Dialogue with the losers trumps talking to the winners

December 13, 2019 18:48
Hundreds of thousands stage a march in Hong Kong on Dec. 8. The mass rally, which came after a big win for the pro-democracy camp in the Nov. 24 DC election, has failed to stir the city’s leader into responding to the public’s demands. Photo: Reuters

The citizens have spoken, most definitively on the streets but in even bigger numbers at the ballot and what has been the response from the Lam administration? Almost unbelievably the first thing that the Chief Executive in Name Only (CENO) did was to set up meetings with the people who lost the District Council elections while totally ignoring those who secured the people’s mandate.

Moreover it appears that she will now be busying herself finding jobs for the losers because her number one priority is to ensure that the people rejected by the electors are not abandoned by her government.

Here we see the reality of what she meant when, after the election, she declared her intention to listen 'humbly' to the voices of the people. Even the most cynical observers did not imagine that this meant only paying attention to the pro-China stooges.

And there's more. It now appears that the CENO will run away from the only opportunity she has to speak face to face with elected democrats as she also intends to abandon question and answer sessions in Legco.

It is astonishing but true to note that in the six months since the protests have erupted the CENO has not once engaged in dialogue with elected democrats but her door is forever open to anyone from the pro-China camp, even though they have taken to abusing her.

Neither the CENO nor her team of waxworks have any idea how to contact those on the protest frontlines but they have every opportunity to speak to well-established organizations such as the Civil and Human Rights Front, which has organized the biggest rallies seen in Hong Kong's history, or she could contact the established democrat party representatives even though she is loath to speak to their Legco representatives. However she has shown not the slightest interest in doing this.

Instead she had convoluted plans for a dialogue platform, now apparently abandoned, and then there are the alleged meetings with 'youth', confined, yet again to those who are partial to the taste of Beijing duck.

A tantalizing moment of opportunity for reaching out to the opposition arose following the 800,000-strong peaceful rally on December 8, coming hot on the heels of the successful holding of elections. But Mrs Lam is always determined to never miss a chance to miss a chance. So, instead of focusing on the rally's demands the best she could muster by way of response was to say that the very fact that the rally was held somehow demonstrated that the SAR's freedoms were in good shape.

In case anyone missed her message, which amounts to only being prepared to listen to her own echo chamber, she followed this up by solemnly telling the public that there was an urgent need to launch another white terror, this time on teachers who dare to sympathize with the democracy movement.

The justification for this was the arrest of a teacher following a protest, evidence if any evidence were needed that the entire teaching profession was under suspicion of provoking violent action. That, at any rate, is how matters are seen through the CENO's eyes.

The narrative of violence is indeed the only one that Lam likes to talk about. Conveniently, on the eve of the December 8 rally and immediately afterwards the police uncovered a cache of weapons. The first cache has been declared to have been prepared for use against the police during the rally. The so-called 'evidence' for this was a message posted on an open messaging app.

The second cache, consisting of two homemade bombs, was even more conveniently found on school premises. The school in question adamantly denies that anyone connected with it is responsible. But 'police sources' talking to 'reliable' media outlets have let it be known that they are confident that these bombs belong to the protest movement.

These weapons discoveries are remarkably timely and fit neatly into the only narrative that officials have to explain why Hong Kong is in turmoil. The causes of the turmoil are resolutely ignored but there seems to be a belief that if the mantra of violence can be repeated often enough, all problems will be solved.

The CENO's days are numbered, so maybe what she does or does not say is not terribly important. However the reality is that she hardly dares to open her mouth without getting approval from Beijing, so what we are really hearing is their stoically uncompromising voice. Another puppet will soon be found to mouth the words.

Meanwhile back in Legco, the pro-China camp, which has proved its inability to win an election, is using the power derived from a rigged system, where only half the members are elected by universal suffrage, to try and expel yet another two democrats. The representatives being targeted now are Tanya Chan and Shiu Ka-chun who had been convicted earlier this year for some activities related to the 2014 Umbrella Movement. That, presumably, is the best the establishment bloc can do by way of revenge. The camp’s mean and petty moves can only provide another boost for the pro-democracy vote in next year's Legco election.

-- Contact us at [email protected]


Hong Kong-based journalist, broadcaster and book author. His latest book, Defying the Dragon – Hong Kong and the world’s largest dictatorship, will be published by Hurst Publishers in early 2021.