25 February 2020
In the movie "Inception", a man is stuck in a dream for decades and waits for something that won't appear. It's comparable to Hong Kong people's hope for genuine universal suffrage. Photo: YouTube
In the movie "Inception", a man is stuck in a dream for decades and waits for something that won't appear. It's comparable to Hong Kong people's hope for genuine universal suffrage. Photo: YouTube

Should we wait another decade for universal suffrage?

First, 10 years, then another 10 years, then another 10 years. How long will we have to wait to finally be able to elect the leaders of our own choice?

An unnamed source told RTHK that Hong Kong people may need to wait until 2027 before they can enjoy universal suffrage if Beijing’s proposal for the 2017 chief executive election is voted down in the Legislative Election next year.

The remarks undoubtedly put pressure on the pan-democratic lawmakers, who have threatened to reject Beijing’s proposal, as leaked to media this week, for candidates to secure endorsements from at least half of the nominating committee to be able to run in the 2017 race. The source urged the pan-democrats to follow “mainstream” public opinion, as reflected by the more than one million signatures supporting the nominating committee system and “love country, love Hong Kong” principle, otherwise they could be condemned by history.

No one was surprised by the news that Beijing will lay out “an extremely conservative framework” for universal suffrage to ensure that those who oppose the central government will have no chance to become chief executive. In screening out pan-democrats from the 2017 election, Beijing wants the results to be predictable so as to protect the best interest of China in the special administrative region.

Such a mindset indicates that China has no intention of granting a truly democratic electoral framework for Hong Kong people right from the start.

It’s a bit naive for pan-democrats to think that Beijing would agree to their “bottomline” demand for public nomination of the candidates, and the central authorities’ tough stance could force the pan-democrats to make more aggressive moves such as joining the Occupy Central civil disobedience movement, along with a rejection of the 2017 political reform proposal in the Legislative Council next year.

President Xi Jinping, who assumed China’s top leadership in 2012, is taking the issue of universal suffrage in a macro perspective. Political observers believe that Xi’s chief interest is to prevent Hong Kong from falling into the hands of anti-Beijing leaders. And this is why China’s top leaders need to tighten the screening process for the candidates, while granting universal suffrage to fulfill Beijing’s pledge in the Basic Law.

However, pan-democrats, and a large part of the Hong Kong populace, only want to maintain the city’s high degree of autonomy, and to ensure that, they must be allowed to choose a leader who truly represents their interests, rather than the Beijing’s interests in Hong Kong. And for them that could only happen under a truly democratic electoral regime.

China’s top leadership should not forget that the Communist Party did promote true democracy before the birth of People’s Republic of China in 1949. The Communist Party did encourage local governments to hold universal suffrage in choosing their leaders as part of efforts to build an independent and democratic nation. Mao Zedong, the founding father of modern China, once said a truly democratic electoral framework will allow China to stand proud and tall in the family of nations.

So what’s the choice for Hong Kong people: to accept a not so perfect electoral reform package for 2017, or stand firm and fight for a genuine, truly democratic election?

Related story:

How Beijing plans to eliminate democrats in 2017 election

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EJ Insight writer