Saturday, 28 December 2019

Protesters did scare away some pro-government voters

Above is the offices of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong (DAB)
I got some pushback to my letter claiming that some pro-government voters had been scared off voting in the November District Council elections. “Where was the proof?” they asked. And true, it was hard to find online proof. All I had was hearsay. 
Regina Ip, long-term Legislative Councillor, makes my point today, rather forcefully. And online there’s a link to another story with pix of protesters vandalising pro-government candidates’ offices.
So, that’s some proof, right there.
I knew Regina back in my government service days. She’s one tough cookie. Hardline, pro-government, sure, but I’d trust her as a woman of sound integrity. When she lost the battle over Article 23, which she was in charge of, she didn’t complain. She resigned to take responsibility.
I’ve copied her letter today, below the fold. (With apologies for some of the weird formatting):
I refer to the letter from Professor C.K. Woo of the Education University of Hong Kong (“
Why democracy matters in Hong Kong: eight lessons from the district council elections
”, December 2).
I strongly dispute his assertion that a “fair and open election” was held on November 24. Nothing could be further from the truth. Although there was a temporary lull in violence just before the elections, the district offices of many pro-establishment district councillors and candidates were vandalised in the run-up to the elections – with some set on fire several times.
Many candidates were harassed so intensely that they could not go out to canvass votes. Some had to call in the police for protection, after having been harangued and practically incarcerated in their offices for hours.
There were serious flaws in the polling arrangements. The elderly and those with disabilities had to wait for hours in the sun before they could vote. Some polling stations made special arrangements for them. Some did not That was very unfair to many elderly people who dropped out after queuing for hours.
The biggest irony is that the polling outcomes did not bring peace. Violent protests returned to the city the following weekend and have continued over the Christmas holidays.
Shops, restaurants and other business establishments have been vandalised again. On December 1, an innocent bystander who tried to clear road blockages was severely injured when a protester hit his head with a hard object. Citizens who disagreed with the rioters were again viciously attacked.
Last month’s district council elections only served to legitimise street violence and the doctrine that “might is right”. Whoever disagreed with the masses risked being heckled or beaten up. The so-called fair, open and transparent elections did not advance freedoms. They only gave the violent mob a mandate to suppress the freedoms of others.
There is no glory in what the violent protesters did, and no future for Hong Kong if the serial protests and violence cannot be stopped.
I hope Professor Woo would refrain from painting a false, romantic vision of free and fair elections in Hong Kong to his students. Young people must not be guided into believing that their rights and freedoms have been suppressed. We are freer than many Western democracies in many ways.
Regina Ip, member, Legislative Council