Posts Tagged ‘“people power”’

Xi’s Next Step: Demand More Fervor From China’s Communist Party

October 26, 2017
Now that China’s president has emerged as the country’s most powerful leader in decades, he needs an energized party to fulfill his goals. So far, members have seen a crackdown on unpaid dues, mandatory study sessions and purge of those seen as corrupt or inept.

By Chun Han Wong
The Wall Street Journal
Oct. 26, 2017 7:38 a.m. ET

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The opening of China’s Communist Party congress in Beijing last week.Photo: Liu Weibing/Xinhua/Zuma Press

BEIJING—China’s Communist Party has enforced its political monopoly so completely for decades that members overwhelmingly staff government agencies from Beijing to village offices, manage state-owned companies and supervise civic and religious groups, chambers of commerce and unions.

Yet as China’s economy flourished, party membership came to be seen less as a political commitment and more as a way to secure jobs and profit from power. Party loyalty gradually slipped so much among rank-and-file members that many stopped bothering to pay their required membership dues.

That suddenly changed when Beijing launched a nationwide campaign last year. In the northeastern city of Tianjin, officials collected 277 million yuan ($41.7 million) in fees owed by more than 120,000 Communist Party members at state-owned companies, state media said. Among those deemed in arrears were officials in the party’s powerful personnel department, which oversaw the campaign, according to people familiar with the matter.

Doing so, Mr. Xi says, will secure his nation’s transformation into a rich superpower in the coming decades, and deliver his “China Dream” of national rejuvenation.

Now that the party has given Xi Jinping five more years as leader and power on par with that of Chairman Mao Zedong, he will return to one of his top priorities in the past five years: restoring the party as a force in people’s lives and recapturing its revolutionary sense of mission. Doing so will secure his “China Dream” of national rejuvenation, he believes.

Under Mr. Xi’s orders, mandatory political-study sessions emphasizing his speeches and policies were revived for all party members. So was the Mao-era practice of members criticizing others and themselves. A Communist Party directive on adjusting membership dues, barely enforced for most of a decade, was abruptly applied retroactively across the country last year.

Since becoming the party’s general secretary in late 2012, Mr. Xi has overseen efforts to root out the corrupt, inept and disloyal among the 89 million bureaucrats, engineers, professors, office workers, laborers and other Communist Party members. More than 1.5 million members have been punished, some with heavy jail terms, for alleged wrongdoing that includes graft, indolence and dissent.

“We must continue to rid ourselves of any virus that erodes the party’s fabric,” Mr. Xi, 64 years old, said after unveiling a new top leadership lineup on Wednesday. Freshly invested with unrivaled authority, he pressured party members to get in lockstep with his program.

As Communist Party members, the son of a revolutionary leader said, they must “forever be servants of the people, the vanguard of the times and the backbone of our nation.”

China’s Leaders: Who’s With Xi

Some party members, especially those who viewed the organization largely as a path to career success, have grumbled about Mr. Xi’s campaign to instill discipline and whip up nationalistic fervor.

At a Beijing division of a major, state-owned telecommunications company, scores of employees were ordered to catch up on years of Communist Party dues, according to a sales supervisor. “We all found it unbelievable,” she said.


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She and her husband, a party member working at a different company, paid a total of more than 50,000 yuan ($7,530). “We were scared that not paying dues or quitting the party would affect our spouses and jeopardize our children’s futures,” said the supervisor, whose teenage son is studying in Britain.

Such dissatisfaction could exacerbate foot-dragging and obstruction, making it harder for Mr. Xi to implement his agenda. Officials, particularly in local governments, already have frustrated Beijing’s plans to curtail debt and close unneeded factories.

“For most rank-and-file members, the party does not require much of them,” said Bruce Dickson, a George Washington University professor who studies Chinese politics. “If it is going to start requiring them to actually pay dues, attend meetings and so on, some may decide it is not worth keeping their membership.”

A way to get aheadA 2011 study in the state-backed journal Youth Research found that about 40% of 1,559 Chinese undergraduates who were surveyed agreed that “university students join the Communist Party primarily to get good jobs.” Just 27% disagreed with the statement.

Joanne Song McLaughlin, an assistant economics professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo, estimated last year that Communist Party members earn 7% to 29% more than nonmembers.

Xi Jinping, center, approaches a lectern in Beijing on Wednesday as the other six members of the Communist Party’s Politburo Standing Committee applaud.Photo: QILAI SHEN/BLOOMBERG NEWS

“Imagine that Xi is the new CEO of a company where employees don’t show up for work, don’t participate in work activities, and can’t even articulate what the company’s mission statement is,” said Jude Blanchette, a Beijing-based researcher. “That’s roughly what Xi faced in late 2012.”

Since taking power, Mr. Xi, Premier Li Keqiang and other Chinese leaders have repeatedly inveighed against do-nothing government and company officials. State media have blamed bureaucratic inertia and sloth for exacerbating local government debts, overbuilding and environmental degradation.

In a 2014 speech at a party conference, the Chinese president warned that the Communist Party had to become unimpeachable from top to bottom—or risk irrelevance. Membership, he said, requires discipline, trustworthiness and persevering in step with the country’s leadership.

Otherwise, “the party is ruined, the nation is ruined,” Mr. Xi said in the speech. “If our party weakens, breaks up, or collapses, what meaning will our political achievements have?”

Xi Jinping on a television screen in Shanghai on Wednesday. As China’s economy flourished, party membership came to be seen as a path to jobs and power. Photo: Aly Song/Reuters

Ye Qinglin, who grew up in rural China, joined the party while studying journalism more than two decades ago, inspired by his parents, who were party members.

The 43-year-old television anchor said his faith in the party wavered while working at state-owned Fujian Media Group in southern China, because he saw that other party members paid lip service at best to party ideals.

Lavish dinnerMr. Ye remembers being appalled by a lavish dinner hosted at a Beijing restaurant in 2006 by his ultimate boss, Fujian Media Group Chairman Shu Zhan. Mr. Shu ordered three bottles of Rémy Martin Louis XIII cognac, which cost more than 100,000 yuan ($15,060), Mr. Ye recalled.

Nearly a decade later, Mr. Shu was toppled by Mr. Xi’s corruption crackdown. Mr. Shu was convicted of taking bribes last year after pleading guilty in court, and he was sentenced to 11 years in prison. He couldn’t be reached for comment.

“We felt that the party ranks were being purified,” said Mr. Ye. “Xi Jinping has restored confidence in the Chinese system. I see hope for my party.”

Ye Qinglin, a Chinese television anchor and Communist Party member, says he sees ‘hope for our party.’Photo: Chun Han Wong/The Wall Street Journal

Many government agencies and state-owned businesses require party members to attend study sessions at least once a month. Some officials organize weekly discussions, ask members to spend an hour a day on political self-study or arrange field trips to revolutionary landmarks. Destinations include the northern village of Liangjiahe, where Mr. Xi performed manual labor from 1969 to 1975 during the Cultural Revolution.

Rank-and-file Communist Party members must take notes in standard-issue journals and submit them for review, as well as spend spare time studying for regular political discussions and quizzes. Their knowledge of the party’s constitution and regulations, as well as Mr. Xi’s policies, are regularly tested.

“Participants have to come prepared,” said Zhan Wenchao, a township-level party worker in central Henan province who organizes such study sessions. Poor performers face counseling and probation, he added.

One Chinese judge said the new requirements added to his already onerous workload and have worsened morale in the overloaded judiciary.

“Even when things get busy, our supervisors will still chair study meetings, asking us if we’ve paid attention to the party plenums, or watched the evening news bulletins,” said the judge. “This is an unreasonable use of our time.”

The judge, who presided over criminal cases in a major city, left the judiciary in 2016 to join the private sector. He still is a party member.

The campaign to collect party membership fees has sparked widespread complaints. Social media and online forums crackled with party members fuming about the payments and debating whether to quit. A poem by an employee at the China Academy of Space Technology in Beijing lamented making a lump-sum payment worth “five years of transport expenses or the cost of a half-year’s supply of baby formula.”

Xi Jinping is the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong. What’s behind his rise, and how long will he remain in power? Photo: Reuters

Party-run media outlets criticized such reactions as signs of wavering loyalty. Privately, though, some Communist Party officials relented, exempting some retired members from paying backdated dues, according to people familiar with the matter.

Mr. Xi has sacrificed some growth in the party’s ranks in return for more loyalty from those who do join. Tighter admission procedures slowed membership expansion to 0.8% last year from roughly 3% a year earlier in this decade, party data showed.

Still, the Communist Party’s leadership doesn’t want to see a drastic decline in membership, which party researchers say would be seen as a vote of no confidence, especially if high-profile members step down.

Party regulations state that members are free to leave and are automatically deemed to have withdrawn if they fail to attend party activities, pay dues or fulfill their work responsibilities for six months. In reality, quitting isn’t easy.

“There are members who don’t dare to quit, aren’t allowed by the party to quit and are unable to quit in practice, because there’s an overly politicized interpretation of what it means to quit the party,” Gong Xianqing, dean of the Zhongnan University of Economics and Law’s School of Marxism, wrote last year in an influential, party-run journal.

A nationwide audit by the party’s personnel department last year tried tracking down estranged members to see who could be brought back and who should be culled from the official party ranks, according to party documents.

‘Unqualified’ membersIn the northern city of Handan, party authorities tracked down more than 12,400 inactive members last year, put nearly 1,800 “unqualified” members on probation and struck 237 names from party rosters, state media said.

Several prominent and outspoken academics said they have been rebuffed in their attempts to leave the Communist Party.

Zhang Ming was stripped of his post as dean of political sciences a decade ago at Beijing’s prestigious Renmin University after criticizing China’s lack of academic freedoms. Since then, he has tried to quit the party by not paying dues. He said he was told by university officials late last year that his party membership wouldn’t be revoked.

“They keep dragging their feet on my request to quit,” said Mr. Zhang, who said he wants to leave the party for personal reasons. “I find it frustrating.”


Philippine President Duterte threatens to jail martial law critics

July 2, 2017
 / 02:34 PM July 02, 2017
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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in Manila, Philippines Tuesday, June 27, 2017. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to jail critics of his use of martial law in the violence-wracked south, days before the Supreme Court is set to rule on its legality this week.

Duterte declared military rule across the region of Mindanao, home to about 20 million people, in late May to quell what he said was a fast-growing threat from the Islamic State (IS) group there.

The Philippine leader has insisted he would ignore the findings of the court, which has constitutional oversight, vowing only to listen to recommendations from the armed forces.

“It’s not dependent on the whim of the Supreme Court. Should I believe them? When I see the situation is still chaotic and you ask me to lift it? I will arrest you and put you behind bars,” Duterte said in a speech before local officials on Saturday.

“We can talk of anything else and make compromises maybe but not when the interest of my country is at stake.”

Government forces are continuing to battle militants occupying the city of Marawi, with aerial bombardment and ferocious street-to-street combat that has left some 400 people dead and forced nearly 400,000 people in the wider area to flee their homes.

Duterte has faced a backlash from opposition lawmakers, who last month asked the Supreme Court to reject the declaration of martial law, which they have slammed as unconstitutional.

The 1987 constitution imposes limits on martial law to prevent a repeat of the abuses under dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who was deposed by a famous “People Power” revolution the previous year.

The charter allows the Supreme Court to review the factual basis for proclaiming martial law, which is limited to an initial period of 60 days. If a president decides to extend martial law, congress can review and revoke it.

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Behold the ‘Resistance’: a groundswell of anti-Trump fervor

March 15, 2017


© AFP / by Leila MACOR | With 1,500 attendees, ACLU launched People Power, a grassroots mobilization platform designed to help organize actions against US President Donald Trump
MIAMI (AFP) – Until Donald Trump became president, Kelsey Thomas spent her time studying, hanging out with friends and lounging on the beaches of Florida. But not anymore.Now she has become fiercely political, joining the new activist movement in America that has come to be called the “Resistance.”

For Thomas, a 29-year-old university student, the turning point was the huge wave of women-led protests that filled Washington and other cities on January 21, the day after Trump’s inauguration.

She traveled from Fort Lauderdale, where she lives, to the US capital to join the throngs protesting against the Republican billionaire president.

“That was really inspiring and motivating. I just started worrying after the elections and really I got more involved after he took office and after the Women’s March in Washington,” Thomas told AFP.

Thomas now works with a local women’s group that took part in that rally and is opposed to the Trump-backed Republican plan to replace the health care reforms known as Obamacare.

Many services, such as those for people with mental illness or substance abuse problems, would be taken away, she said.

“All of this motivated me to fight for all the injustices that I see and continue to see every single day,” said Thomas.

– ‘Fertile for activism’ –

Like Thomas, many in the “Resistance” movement feel their core values are being threatened by the Trump administration. And they are ready to fight back.

Jose Parra, a political analyst at a consultancy called Prospero Latino, said “the public in general is beginning to become politically educated when they feel that there is a threat to their way of life and that is what is happening with the Trump administration’s proposals.”

What is at stake for these new political warriors are the rights of women, immigrants and Muslims, equal treatment of gays and lesbians and progress in public health and environmental protection.

“There is a controversy for every taste,” said Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, America’s largest human rights advocacy group and a pillar of the new anti-Trump drive. “There are a lot of issues under threat.”

Romero, who was visiting Miami, said his organization had 400,000 members before the presidential election and now has 1.2 million.

“We are living in times that are very fertile for activism because people feel threatened,” he told AFP.

“But at the same time there is nothing romantic about this. People know that the federal government in the hands of Trump wields vast power.”

To harness all this grassroots energy, the ACLU created a platform called with the slogan “Join the Resistance.” With this, the organization hopes to recruit more activists and lay the groundwork for political action against Trump.

The movement was launched last Saturday in Miami at an amphitheater filled with 1,500 future activists. The event was broadcast live on Facebook.

People of all ages who, like Thomas, had their political awakening four months ago, listened to lectures on how to convene rallies, what kind of activities are legal, the best places to gather and what rights police and immigration officers have in dealing with protesters.

– Ideological zeal –

This surge of political awareness that prompted the ACLU to create is seen all over.

When the mayor of Miami-Dade County, Carlos Gimenez, announced that the city would no longer be a sanctuary city — one that refuses to cooperate with federal immigration authorities seeking to deport people — a rally took place the very next day outside his office.

Since then there have been many more protests against him.

Late night talk and comedy shows are now rich in political satire that ridicules or lampoons Trump, and their ratings have risen sharply.

Activists are even recruiting on the dating web site Tinder, where one can now find people eager to do something as un-sexy as go to a town hall meeting.

And NGOs are recruiting on new sites like MeetUp and that old-fashioned place called Facebook.

For instance, on Sundays the civil rights group MoveOn holds nationwide call-ins, known as “Ready to Resist,” in which it trains people in the finer arts of grassroots resistance.

Wilfredo Ruiz, spokesman for the Florida chapter of CAIR — America’s largest Muslim rights advocacy organization — told AFP that Trump’s travel ban targeting people from an initial seven and now six mainly Muslim countries has caused people to rally to his group’s defense.

This is creating a kind of unified, organic resistance nationwide. “We are teaming up with other civil rights organizations at other, unprecedented levels,” said Ruiz.

Now, collaboration among NGOs, universities, churches, mosques and synagogues is not just about marching or filing lawsuits together. Rather, they are sharing strategies, resources and logistics, he said.

This is happening for instance in California, where religious leaders have created a clandestine network of homes where people are willing to shelter unauthorized immigrants.

Some people — including Romero, Parra and Ruiz — are comparing this groundswell of ideological zeal to the climate that gave rise to the civil rights movement of the 1960s to end racism and discrimination against blacks.

by Leila MACOR

Philippine citizens protest Duterte’s drug war on anniversary of dictatorship overthrow under Marcos regime

February 25, 2017

A rally has been held in Manila outside the cell of a senator who has been charged with drug trafficking offenses. Protesters warned of a return to conditions of the military dictatorship overthrown 31 years ago.

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Thousands of people protested on Saturday against Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s deadly war on drugs after the arrest of his most high-profile critic.
Duterte’s political opponents and left-wing activists transformed a traditional celebration of a “People Power” uprising against dictatorship three decades ago in Manila into a protest march condemning his war on drugs.

The group warned that Duterte’s authoritarian rule could return the country to a dictatorship, demanding an end to the extrajudicial killings that have claimed more than 7,700 lives in the past seven months.

The military-backed dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos was toppled in a bloodless “People Power” revolution 31 years ago to the day.
“We are taking the matter seriously. We are warning our people about the threat of rising fascism,” Bonifacio Ilagan, who led one of the protests, told news agency AFP.
Protesters shout slogans during a rally at the Heroes Cemetery to protest the hero’s burial of the late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos (picture alliance/AP Photo/B.Marquez)
Protesters warned of a return to conditions under the dictator Ferdinand Marcos
Senator imprisoned
The protesters gathered outside the national police headquarters, where opposition figure Senator Leila de Lima was detained two days ago on charges that she took bribes from imprisoned drug traffickers.
“There is a president who is threatening to reimpose martial law and openly support the killings of thousands of people,” de Lima said in a message from her detention cell a day after she was arrested.
“The grim truth: In the last seven months under Duterte, there were more deaths compared to the 14 years of martial law under the Marcos regime.”
The former human rights commissioner said her arrest was an effort to silence her and an act of revenge for her decade-long efforts to expose Duterte as the leader of death squads during his time as mayor of the southern city of Davao.
“President Duterte is effectively expanding his drug war from the urban poor to the legislative branch of government,” Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.
Protester Ilagan, a playwright who suffered horrific torture over two years in a police prison under Marcos’ martial rule in the 1970s, cited to AFP the “culture of impunity” engendered by Duterte’s anti-drug crackdown. More rallies in support of de Lima were organized for later in the evening.
aw/tj (AFP, Reuters)



Philippines: Backsliding tendencies toward strongman rule (Editorial)

February 23, 2017


To reclaim lost ground

/ 12:30 AM February 23, 2017

After allowing the surreptitious burial of Ferdinand Marcos’ remains in the Libingan ng mga Bayani, publicly acknowledging the campaign contribution of the dictator’s eldest child, and introducing during his China visit the dictator’s son and namesake as possibly the next vice president of the land, President Duterte appears to have green-lighted the downplaying of the anniversary celebration of the Edsa revolt.

Proclamation No. 1224 designates Feb. 22-25 of every year as Edsa People Power Commemoration Week. Yet a Malacañang official says a simple ceremony will mark this year’s 31st anniversary, so people can “move on and not get stuck in the past.” But who’s getting stuck in the past?

Recent official moves recall the inglorious past when the strongman thought nothing of bending the law to suit his agenda or defanging Congress to silence contrary views. The threat by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez to expel from their exalted posts in the House those who would not toe the line on the matter of the revival of the death penalty definitely echoed Marcos’ dictatorial ways. That hero’s burial served to exonerate the strongman as well as his family, and to give the lie to the very reasons behind the display of people power on Edsa that toppled the dictatorship and sent the former first family packing. And the seeming laying of the groundwork to get the alleged pork barrel scam queen off the hook presages a state of affairs when the high and mighty got away with murder, as it was during the martial law era.

These backsliding tendencies toward strongman rule are the very arguments why Edsa should be marked properly, even ardently. History might be written by the victors, but it is now being revised and altered drastically by politicians and social media trolls who peddle fake news and alternative facts to advance their interests.

“Moving on and forgetting may leave us in danger of making the same mistakes all over again,” warned Vice President Leni Robredo, who underscored the importance of reverence for the past to “ensure quality of direction in our future.”

Indeed, as the group that names itself The Power of We said in its call for a proper celebration of Edsa at the People Power Monument on Feb. 25, this is one huge history class, especially for millennials too young to remember the events that led to the inspiring exercise of people power in 1986.

It bears recalling that this bloodless revolt gained for the Philippines the world’s respect and admiration, for showing that peaceful change was possible. It inspired similar people-fueled solidarity in shackled nations and literally brought down walls, such as the Berlin Wall in 1989.

Celebrating Edsa acknowledges the sacrifice of countless men and women who laid down their lives in resisting the Marcos dictatorship. While it is true that the ensuing years amply demonstrated that the mere changing of the guard was not sufficient to transform Philippine politics, Edsa remains a defining moment when Filipinos showed a capability to transcend differences to get together for decisive, collective action.

The highest outcome of this “near-miraculous four-day phenomenon … was the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to infuse our people with a new purpose,” according to Edsa player and former president Fidel V. Ramos. “The Spirit of Edsa compels our unswerving opposition to injustice, greed, corruption and complacency.”

With ominous dark clouds looming anew, we must mark Edsa with a purpose and take rare comfort in its great achievement: the return of democracy. At the same time, we must mark it with renewed resolve because this democratic space is again at risk from dark forces.

Downplaying Edsa and limiting its commemoration within the confines of a military camp means isolating it from the source of its power—ordinary Filipinos, the sort who kept vigil on the great highway to deliver a message that still resounds today: Enough!

It’s time to reclaim lost ground, to prevent the return of forces exorcised 31 years ago and on the verge of resurgence.

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Philippines: Senator De Lima calls for ‘psychotic serial killer mass murderer’ President Duterte to be impeached

February 21, 2017

The Liberal Party senator presented the motion in a bid to dismiss her three charges of drug trading.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte was described as a “psychopathic, serial killer, mass murderer” by one of his most vocal critics, Senator Leila de Lima, who is fighting against three charges of drug trading.

In a press conference presenting her motion to dismiss the charges against her filed on 21 February, Liberal Party Senator De Lima asked government ministers, officials and lawyers to hold Duterte accountable for his actions.

She accused Duterte of “crimes against humanity”, referring to the alleged killings by the so-called “Davao Death Squad” which was set up when Duterte was mayor of the city, and the way he handled the now-suspended “war on drugs” that left thousands of people dead. She said these can represent ground for impeachment are not covered by presidential immunity.

“You can save this country from the criminal president by declaring that due to his way of thinking, he is incapable of serving as president,” she said.

Her statement follows the confession of a retired police officer who admitted on 20 February to having been a member of the Davao Death Squad. Arturo Lascanas told a news conference at the Senate in Manila he and other policemen had accepted money from the then-mayor as payment for carrying out assassinations.

De Lima called Duterte a “number-one criminal”, likening him to the villain The Joker from the superhero Batman films. “Just like in the movies, President Duterte is Joker. A psychotic murderer, the leader of all the villains”.

She turned to her countrymen to rally behind her. “Now is the time for us to band together and stand against a criminal dictator and tyrannical regime. Let us fight for our rights, justice, and democracy,” she said.

Leila de Lima
Former Justice Secretary Leila De Lima called Duterte a ‘number one criminal’ and likening him The Joker in the Batman filmsRomeo Ranoco/Reuters

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella on Tuesday dismissed De Lima’s statements as “colourful language,” CNN Philippines reported.

De Lima is accused of tolerating and gaining from the outlawed narcotics trade at the New Bilibid Prison by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), former officials of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the NBI itself during her time as Justice Minister. She denies the charges as “vindictive politics”.



Philippines’ President Duterte is a ‘sociopathic serial killer’ who should be forced out of office, senator says

February 21, 2017

Leila de Lima invoked a famous ‘People Power’ revolution that toppled dictator Ferdinand Marcos three decades ago, in her strongest comments yet against Duterte and his drug war

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 February, 2017, 4:36pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 February, 2017, 4:36pm

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is a “serial killer” who should be forced out of office, one of his chief critics said on Tuesday, as she faced arrest on drug charges she insisted were meant to silence her.

There is no more doubt that our president is a murderer and sociopathic serial killer

Senator Leila de Lima invoked a famous “People Power” revolution that toppled dictator Ferdinand Marcos three decades ago, in her strongest comments yet against Duterte and his drug war that has claimed thousands of lives.

“There is no more doubt that our president is a murderer and sociopathic serial killer,” De Lima told reporters, as she called on cabinet to declare him unfit to lead, and asked ordinary Filipinos to voice their opposition to his rule.

De Lima said the constitution allowed for a majority in his cabinet to force him to step down by ruling that he was mentally incapacitated, and urged it to do so. If the cabinet members did not, De Lima referred to the mass uprising that ended the “iron fist” of Marcos’s dictatorship in 1986.

“Now the time has come again for us to be brave and stand up to another criminal dictator and his evil regime,” De Lima said.

The government last week charged De Lima, a former national human rights commissioner, with orchestrating a drug trafficking ring when she was justice secretary in the previous administration.

De Lima, 57, her supporters and rights groups have said the charges against her are manufactured to silence her as well as intimidate other people who may want to speak out against him.

She could be detained anytime, although the courts hearing the cases must issue an arrest warrant.

When asked about De Lima’s comments, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella simply described them as “colourful language” and pointed out that Duterte would allow public demonstrations against him.

 Philippine Senator Leila De Lima gestures during a press conference at the Philippine Senate in Pasay City, south of Manila. Photo: EPA

Duterte, 71, won presidential elections last year after promising during the campaign to eradicate drugs in society by killing tens of thousands of people.

He immediately launched the crackdown after taking office in June and police have reported killing 2,555 drug suspects since then, with about 4,000 other people murdered in unexplained circumstances. Amnesty International has warned police actions in the drug war may amount to crimes against humanity.

The powerful Roman Catholic Church, which helped lead the People Power revolution, has in recent months begun speaking out against the drug war and on Saturday held a rally against the killings, attracting thousands of people.

But Duterte remains popular with many Filipinos, who see him as the strongman needed to fight drugs and corruption, and there is little expectation of a popular uprising against him in the near future.

Senator Leila De Lima called Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte a ‘sociopathic serial killer’, a dictator and has compared him to the ‘Joker’. Photo: EPA

Philippines: Thousands express dismay over ‘revision’ of history — “Ferdinand Marcos was no hero”

November 30, 2016
Protesters converge at the People Power Monument in Quezon City on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016 from afternoon till midnight to oppose the burial of late President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Robertzon Ramirez/Twitter

MANILA, Philippines – Protesters of mostly young people occupied the People Power Monument in Quezon City on Wednesday decrying government’s attempt to revise history in allowing the burial of dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Heroes’ Cemetery.

Despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s insistence that Marcos was not buried as a hero, protesters opposed the move as violating democratic principles and symbols by honoring the long-dead strongman.

Organizers estimated the crowd at the monument alone at 30,000 at around 8:45 p.m., while the Quezon City police reported a conservative count of 3,000. Other unofficial estimates also reached 50,000.

Former Sen. Roberto Tanada, a human rights lawyer, urged Duterte to retract his order to have Marcos laid to rest among heroes.

“Nananawagan ako sa Marcos family. Gusto natin mag-move on o magkaisa pero paano magkakaroon ng closure kung ganyan ang ginagawa ninyo,” Tanada said, speaking before the crowd.

Maria Serena Diokno, who resigned from her post as the chair of the National Historical Commission on Tuesday, said people should not allow Martial Law to return. Marcos’ martial law is considered among the darkest periods of history when thousands who opposed the authoritarian leader were killed or tortured.

Diokno said she has talked to historians and academics to help mend educational gaps on the period.

“They are ready to go around schools and offices to talk about Martial Law,” Diokno said at the rally.

Other demonstrations, meanwhile, were also staged at various sites such as at Plaza Miranda in Manila and Plaza Independencia in Cebu City against Marcos’ burial earlier during the day, a nationwide holiday commemorating the birth of 19th century revolutionary leader Andres Bonifacio. – Reports from Jonathan de Santos and Patricia Lourdes Viray


Hong Kong: Anti-China Anger Expressed During HK Election

September 4, 2016

Hong Kong votes in contentious election — Big turnout shows public interest in Hong Kong’s future

September 4, 2016

Reuters and AFP

© Anthony Wallace, AFP| An elderly couple walk past campaign banners during the Legislative Council election in Hong Kong on September 4, 2016.

Video by FRANCE 24


Latest update : 2016-09-04

Hong Kong voted on Sunday in its first major election since pro-democracy protests in 2014 and one of its most contentious ever, with a push for independence among disaffected younger voters stoking tension with China’s government.

The vote is for a 70-seat legislative council in which Hong Kong’s pro-democracy opposition is hoping to maintain a one-third veto bloc in the face of better mobilised and funded pro-Beijing rivals.

The former British colony was handed back to China in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” agreement that promised to maintain the global financial hub’s freedoms and separate laws for at least 50 years, but gave ultimate control to Beijing.

A growing yearning for independence and animosity towards Beijing in the southern coastal city pose one of the central government’s most pressing domestic political issues.

The stakes for Beijing are particularly high this weekend as G20 leaders gather in the eastern city of Hangzhou for a summit.

Hong Kong’s opposition now controls 27 of the legislature’s 70 seats, giving it the power to block policies and some laws including legislation it sees as eroding freedoms.

Some 3.8 million of Hong Kong’s seven million people are eligible to vote and the result is due early on Monday.

It will give an indication of anti-China sentiment some two years after tens of thousands took to Hong Kong streets to demand full democracy from China’s Communist Party leaders.

A younger generation of voters who joined those protests is openly advocating independence – a push some people warn could jeopardize Hong Kong’s economic and political future.

China’s stability-obsessed leaders have categorically rejected any possibility of independence.

Hong Kong officials are generally supportive of Beijing and keen to preserve “one country, two systems”, though confidence in China’s commitment to the formula has been shaken by recent incidents including the abduction of several Hong Kong booksellers by Chinese agents.

“You may be disappointed by the fact that Hong Kong, the city we love, has not been making more progress,” Carrie Lam, the head of Hong Kong’s civil service, told reporters as she cast her ballot.

“I urge you to vote because indifference will not lead us anywhere.”

Beijing Campaign

Many residents see the 79 days of student-led protests in 2014 as a turning point in the city’s politics even though Beijing gave no ground.

Since then, many have decried what they see as increasing Beijing interference to stifle dissent and civil liberties.

Six pro-democracy election candidates were disqualified for refusing to uphold a clause in Hong Kong’s mini constitution, or Basic Law, stating it is an “inalienable” part of China.

“The rights we should have under the Basic Law don’t belong to us anymore,” said Baggio Leung of Youngspiration, a group pushing for self-determination.

“We are telling Beijing we don’t believe they are going to protect us.”

China has launched a campaign to try to sway the vote through its channels of influence including state companies and grassroots associations..

“It is an open secret that they … pull strings, they make threats, they plant votes,” said Anson Chan, a former senior Hong Kong official.

The city’s Beijing-backed leader, Leung Chun-ying, rejected any suggestion of interference.

“Our election is a democratic one,” Leung told reporters after casting his vote, when an activist threw a sandwich at him.

“Voters have their own free choice and don’t need anyone to tell them how to vote.”



Hong Kong Legco elections watch: voter turnout up compared to 2012 polls

Hong Kong 2016 Legislative Council elections.

By Gary Cheung, Joyce Ng and Emily Tsang
South China Morning Post

Legislator “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung has been out on the hustings for his allies in Hong Kong Island and Kowloon East – but not in his own base New Territories East.

The League of Social Democrats’ veteran said he was not giving up his campaign, although opinion polls show he could be at risk of losing.

“My allies need a boost while I enjoy higher popularity,” Leung said as he flanked People Power’s Tam Tak-chi at Ngau Chi Wan at 2.30pm. My supporters don’t just look at what I do today, but what I’ve been doing.”

Leung criticised Benny Tai’s Thunder Go scheme of strategic voting, saying it would skew election results.

The turnout rate for Hong Kong’s Legislative Council elections on Sunday morning was slightly higher than that of the corresponding period in 2012.

Ivan Choy Chi-keung, a political scientist at the Chinese University, was confident the turnout rate would surge in the evening, claiming many voters would come out to support their candidates.

By 1.30pm, the overall turnout rate for the general election in five geographical constituencies districts was 18.88 per cent ­­– slightly lower than 18.49 per cent in 2012 ­­– with 713,452 voters having cast their ballots.

Candidates posters outside Aberdeen Port Centre on Sunday. Photo: Edward Wong

As of 1.30pm, Hong Kong Island had the highest turnout rate of 19.82 per cent, while the lowest was in New Territories West at 18.33 per cent, according to hourly data.

‘Get out and vote’: Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying casts his ballot as polling stations open across Hong Kong

Overall, the number of voters who had cast their ballots was higher than 641,022 in the first six hours in the 2012 Legco polls. The total turnout rate for that poll was 53.05 per cent.

A total of 3.78 million registered electors are eligible to cast their vote in the Legco elections at 571 ordinary polling stations and 24 dedicated polling stations across Hong Kong.

There are 213 candidates belonging to 84 lists who are competing for 35 seats in the five geographical constituencies.

“The turnout rate so far was actually not bad and the number of voters who had cast ballots was higher than the corresponding period four years ago,” Choy said. “The eventual turnout rate will be relatively high in the light of fierce competition among rival camps and intense mobilisation by candidates.”

Choy, who has been studying the city’s elections for more than two decades, believed a substantial number of voters would choose to go to polling stations after 5pm to support candidates who was in an uncertain and even critical situation.

Voters outside a polling station at Aberdeen on Sunday. Photo: Edward Wong

New People’s Party chairwoman Regina Ip Lau Suk-Yee, seeking re-election in Hong Kong Island, said it was too early to say if the turnout rate would be unfavourable to her.

“It’s too early to say,” she aid. “The weather is good today. Maybe people will vote after playing ball games in the morning.”

Hong Kong’s election watchdog receives almost 200 complaints on voting day

Meeting a group of supporters at Taikoo, Ip said there was no room for complacency even though she was doing well in opinion polls before Sunday.

“We cannot make a judgment yet because there are people saying that I have enough votes, but I urge voters to support me anyway,” she said.

Legco candidate Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, pictured in Taikoo on Sunday, urged voters to turn out and not be complacent. Photo: K. Y. Cheng

Choy said some voters might choose to go to polling stations later because of their plans for strategic voting to ensure the largest number of candidates whose political aspirations they supported were returned.

Occupy Central co-founder Benny Tai Yiu-ting had mapped out a “Thunderbolt plan” for pan-democrats to grab half of the seats in this year’s Legislative Council election.
Making their voices heard: Hong Kong voters flock to polling stations for crucial Legco elections

Tai, an HKU law professor, was confident that non-establishment candidates could win half the 70 seats up for grabs, provided they put aside their sectoral interests and personal agendas to work under a concerted strategy. Tai had urged the pan-democrats to sign up at least 10,000 voters in each of the five geographical constituencies. They would withhold their ballots until the last moment, to vote tactically in response to exit poll results.

Benny Tai Yiu-ting and Angus Chiu Chi-fan, organisers of the “Thunderbolt plan”. Photo: K. Y. Cheng

But eventually only 25,000 voters across five constituencies signed up for the ambitious plan.

Localist Wong Yeung-tat slams Tai’s scheme for strategic voting, which recommends strategic voters to elect another radical Tam Tak-chi in Kowloon East instead of him in order to uphold the pan-democrats’ critical minority in Legco.

This came after Tai’s Thunder Go plan last night announced that more than 70 per cent of those who took part in his internal poll through Telegram said they did not choose Wong.

“This is crazy,” the Civic Passion candidate told the Post while canvassing for votes in San Po Kong. “Other polls show I am competing for he last seat with Paul Tse Wai-chun. If Benny Tai made that appeal he would in turn help Paul Tse win.”

In some polling stations, there are notably more middle-aged voters queuing to take their ballots.

At around noon time, queues of voters lining up at the Sha Tin Town Hall were especially long at three out of six of the queues for middle-aged voters.

Localist Wong Yeung-tat (right) outside a polling station on Hong Kong Island on Sunday. Photo: Tony Cheung

There were more than a dozen waiting at the three registration queues for voters with identity card number heading with alphabet D to E, F and G to K.

Katherine Ma, 50, who works for a tertiary institution in Hong Kong, said she spent 20 minutes in total to make her vote as she queued at the category G to K.

“It took me ten minutes to get my identity card registered and another ten minutes to wait for the ballot paper for my super seat vote. It has not been so long in my past experience,” Ma said.
Choy said it was notable from previous elections that young voters were more inclined to come out to vote in evening of the polling day.