Executive Council member Laura Cha is comparing the long fight for democracy to the struggle of black slaves who took a hundred years before they won the right to vote.
Cha, who also chairs the Financial Services Development Council, used the analogy to try to persuade Hong Kong people to accept a proposed election framework for the 2017 chief executive election and gradually improve on it, Ming Pao Daily reported Thursday.
She made the remarks at a Trade Development Council event in Paris on Wednesday.
Cha defended the use of tear gas on pro-democracy protesters during the early hours of the campaign, saying even the French people would not understand what the ensuing furor was about.
Tear gas is the simplest and most peaceful deterrent against protesters and is commonly used in many countries, she said.
Cha said her French friends were amazed by the fact that people took to the streets just because the police had fired tear gas.
She said the protesters are not the kind of “top quality” people they are made out to be, adding the Hong Kong public “deserves more credit” for putting up with the protests.
Explaining her black slave example, Cha said she is not suggesting that Hong Kong wait a hundred years for true democracy. “If it does not come in 2017 what about in 2022?”
She said the important thing is to take the first step rather than sit still.
Cha cited the US election system in which candidates are chosen in primaries and the US president by an electoral college, not by direct election.
“Friends of mine who belong to the US Democratic Party said they would vote for Hillary Clinton for president but Barack Obama won the nomination,” she said.
She said that is just the way the US system works, which is similar to those in other western democracies including Britain.
Civic Party lawmaker Kenneth Chan said Cha insulted Hong Kong people by comparing them with black slaves.
He said Hong Kong could have had genuine universal suffrage in the chief executive and legislative elections in 2007 and 2008, respectively, if not for some vested interests including Cha who kept asking to postpone it.
Dixon Sing, an associate professor in the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, said Cha’s analogy is wrong because Hong Kong people enjoy economic freedom unlike the black slaves.
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