By Rick Mak
Never have we seen Hongkongers being so indifferent; when the Chief Executive was on the verge of tears no one seems to have any sympathy for him. This surprise move from Leung Chun-ying is in fact hardly a surprise though.
He appeared choking with sobs lamenting “every grain of rice comes from hardship” just as the race for the city’s top job is getting intense, even before the newly elected lawmakers were sworn in. All the signs seem to indicate that the incumbent can hardly wait and is desperate to secure a ticket to enter the race.
The people have spoken through the Legco election
In this year’s Legislative Council election, the pan-democrats only enjoyed a small win over the pro-establishment camp when you look at the number of seats they won. But in terms of momentum, it is clearly on the side of the pro-democracy camp while the pro-Beijing forces suffered a huge setback.
The victory may seem trivial with the pan-democrats gaining a seat or two more when their opponents are guaranteed the control of the legislative body with one half of the Legislative Council — the functional constituencies — being their stronghold dominated by vested interests.
In the remaining half — the geographical constituencies — the pro-establishment camp has their “iron votes” which leaves the pro-democracy camp with the best hope of winning over half of the directly elected seats so as to hold fast to their veto power. What’s worse is that the pan-democrats this year appeared to be more fragmented than ever with too many lists of candidates running for the same number of seats. The disadvantages at first did seem overwhelming for the pan-democrats.
Youth participation in politics is unstoppable
The growing number of young people participating in local politics will certainly change the way elections are conducted. You may not agree with their political views, but now their rights to stand in election have been taken away.
The young activists have become a new political force in its own right. It is more than likely that the young people will strive on, against all odds, to voice their thoughts on what kind of a leader our city needs in the upcoming election for the Election Committee which will pick the Chief Executive next year.
Change long overdue after four years of disaster
Given how “extraordinary” the current Chief Executive’s performance has been, no matter whether you have taken it as a fact of life or are still angry about the level of governance, it is perhaps time for reflection; why has our political system allowed such a person to be elected and given him a free hand ruining our city? Should such a political system subject to a major overhaul?
An election that is free and fair is not only one of the cornerstones of a developed economy where there are free flow of information and freedom of expression, it is also a key deterrent to filter the vicious and prevent them from taking power, even when it fails to pick the most suitable leaders. As to whether the institutions of Hong Kong still have such immunity today, just look at what remains of our rule of law and freedoms. All of us have a pretty good idea of how things stand.
The Chief Executive is meant to be a unifying figure
The public has been shown how Leung Chun-ying has no qualms about using the powers given to him by his public office in settling private matters, be it his receipt of a secret payment of HK$50 million from an Australian firm without declaration, or how he abused his authority to make exceptions to airport security rules for his family members when it comes to check-in luggage.
Even if we leave these incidents aside, it is chilling that this leader of our city, just for the sake of his political career, would not hesitate to implicitly fan support for Hong Kong to gain independence — a notion that never entered the mainstream in society until he brought it up.
As a matter of fact, it has now become clear that many in the establishment too have been victims during Leung’s time as the Chief Executive. Just look at the many promises he made to pro-government parties on policy matters that saw no progress or, in some cases, even went backwards.
All this has only added to the ill-repute of the pro-government parties. Those in the establishment are now keener than ever to unseat Leung, starting with making reports to Beijing about Leung’s incompetence, leading to the recent series of front-page stories in Sing Pao that name and shame Leung.
It is hard to imagine how even the different factions in the pro-establishment camp can endure him for another five years.
The majority of Hongkongers have never been idealistic or radical. But now even such a pragmatic bunch are willing to queue outside polling stations well after midnight on Monday, those in power should wake up to the people’s warning: an overwhelming number of Hongkongers want transparent politics.
If we are to be continually denied the right to elect a leader who has credibility and is capable of unifying society, the calls for independence will become a genuine political demand that might lead to a real disaster.
Rick Mak is a member of IT Voice and a software engineer.