23 August 2019
Pan-democratic lawmakers have vowed, twice, that they will vote down the 2017 election bill. Photo: VOA
Pan-democratic lawmakers have vowed, twice, that they will vote down the 2017 election bill. Photo: VOA

Rejecting 2017 election offer is best way to oust CY Leung

The biggest challenge we now face is how to preserve the many virtues of our own system and lifestyle, and how to shield them against the sweeping impact of integration and assimilation by the mainland way of doing things.

If we can accomplish that, then the next task is how to achieve more, like a more civil and democratic society. We play defense to guard our values and we take the offensive to embark on new endeavors.

To these ends, under no circumstances should we accept Beijing’s 2017 election proposal.

If the Legislative Council rubber-stamps Beijing’s offer, then a sham “universal suffrage” will become a reality. In concert with the “one person, one vote” propaganda, the offer is meant to gloss over Beijing’s pre-screening, and two to three Beijing-friendly candidates who are more tactful and slick than the incumbent Leung Chun-ying will stand for the top job.

Once any one of them wins, the next chief executive can then do whatever he is told by his mainland masters — from relegating the “one country, two systems” principle, taming the pan-democrats and enacting Article 23 of the Basic Law to smothering press freedom and remolding educational institutions – as he is “universally elected” and thus enjoys the “people’s mandate”.

If that happens, the chief executive will have access to unlimited powers, and will be able to set aside all forms of checks and balances.

Don’t be fooled by the illusion that Beijing will offer something better if Hong Kong people agree to a fake universal suffrage first.

Beijing would believe it has honored all the pledges it has made in the Basic Law.

If all pan-democratic lawmakers cast their votes against the bill as they have pledged, the veto will be a morale booster and the government is unlikely to try again in the near future.

And many of the young Occupy participants, who will be in their voting age in the next few years, will lend substantial reinforcement to the camp.

Now if the “accept it first” offer fails, it is very unlikely for Beijing to reward Leung with a second term.

A sensible prediction is that the Legco veto will mean the end of Leung’s political life, since he has failed in the cardinal mission assigned by Beijing and stepping down to bear the blame is his only option. The setback will also provide his opponents with an ideal chance to drag him down.

By the same token, if the bill gets passed, it’s hard to imagine that a euphoric Beijing will turn treacherous and won’t let Leung run for a second term since he has never flinched and ultimately had the tough job done.

Otherwise, who else in the future will work their fingers to the bone for Beijing? Voting down the election bill is therefore the best policy for pan-democrats.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on March 30.

Translation by Frank Chen

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Former full-time member of the Hong Kong Government’s Central Policy Unit, former editor-in-chief of the Hong Kong Economic Journal

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