Tuesday, 24 December 2019

What are the costs and benefits of the current protests?

LETTER TO SCMP [published on December 29, here]
What are the costs and benefits of the current protests? 
The costs are clear. Billions of dollars in shop closures, unemployment, reduced visitor numbers, starved charities.
But what are the upsides? What are the benefits of the protests? Surely there are some?
So far, I can think of only one. The extradition bill was withdrawn shortly after the first protests. Conclusion: (a) the protests were effective and (b) the government was responsive.
But protests continued. Have they gained any more upside? Well, now it's "Five Demands" not just one.
Three of these extra demands are only because of the protests. Not because they are causes fought for.
These are the "self-centred demands":
1. Stop calling us "rioters".
2. Give us all Amnesty, and …
3. Investigate the police (but not us!)
1. You can't stop calling rioters "rioters" if in fact they are... rioters. It does violence to language to demand otherwise.
2.  The second demand does violence to the rule of law, which the protesters claim to champion. How can we give blanket amnesty to people who have killed bystanders and set people on fire?  
3.  Investigate the police… but don't investigate any of the wanton vandalism of the protesters? This one does violence to the concept of fairness. 
That leaves only the last "Demand" which is for universal suffrage. But trying to achieve this by violent protest is doomed to failure. Thinking otherwise is delusional. Universal suffrage is not a "promise" is being broken by Beijing (as is so often claimed).  The Basic Law makes it clear: The Chief Executive is to be selected by "election or through consultations held locally" and "the method small be specified in the light of the actual situation". No promise there. And the "actual situation" has clearly moved against it.
What this means is that what has been achieved by the protests and what will be achieved is: ZERO.
An essentially nativist and populist movement has been romanticised to being "pro-democrat". It is not. 
It's past time we faced reality: the protests are hugely costly without a single benefit. They must stop. Perhaps then we can get back to the "actual situation" allowing discussion of how to proceed with universal suffrage.

Pf etc…