By Joyce Lim
Hong Kong Correspondent
The Straits Times
Holding over 25% of the votes, they aim to stop Beijing’s preferred candidate Carrie Lam
Edward Chan King-sang says courts, not electoral officials, should make calls on whether candidates faked pledges
By Shirley Zhao
South China Morning Post
The government’s decision to disqualify localist candidates from running in next month’s Legislative Council elections will have a “long and deep” negative impact on Hong Kong’s legal system, former Bar Association chairman Edward Chan King-sang said yesterday.
Chan’s comments came as outgoing lawmaker Emily Lau Wai-hing of the Democratic Party, wrote a letter yesterday to the Human Rights Committee under the United Nations about the “disturbing development”, condemning the rejections and calling on the committee to “take urgent action”.
Electoral officials had cited the candidates’ pro-independence stance as against the Basic Law, and that they did not “genuinely” respect and uphold the mini-constitution even after some had signed a declaration stating so.
Chan said if supporting Hong Kong independence was a crime and candidates were found guilty by the court, they could be disqualified even after they were elected.
Therefore it should also be up to the court, not electoral officers, to decide whether candidates had faked their pledges.
“[Faking pledges] is a very serious accusation,” said Chan in a Commercial Radio programme. “The legal system should be the one to decide whether candidates are guilty of this.”
Chan claimed officials and civil servants, who did not have legal power and should be objective, were letting politics “eat into” the legal system by bypassing it and passing judgment themselves.
Six pro-independence candidates, including Edward Leung Tin-kei of Hong Kong Indigenous, were disqualified from the September 4 elections by the Electoral Affairs Commission. A recent survey showed Leung could have won a seat if he had been allowed to run.
The city’s justice chief Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung on Wednesday defended the commission’s decisions, saying the returning officer’s call to invalidate Leung because she felt he had no intention of upholding the Basic Law, “had a legal basis”.
But Chan said the law is allowed to be amended and a person could uphold the law while wanting to change it. He added it could be argued that a lawmaker could pursue independence via discussions with the government and Beijing on law amendment.
A government spokesman countered that the Basic Law stipulates any amendment should not be against the central government’s principle policies on Hong Kong, which included that the city is an inalienable part of China. He said law amendment should not be allowed to become a means for reaching the goal of independence.
Meanwhile, Professor Lau Siu-kai, vice-chairman of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, warned Beijing might use more tactics to control pro-independence people.
He said the central government, facing increasing tension in international affairs and internal conflicts such as in Tibet and Xinjiang, could feel it needed to be more strong-handed on Hong Kong affairs and block localists’ path into Legco.
HONG KONG: Candidates banned from standing for election in Hong Kong because they are advocating a split from mainland China led the city’s first pro-independence rally on Friday (Aug 5) as tension over the upcoming vote escalates.
Five pro-independence candidates who tried to register were rejected by election officials who said their stance went against Hong Kong’s mini-constitution.
Critics have slammed the move as censorship as fears grow over Beijing interference in the semi-autonomous city in a range of areas, from politics to media and education.
A park near the government’s harbourfront headquarters filled with thousands of supporters through Friday evening.
Andy Chan (C), 25, leader of the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party and a disqualified candidate of upcoming elections, gives a press conference at the start of a rally near the government’s headquarters in Hong Kong on August 5, 2016. (Photo: AFP/Anthony Wallace)
Most sat calmly on the grass, many of them holding “Hong Kong Independence” placards and flags, as they listened to activists speak.
They applauded as banned candidate Edward Leung, the leader of new party Hong Kong Indigenous who is gaining a growing following, addressed the crowds.
“Hong Kong’s sovereignty does not belong to (Chinese President) Xi Jinping, does not belong to the authorities, and does not belong to the Hong Kong government. It belongs to the Hong Kong people,” said Leung.
Protester Satomi Cheng, a 49-year-old office manager, said many in the city were angry about China’s tightening grip. “Day by day our human rights … are taken away by the Hong Kong government and the Chinese government,” she told AFP.
Some acknowledged that independence was a pipe dream in the face of a powerful Beijing, but said the city was running out of options. “China has destroyed Hong Kong politics … we are supporting freedom and democracy,” said student Clayton Chow, 19.
Andy Chan, 25, leader of the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party and a disqualified candidate, said the rally was a chance to talk about the future.
Pro-independence activists including Chan have previously advocated violence – he said they had now decided that would not work. “We don’t want people to get hurt or arrested, so we want to start with a public meeting and hopefully it will be a healthy path for us to get stronger,” he told AFP.
As Chan wrapped up the rally he shouted “Hong Kong Independence”, a chant echoed back to him by the jubilant crowd.
NO MORE TABOO
The idea of independence is dismissed as illegal by Beijing and Hong Kong authorities, and was a taboo subject until recent months, when new parties emerged campaigning for a breakaway.
They evolved out of the “localist” movement of mainly young campaigners disappointed after mass rallies in 2014, known as the Umbrella Movement, failed to win concessions from China on political reform.
Localist groups are pushing for more autonomy for Hong Kong and characterise it as culturally separate from the mainland.
Some localists do not advocate independence, but are instead pushing for self-determination for Hong Kong, an idea which has taken root among other pro-democracy campaigners.
Demosisto, a new party set up by Umbrella Movement activists including well-known campaigner Joshua Wong, has made self-determination its central platform, although it does not cast itself as a localist organisation.
Those calling for self-determination have been allowed to stand in September’s legislative vote.
The ban on activists supporting a complete break from the mainland has triggered widespread anger across the pro-democracy camp. Thirty leading lawyers also came out against the move.
But Jasper Tsang, the outgoing president of the city’s legislature, insisted it was legal. “The government and people from all walks of life don’t want to see the election becoming a stage for promoting Hong Kong independence,” he told reporters.
Hong Kong was handed back to China by Britain in 1997 under an agreement that protects its freedoms for 50 years, but concern is growing that those liberties are disappearing.
Hong Kong student leader Joshua Wong blasted in China govt video — “Only a weak and worthless nation finds it necessary to make war on one teen ager.” (Contains links to many related articles)
South China Morning Post
Sunday, May 8, 2016
The central government fears cross-border relations could be destabilised if growing calls for independence are not curbed, according to an academic at a Beijing-backed think tank.
Speaking on RTHK yesterday, Professor Lau Siu-kai, a vice-chairman of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, said at the moment Beijing did not consider the movement a significant political force that needed to be taken seriously.
But he stressed: “In principle and emotionally, the central government cannot accept advocacy for independence and self-determination … That’s because they challenge the country’s sovereignty and unity.”
With Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, scheduled to visit Hong Kong for three days this month, there has been speculations whether the state leader will comment on the recent rise in calls for the city’s independence.
Lau dismissed such suggestions. “I believe Zhang Dejiang’s visit is to strengthen the relationship between Hong Kong and the mainland, and to instil confidence in Hongkongers in the city’s future … not to create clashes or trigger resistance,” he said.
Zhang will be the first state leader to visit the city since 2012. He is scheduled to deliver a keynote speech at the Belt and Road Summit at the Convention and Exhibition Centre on May 18.
Lau also said he did not believe Zhang would comment on the chief executive election scheduled for next March.
“Talking about this now, particularly in disclosing any message from the central government, could make the political situation even more chaotic or bring up even more protests,” he said.
On Commercial Radio , former lawmaker Ronny Tong Ka-wah, founder of the Path of Democracy think tank, said cross-border tensions were caused by two factors.
On the one hand, he said the central government believed Hongkongers, particularly pan-democrats, did not respect its sovereignty in the city.
On the other, the pan-democratic camp had been slamming the central government for neglecting the core values of Hong Kong.
“If Beijing, especially when [Zhang] visits Hong Kong, could talk more about defending core values, or if the pan-democratic camp … could show more respect to Beijing’s sovereignty … I believe this could help resolve problems,” he said.
Tong criticised calls for self-determination, saying it was unclear what the advocates wanted.
“If they want [self-determination] within the [current] constitutional framework, then how is that different from fighting for democracy?”
Tong said that if advocates for self-determination rejected the “one country, two systems” principle, it would be no different from calling for independence.
Patrick Ho says proponents must stop depicting it as less than ideal
By Patrick Ho
South China Morning Post
When certain officials suggested that Hong Kong’s citizens should “pocket it first” when considering the government’s political reform package, there was an immediate public uproar.
Those opposed to the proposal, including several Legislative Council members and politicians, leapt in to criticise the package as a “knock-off”, “substandard”, “less than satisfactory” and an “interim proposal”.
They claimed that candidates who emerged as a result would be “rotten oranges”, and told citizens not to “pocket it first” or they would be stuck with it forever.
At the same time, the supporting parties have trapped themselves in a position of trying to sell a package that even they themselves consider to be “not ideal”. All who have stepped forward to defend it have been unable to plausibly explain this reform package to the public in a convincing manner and have been sheepish in their justification.
This lack of justification and confidence from the government makes it hard for the reform package to gain the trust and acceptance of the people, let alone that of the opposition. When the proponents themselves do not believe that this is a proposal for “true universal suffrage” that is in line with Hong Kong’s actual circumstances, how can they expect it to be accepted by the public?
In fact, asking people to “pocket it first” is to buy into the opponents’ erroneous assumption that it is possible to have an “ultimate proposal” that cannot be altered in future – this assumption runs counter to the reality of a changing world. Any proposal that is being offered can only be the best available.
The government’s political reform package is one such proposal – the best adapted to Hong Kong’s actual circumstances, and the best suited to the interests and welfare of the majority of Hongkongers as well as the rest of the country’s nearly 1.4 billion people. It is the most ideal proposal for true universal suffrage.
All citizens of Hong Kong should unanimously support this long-awaited opportunity; lawmakers should not deprive the people of this unprecedented right to “one man, one vote”.
That being said, a proposal that serves its purpose is one that may be amended according to future needs and continuously optimised in keeping with the times, so that it closely reflects the needs of social development.
Given this possibility, Article 7 of Annex I to the Basic Law clearly states that, “If there is a need to amend the method for selecting the chief executives for the terms subsequent to the year 2007, such amendments must be made with the endorsement of a two-thirds majority of all the members of the Legislative Council and the consent of the chief executive, and they shall be reported to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress for approval.”
In other words, the approach to true universal suffrage was never cast in stone. It must allow for the possibility of future change and adaptation based on the actual circumstances, whatever they may be.
This provision still exists and has not been removed, and, should the need arise in future, the door for further modification remains open.
I therefore implore our leaders and government officials to stop depicting this proposal for universal suffrage in terms of whether or not we should “pocket it first”.
This is a proposal for true universal suffrage, one that is best suited to Hong Kong’s current state of affairs, one that is in keeping with the times – realistic, pragmatic, and one that offers a vote to each and every one of Hong Kong’s 5 million eligible voters.
Dr Patrick Ho Chi-ping is a former secretary for home affairs and director of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies
Kahon Chan and Shadow Li, China Daily/ANN, Hong Kong
Violence against parallel traders and mainland visitors in Hong Kong has triggered widespread concern among academics and even the most radical faction in the opposition camp.
As of Thursday, at least seven people had been arrested for alleged violence related to anti-parallel trading protests staged on Sunday.
News footage showed an elderly man being bullied by a group of masked activists, and a young girl bursting into tears as her mother quarrelled with protesters.
Both the man and the mother had been pulling luggage near a protest rally. The man was later identified in media reports as a local resident who regularly plays music at a public park in the satellite town of Tuen Mun.
People protesting against parallel traders from the mainland gather at Hong Kong Rail’s Sheung Shui Station, March 8. (Photo/ CNS)
Parallel trading in Hong Kong refers to the phenomenon of mainland and Hong Kong traders taking goods from the city to the mainland, causing shortages of household goods in various locations in Hong Kong.
Protests against daily visitors from the mainland have swept northern areas of Hong Kong since early last month.
The first, a march, began in Tuen Mun on February 8 as an approved rally, but crowds ended up storming a shopping mall. The protests later spread to the towns of Yuen Long and Sha Tin.
Radical lawmakers from Hong Kong’s opposition camp, known for their filibusters in the Legislative Council that have stalled funding requests, on Wednesday stood together against Sunday’s incidents, saying that violence is unacceptable.
Lau Siu-kai, vice-president of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, said the opposition camp has drawn a clear line with the radical groups, which should help mounting calls for law enforcers to take stern action.
Dennis Wong Sing-wing, a sociology expert at City University of Hong Kong, said netizens have been elated by recent media exposure, which they had struggled to achieve previously.
Chung Kim-wah, a policy expert from Hong Kong Polytechnic University, said the protesters may feel they have received a further boost by the authorities’ move to revise the individual visit scheme for mainland residents.
Mainland Chinese plan “quarreling squads” to fight back Hong Kongers at border
Some mainland Chinese are reportedly planning to form a squad whose job will be to pick fights with Hong Kong residents, as anti-parallel trader sentiment has escalated in the administrative region, reports overseas Chinese news portal Duowei.
Anti-parallel trader campaigns have started to take place more and more in Hong Kong in protest of the numerous mainlanders who take advantage of the multi-entry visa policy to import goods from Hong Kong to mainland China, causing shortages of household goods for locals, especially in the north.
The protests have angered netizens in the mainland, however. A post looking to recruit individuals interested in scolding Hong Kongers was posted on the Weibo microblog recently. Members of the “quarreling squad” will receive a monthly salary of 3,000 yuan (US$480) and an extra 300 yuan (US$48) bonus for every Hong Konger they successfully bring to tears. The organized team will consist of 14 members, who will receive professional trainings to enhance their verbal skills and “angry looks.”
Chan Wing Kee, on the standing committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference said he has never heard of such a group but hopes that it is not true. Such an organization will only aggravate the conflict between the both sides.
There are indeed too many Chinese tourists in Hong Kong due to faulty regulations, though that does not make it right to drive them away, said Chan. He added that those who do display uncivilized behavior in Hong Kong may have come from some remote countryside and do not know common courtesy.
The whole world welcomes visitors, and thus it does not make sense if Hong Kong refuses to take in more. Some pick on the multi-entry visa policy, but if the policy is cancelled, meaning that less Chinese can come and go as they freely, the livelihoods of businesses around the border which depend on the Chinese tourists will be affected, said Chan.
Chan urged Hong Kong citizens not to take their discontent of the current situation to the tourists.
Tam Yiu-Chung, chairman of Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said the protests are put together by the few that do not represent the majority. It is meaningless to point fingers and he urged the mainlanders to be tolerant.
A spokesperson for an HK Indigenous activist group admitted that the anti-parallel trader campaign may have been too intense but he thinks that they have happened for a reason, which is to express the resentment of the people towards the government’s turning a blind eye to the problem of excessive parallel traders from the mainland.
Chan Wing Kee 陳永棋
Tam Yiu-Chung 譚耀宗
HK Indigenous 本土民主前線
Gary Cheung says if Beijing truly wants to win over Hong Kong people, reaffirmation of our ‘high degree of autonomy’ is a good start
By Gary Cheung
South China Morning Post
To reinstate or not, that was the question. Last year, the omission in a key national document of two oft-cited mantras on post-handover Hong Kong caused a stir in the city. For the first time since 2003, the phrases “Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong” and “a high degree of autonomy” were missing in the premier’s work report, raising questions about Beijing’s promises on Hong Kong under the “one country, two systems” formula.
Then, seemingly in response to the unease, Premier Li Keqiang reinstated the phrases in his 2014 work report delivered last week.
Why such a fuss was made over the inclusion or absence of two phrases must be understood in the context of Hong Kong’s peculiar political history.
In the first few years after the handover, Beijing adopted a low-key approach towards Hong Kong, as it was confident the city could be left to run on its own. But the “non-interference” policy ended with the 500,000-strong protest against national security legislation on July 1, 2003. The following year, Beijing asserted its power to decide Hong Kong’s political future with an interpretation of the Basic Law.
Tensions with the central government have eased somewhat since then – until recently. Unlike their predecessors, Xi Jinping and his generation of state leaders would sometimes omit these nods to the city’s unique status in their public speeches. In a meeting with Hong Kong tycoons last September, for example, Xi pledged that the central government would adhere to the “one country, two systems” principle but notably made no mention of Hong Kong’s “high degree of autonomy” or “Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong”.
But it was the absence of these phrases in Li’s work report a year ago that caused the most concern.
So far, no mainland officials have come forward to explain why they were reinstated this year. However, the remarks of one leading Beijing adviser on Hong Kong affairs may bring some comfort.
Qi Pengfei, the vice-chairman of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, said Beijing recognised the fears sparked by the omission of the phrases and put them back to set Hong Kong people’s minds at ease. This seems to show Beijing still cares about the feelings of the people.
However, winning over the hearts and minds of Hongkongers requires efforts beyond the insertion of two phrases in the premier’s work report.
When Zhu Rongji left out the phrases in his swansong work report in 2003, it caused little comment as, at the time, Beijing enjoyed a relatively high level of trust among Hong Kong people.
Three months after the delivery of Zhu’s report, his successor Wen Jiabao paid a visit to Hong Kong. After overseeing the signing of the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement in June 2003, Wen refrained from comparing the cross-border trade pact to a “gift” from the central government, as some have described. Instead, he said the genuine “big gift” was the “unswerving determination of the new leadership to implement ‘one country, two systems’, ‘the people of Hong Kong governing Hong Kong’ and the city’s ‘high degree of autonomy'”.
Gary Cheung is the Post’s political editor
By Ng Kang-chung and Emily Tsang
South China Sea
The trade-based functional constituencies are likely to survive the implementation of universal suffrage, according to a top adviser to a Beijing think tank on Hong Kong affairs.
Professor Lau Siu-kai said he believes Beijing would aim for a system that could combine elements of universal suffrage with the Legislative Council’s trade-based seats.
Speaking after a radio interview yesterday, Lau, vice-chairman of the semi-official Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, said: “From the viewpoint of the central authorities, Hong Kong’s governance in the past few years could have become much more difficult if it had not been for the support of legislators from functional constituencies.
“Beijing’s view is that Hong Kong’s political development must serve the purpose of the ‘one country, two systems’ policy, which is … to protect investors’ interest and the capitalist system and avoid welfarism and populism.”
He believed Beijing would not allow the functional constituencies to be scrapped in the near future. “The most probable result is to find a way that can incorporate universal suffrage elements into functional constituency [elections],” he said.
Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee (left), Audrey Eu Yuet-mee (right) and other members of Civic Party protest to calling for the abolition of functional constituencies outside Legco in March, 2011. Photo: David Wong
The National People’s Congress Standing Committee has ruled that functional constituencies should make up half the seats in Legco, the chief executive can be elected by one man, one vote in 2017 and all lawmakers may also be subsequently also elected by universal suffrage.
Functional constituencies are mainly profession- or trade-based. Many have a narrow electoral base. In 2012, Steven Ho Chun-yin won the agriculture and fisheries seat with just 105 votes.
Emily Lau Wai-hing of the opposition Democratic Party insisted functional constituencies had to be abolished and ridiculed the suggestion the seats could be combined with elements of universal suffrage. She said: “Functional constituency elections with the characteristics of universal suffrage. Is it a joke?”
Meanwhile, a poll of over 1,200 medical students from Chinese University and the University of Hong Kong found 86 per cent said Legco should vote against the electoral reforms for the 2017 chief executive election if they were based on Beijing’s framework.
University of Hong Kong
Some 92 per cent said electing the chief executive according to Beijing’s wishes would not protect the rule of law and human rights in Hong Kong.
Former British PM told top city officials London would confront Beijing over any post-handover breaches of Joint Declaration, documents show
By Gary Cheung in London email@example.com
South China Morning Post
Margaret Thatcher assured Hong Kong’s political elite during her visit to the city in December 1984 that Britain would not hesitate to raise any breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration with Beijing after 1997.
The pledge was stated in the notes prepared by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) for the then prime minister’s informal conversations with members of the Executive Council and the Legislative Council on December 20, 1984.
Britain’s assurance came to light in files recently declassified from the National Archives in London.
The closed-door meeting was held a day after the joint declaration was signed by her and then Chinese premier Zhao Ziyang in Beijing.
Thatcher was reminded in the “points to make” drafted by the FCO to tell Exco and Legco members that there was good reason for thinking Beijing would observe the agreement.
“Observance is in China’s interests for economic reasons and for cause of reunification,” the notes said.
“Britain has the right to raise any breaches with China after 1997. We would not hesitate to do so.”
According to a declassified record of a meeting between Zhao and Thatcher on December 19, 1984, Zhao said it was a tradition of the Chinese nation to act in good faith.
“Zhao said China always lived up to her international commitments. The agreement reached on Hong Kong was such a good agreement that no one wanted to alter or change it,” the record said.
The high degree of autonomy Beijing pledged in the pact has been a bone of contention in Hong Kong in the wake of the release of the State Council’s white paper in June, which stated that Beijing had “comprehensive jurisdiction” over Hong Kong.
The “Iron Lady” was also advised to send a similar message at her press conference in Hong Kong on December 21, 1984.
In the briefing notes for the press conference, the FCO suggested the “line to take” on the hypothetical question: “What will Britain do if [the] Chinese do not implement [the] agreement?” Thatcher was advised to reply that a “breach of a legally binding international agreement would be a most serious matter, in our eyes and no doubt in those of [the] international community as a whole”.
“We would of course make the strongest possible representations to the Chinese government in order to seek a remedy.”
But Thatcher gave a milder answer at the press conference, saying: “If by any chance any question rose under the agreement, naturally a signatory to it would raise the matter with the Chinese government.”
Thatcher’s visit to China in 1982 launched the Sino-British negotiations on Hong Kong’s future. She died in April last year at the age of 87.
Professor Lau Siu-kai, vice-chairman of mainland think tank the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, said Beijing’s reputation was at stake if it failed to comply with the joint declaration. “Britain believes it has a moral duty to Hong Kong, but it doesn’t mean it has the oversight of the situation of Hong Kong after 1997,” Lau said.
Rifts between Britain and China over Hong Kong affairs emerged shortly after the signing of the joint declaration.
In July, British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg told former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang and Democratic Party founding chairman Martin Lee Chu-ming that Britain would “mobilise the international community and pursue every legal and other avenue available” if China breached the declaration.
On December 1, Prime Minister David Cameron stepped into a row over Beijing’s refusal to let a group of British lawmakers visit Hong Kong, saying that the decision was “counterproductive”.
The row centres on Beijing’s ban on a visit originally planned for this month by the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, which is conducting an inquiry into the implementation of the joint declaration.
Hong Kong’s chief executive snubs UK committee probe into Joint Declaration (Includes links to articles on Hong Kong from 2 prior weeks)