Post-election politics & the idea of HK
Updated: 2012-09-19 06:56
By Lau Nai-keung (HK Edition)
The LegCo election has concluded at last. To the surprise of many who mistook sensationalist journalism as truth, the pro-establishment camp won a lot more seats despite the anti-national education fanfare. Their numbers of seats won by popular vote are now almost at par with those of the dissidents who traditionally hold sway over this sector of the LegCo. At the same time, the radicals among the dissidents have also gained ground.
Not only are rational negotiation and compromise not approved by the dissident supporters, other more "universal" issues also gave way to a more parochial focus. That's why the Civil Party (CP) had to drop its abstract legalism and environmentalism, which the party leadership at first thought would attract middle-class professionals. The CP finally settled on the simplistic one-liner - anti-Communization - during the election campaign.
What is at stake after the election is the definition of the idea of Hong Kong. We have to go back to basics and ask what it means, and has meant, to be a "Hong Konger"? These questions are not empty scholastic exercises, but of paramount importance, as recent developments confirmed.
During the demonstration this July 1, a group called HKAM (Hong Kong City-State Autonomy Movement) took the British Hong Kong flag, cut out the Union Jack on the upper left hand corner, and called it the "Dragon Lion Flag". To this movement, the flag is a symbol of real autonomous rule. They believe that if Hong Kong were under real autonomous rule, the D&G incident - the alleged suppression of rights to use public space - would not have happened because the HKSAR government would give the interest of local Hong Kongers.
Behind this school of thought now in vogue among the radical dissidents is the "Hong Kong City State Theory", as advocated in a recent bestseller of the same name by Chan Wan, now teaching at the Lingnan University. The theory proposes that Hong Kong should view itself as an ancient Greek-style city state, defending its own values, culture and political system. The proponents believe that a democratic China is too remote to be worth fighting for, and that Hong Kongers should therefore not risk themselves liberating the mainland people.
Most of our policy-makers believe that this radicalism and separatism will go away if Hong Kong's "deep-seated contradictions" are resolved. Employing mechanical Marxist analysis, they conclude that better paying jobs and bigger houses are all that is needed to solve the problems. In reality, economic rewards are necessary, but they are certainly insufficient to make people happy in an affluent society such as ours.
Ignoring the ideological dimension of the social conflicts is going to lead Hong Kong into disaster. Last weekend, close to a thousand Hong Kongers demonstrated against Japan's provocations over Diaoyu Islands. At the same time a different group of residents protested two days in a row at the Sheung Shui MTR station against an influx of couriers transporting goods across the border. While the anti-Japan rally resonated with the general sentiment of Chinese people around the globe, the Sheung Shui protests evolved into a highly localized "Recapture Sheung Shui Station" movement, with "Chinese people get back to China" as one of the slogans.
The danger of this polarization lies not so much in the tendency of the parochial group to use violence against police and mainlanders, but in the indication that Hong Kong's bonding with the mainland has become increasingly fragile and questionable. Our "Hong Kongness" and its relationship with our "Chineseness" (to the extent that we are Chinese) is in desperate need of re-clarifications in view of our changed relationships vis-a-vis the Chinese mainland and the rest of the world.
Now that radicalism is normalized and has become the new mainstream for dissident politics, we must meet their ideologies head-on. The "Hong Kong City State Theory" will be a good place to start the confrontation. What we need are not straight-forward answers, but a grand debate that recognizes our differences but still remain Chinese.
Our CE, pro-establishment politicians and academics have been avoiding these issues for far too long. Now it is time for them to perform their public duty as a Hong Kong citizen in the SAR.
The author is a member of the Commission on Strategic Development.
(HK Edition 09/19/2012 page3)