'Occupy' is ultimately self-destructive

Updated: 2014-10-07 10:18

By Lau Nai-keung(HK Edition)

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Much has been written in foreign media about "Occupy Central". Some now refer to it as the "umbrella revolution". There are those that think this is a great name. But they have in fact given the movement a death sentence.

Let us be clear; "Occupy" is not about universal suffrage. The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC) has confirmed that a system for the election of the Chief Executive (CE) by universal suffrage through elections on the basis of "one person, one vote" will be possible from 2017.

What the occupiers are demanding is "public nomination" - a nomination procedure inconsistent with the Basic Law. The occupiers insist "public nomination" is the only means to obtain what they perceive as "real democracy". They are therefore attempting to defy the central government's legitimate authority to participate in the election process.

Hong Kong is a special place. As a former British colony, it has a unique history and remains the most cosmopolitan city in China. Under the principle of "One Country, Two Systems", as specified in the Basic Law, Hong Kong enjoys many privileges. One of which is the right to operate a different social system from that of the mainland.

This arrangement works only with trust from both sides. The central government must ensure Hong Kong will not use its openness as a weapon against the mainland. For trust to exist, Beijing must have a degree of participation in the CE election. If Hongkongers deny the central government's the right to participate in this process, then the game is over.

'Occupy' is ultimately self-destructive

Given these realities, "Occupy" has reached a dead-end. Indeed, it is no longer clear what the occupiers' demands are, which is only natural because they refuse to be represented by "leaders".

Many of them want CE Leung Chun-ying to quit. But this will not bring the occupiers any closer to achieving "real democracy".

The bottom-line is clear: The NPCSC will not withdraw its decision. At this time of growing separatism, this recourse is simply impossible as so much is at stake in regard to the central government's authority. Leung's removal is not an option, as replacing the CE will serve no purpose. A new CE will not be able to overturn the NPCSC's decision on the electoral framework for the election of the Chief Executive in 2017, so why suggest replacing him?

The central government has again reiterated its full support for Leung and its appreciation of his performance. Anyone who believes Leung may not last the full term is wrong. In fact, his position is more secure than ever. The central government may want him for another term - much to the dismay of the dissidents.

Everybody wants "Occupy" to end peacefully. Who doesn't want to wake up and find life back to normal again? But looking at the situation objectively, the chances of this happening are becoming increasingly remote. There is little room for compromise, unless one or both sides are willing to change things quickly. Violent crackdown or not, the wounds will remain, and they will bleed for a long time. The protesters are getting what they want. They have torn society apart by asking everyone to take sides. In the process, friends have become enemies. They have discredited the police, one of the few remaining groups which normally command everyone's respect. We treasure Hong Kong as a place with the rule of law. But the occupiers are ensuring this is not the case. What good does all this do?

It is clear that the occupiers are fulfilling their own prophecy. They are creating a situation where a crackdown may become inevitable. This will provide further evidence that our government is "authoritarian" and the police are "brutal". The negativity will keep reinforcing itself, if we do not make radical changes to the environment that breeds this nonsense. The key is to change the education system and reduce the amount of irresponsible reporting by the media.

The author is a veteran current affairs commentator.

(HK Edition 10/07/2014 page10)