19 February 2019
The people of Hong Kong should persevere with their fight for genuine elections but never ditch the Basic Law, which underpins their freedoms of speech, assembly and association. Photo: HKEJ
The people of Hong Kong should persevere with their fight for genuine elections but never ditch the Basic Law, which underpins their freedoms of speech, assembly and association. Photo: HKEJ

Perseverance is the only way

As a member of the pro-democracy movement myself, I am as much disappointed and frustrated as anyone else who took part in the Occupy movement in 2014 that the 79-day-long campaign didn’t bear any fruit.

And it appears that, after the failure of the movement, the democratization process in our city has ground to an indefinite halt.

However, despite the fact that the Occupy movement failed to achieve any tangible result, I believe most people in Hong Kong still remain hopeful about achieving genuine elections in our city through peaceful means and won’t be discouraged by temporary setbacks.

That is because everybody knows the fight for democracy will be a long, drawn-out battle that cannot be won overnight.

Of course, while there are many, including myself, who are determined to persevere with our efforts to fight for greater democracy within the framework laid down by the Basic Law, there are also some who have become completely disillusioned with “one country, two systems” and no longer see the fight for genuine elections, which they believe will bring us nowhere, as the only viable option available to the people of Hong Kong.

Some of them have begun to preach new political ideas and to create new political organizations.

Their act of forming new political organizations and preaching what appear to some as radical or even outrageous political ideas is perfectly legal under the Basic Law, which fully guarantees our freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and freedom of association, even when the political ideas one preaches are in violation of the Basic Law itself.

This is one of the most fundamental reasons why we must respect and uphold the Basic Law, because it sets the constitutional foundation for all the civil rights to which we are entitled.

Once the Basic Law is gone, so is the legal foundation for our civil rights.

Since the Basic Law provides the ultimate legal guarantee for our freedom, we must never ditch it under any circumstances, nor should we deliberately violate it, despite the fact that the Basic Law itself is not perfect and there is still plenty of room for improvement in it.

Having said that, I sincerely think it is important for people who are trying to preach new or even radical political ideas to the general public to give some serious thought to a fundamental question: are the majority of the people of Hong Kong ready for such extreme political ideas?

Are they likely to support them? And most importantly, are they willing to pay the price and bear the consequence for putting those radical ideas into practice?

Based on my observations, some of those who are preaching new political ideas aren’t even 100 percent clear about the ideas they are advocating, not to mention that some of their political propositions are utterly unrealistic and infeasible.

Even though the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong seems to have hit an all-time low for now, and many pro-democracy activists are feeling disoriented, we must stay focused on our original goal, which is fighting for genuine democracy under the framework laid down by the Basic Law.

We must not forget our unfinished business even amid the recent dazzling blossoming of various new political ideas.

Only by persevering with our initial cause against all the odds can we jump-start the local pro-democracy movement.

As far as the issue of self-determination after the year 2047 is concerned, it is, in fact, equally as important as the unfinished task, lying right in front of us, of fighting for genuine elections, and the two issues interact.

In other words, staying focused on the next battle for greater democracy and getting prepared for the year 2047 can actually go hand-in-hand.

In fact, the more democracy we can achieve before 2047, the stronger the position we will be in when negotiating with Beijing over the destiny of our city after 2047.

On the other hand, it will also be in Beijing’s interest to give us greater democracy, because the more democracy we are allowed to have prior to 2047, the more likely that the people of Hong Kong will continue to favour “one country, two systems” after 2047.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on May 3.

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Legco member representing the Legal functional constituency (2012-2016) and a founding member of Civic Party

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