The elected Legislative Council (LegCo) of Hong Kong, which held its first election 24 years ago, finally came to an end. The grand scheme of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) featured several steps. It first canceled the election. Then it established a provisional LegCo, a move in violation of Hong Kong’s mini-constitution. Afterwards it disqualified four LegCo members in an insulting manner. The series of attacks on the pro-democracy camp culminated in the collective resignation of all pro-democracy lawmakers. The city’s mostly pro-Beijing legislature was thus effectively turned into a rubber stamp for government policy and laws, as the Wall Street Journal put it.
Since the CCP disqualified five LegCo candidates including Chan Ho-tin and Edward Leung without meeting any resistance, the disqualification of Yau Wai-ching and Baggio Leung Chung-hang and the four pro-democracy lawmakers as mentioned, the cancellation of the latest election and the establishment of the provisional legislative Council were all destined to happen. Recently a veteran fortuneteller said in a media interview that “even if you were a fortuneteller with great supernatural power, you wouldn’t have been able to predict the CCP to be this bad.” I know nothing about fortune-telling but I suppose it doesn’t take a seasoned fortuneteller to tell a rabbit what a lion wants to do when the latter opens its mouth. Likewise, a man in a forest doesn’t need to observe the sky like an astrologer to understand why a tiger nearby wants to eat him.
Lions capture rabbits and tigers prey on humans not because they are bad but because it is in their nature to do so. That is the law of nature. Likewise, it is the law of politics when authoritarian regimes do all they can to safeguard and expand their power and dictators exhaust all means to oppress and persecute their opponents. Lions do not refrain from eating rabbits that look cute, just as dictators do not stop oppressing their opponents just because the latter adopt peaceful means. History has repeatedly shown us that under a dictatorship, some opponents get persecuted first before others, but no opponents - be they peaceful or radical - are spared. Once the fire of protestation burns out, everyone will be persecuted. Remember the famous prose? “First they came for the socialists... and there was no one left to speak for me.”
Recently, the government and the pr0-establishment camp hinted again that the oath-taking law will be revised and the change will cover the District Council. When that happens, pro-democracy district councilors in various districts will be removed. As LegCo has died, the District Council cannot stay alive. There is no need to get a fortuneteller to predict what is going to happen. Many of my fellow district councilors believe the government will not allow us to complete our four-year term. Even the most optimistic ones reckon the government will further trim the power of the District Council, which has long been in bad shape anyway. Eventually, it will only exist by name.
The CCP worries about people’s mandate for lawmakers and district councilors
The LegCo front is dead, but what is the cause of death? Under the CCP’s control, the LegCo and the District Council have no real power. In truth, many members get disqualified, but what they care about are not their seats but public recognition and their ability to shape public opinion. What worries the CCP is not the veto Joshua Wong has if he is elected as a LegCo member but his ability to speak to the international community in the capacity of a LegCo member. What worries the CCP is not the possible conflict among district councilors but our mobilizing people to join the resistance. The CCP worries that people give us the mandate which we will use to unite more people and strengthen the force of resistance. Such is the real cause of death of LegCo.
Once we understand all this, we should set up a separate platform for citizens to discuss politics and to bring together people representing public opinions. Through this platform, we can discuss politics, consolidate public opinions, and boost people’s morale. The CCP wants to take away the mandate we enjoy, and so we seek greater political mandate from Hongkongers through a civic discussion platform. The CCP wants to take away our right to speak, and so we get together and make our voices heard more effectively. As Benny Tai Yiu-ting said, the next step of resistance in Hong Kong involves the civil society of Hong Kong establishing a mechanism that runs parallel with official mechanisms, saying no to authoritarian rule, demonstrating the civil power, and regaining the right to speak. Through such a mechanism, we will be able to continue to speak up for Hong Kong people, keep the fire of resistance burning and wait for the next outbreak.
(Raymond Li Chi-wang, Shatin District Councilor)
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