, you have to do it with grace. (Like Roger or Novak). And If you can’t do it with grace, then bite your tongue and accept it anyway. Suck it up. 
In fact, I’m strangely exhilarated. Perhaps something good will come of this. Perhaps some attention: (a) to an independent investigation into the whole shamozzle and (b) restarting talks on universal suffrage. Perhaps.
ADDED: I need to clarify. I’m not against democracy. Who is? But I was, and am, against the violence that was tolerated, if not encouraged by the so-called “pan-Dems”, and I remain against anyone pushing for independence for Hong Kong, because the spread of that sentiment will only bring down Beijing’s wrath upon us. Let’s secure the freedoms we have, and lobby for them to go beyond 2047, rather than tilt against the independence windmill. And that’s why I voted for the Independent candidate Jonathan Chow, instead of the representative of the Civic Party that supports the independence outfit Demosisto, and stirs violence by its public statements. But, we lost. So we live with it, suck it up and hope that the gains of pan-Dems are not seen as a green light for more violence. (13’20” HKT).
The result was — quoting commentators this morning —  a “bloodbath”, a “crushing defeat” for pro-government, pro-Beijing candidates. More than 71% — 2.9 million — of the electorate voted, a record, and the pan democratic candidates won some 90% 86% -- 388 of the 450 seats. 90% 86%!! Like, wow, man… that’s getting up there with North Korea. Just kidding: the voting was free, fair and open. Not just me saying that, but international observers as well.
      [ADDED: total votes not quite as dramatic due to first-past-the-post policy: 55% for pan-Dems        and 41% for pro-government].
Many of the new faces are very young. And the pundits are saying good to have them in some position of authority to they can get a feel for doing things rather than protesting and destroying things. If they succeed they can step up to contesting Legislative Council elections in a few years. Cross fingers. 
The District Councils, mind, are not policy bodies. They work on local issues, garbage collection, recycle bins, bus-stop locations, that sort of thing. But they do have a say in the make up of the Electoral Committee (which chooses Chief Executive candidates) with the right to elect 117 of its 1200 members. In that sense they do have an influence on the choice of the next Chief Executive. 
A difficulty may be what one describes as “stickiness” in the chain of command between the local government, the Liaison Office of the PRC and Beijing.  And the stickiness’ effect on what comes out of Beijing in reaction to this "tsunami of disaffection". 
Here in Discovery Bay I voted for Independent candidate Jonathan Chow. He lost to the long-sitting Amy Yung of the Civic Party by about the same margin of loss back in 2007 when I chaired the campaign committee of Michael Leung who went after Amy. She had then “rusted-on” voters and those same voters came out again yesterday. Vote yesterday, Discovery Bay seat in Lantau constituency: Amy Yung, 2072. Jonathan Chow, 1172. Margin, exactly 900. Or exactly one hundred more than when I chaired Leung’s campaign when we lost by “just” 800. Is that some kind of victory?!…
Maybe something good will come of yesterday. Let’s hope so.
Hedging bets… maybe something bad will come of the results instead, from up north or here. After all, this is a government, on the mainland, that locks up Uygur Muslims to brainwash them. Are they going to turn around to us and say “fair play”? “You got us. Let’s sit down now and discuss universal suffrage”? Unlikely. Just got to hope that Beijing doesn’t react in the toughest way. And hope this tin-eared local government finally decides to do something about the widespread discontent, something other than sitting on its hands and wailing about the violence.
Or something bad might come from here: what if the protesters take the results as a green light to intensify their violence, if they don’t immediately get what they want?

Coverage at the Post. A “tsunami” of disaffection. 
Celebrating pan-Dem wins. Social media said: don’t wear black!
(Black: the colour of choice for protesters). Good move.

ADDED (I): Tin-eared as ever, the Chinese “liaison office” here in HK has just issued a statement saying that whatever the result of these District Council elections, Hong Kong remains part of China. Riiiiight. (12:30 pm HKT).
ADDED (II):  Our stock market index, the Hang Seng, has risen 1% so far today. (12:45).