True democratic values must always be defended

Updated: 2019-11-13 07:18

(HK Edition)

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The protesters say they are against tyranny. Sad to say, they are turning their movement into a tyranny, which is a regime without effective checks against its powers. They appear to be above the law, as they vandalize, hurt people and block roads as they please. Their violence is now threatening the fairness of the District Council elections.

In an interview with a German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle, Joey Siu, a young activist that often speaks for a number of student unions, said the government "forced them to" use violent methods to fight for democracy, which, she said, Beijing had promised. The government "forced them to violence" because the government did not accede to their demands. The host cited the British foreign secretary who said "the violence of a hardcore minority cannot be condoned." Siu responded and said that even though peace is preferred, the protesters have no choice because the government did not respond to their demands. She claimed the government had broken the law in the first place.

True democratic values must always be defended

What is the law that the government had broken in the first place? Disqualifying to-be-sworn-in legislators-elect because they failed to make the oath to serve the SAR, to uphold the Basic Law and to pledge allegiance to the HKSAR of the People's Republic of China is not breaking the law. A Hong Kong court had ruled that disqualification was in compliance with the Oaths and Declarations Ordinance. Since it is stated in the Oaths and Declarations Ordinance that "Any person who declines or neglects to take an oath duly requested which he is required to take by this part, shall (a) if he has already entered on his office, vacate it, and (b) if he has not entered on his office, be disqualified from entering on it, the outcome of failing to take the oath is unequivocal under the terms of the ordinance.

The claim that the government had broken the law in the first place is clearly the result of "taking the law into the protesters' hands". Taking the law onto one's hands is against the rule of law.

There is another complaint that the protesters often make, which is that Beijing had not kept its promise of allowing universal suffrage in Hong Kong to elect the chief executive and legislators. The fact is that, back in 2015, the government had offered an opportunity for a general election of the chief executive of the SAR, but this was rejected. Under the plan, anyone who wants to run for election needs to get a nomination from only 10 percent of members of the Nominating Committee. Once admitted to the race, potential candidates could participate in policy debates publicly. But to be formally admitted as a candidate to stand for election, he or she must gain approval by 50 percent of the Nominating Committee members. This is in accordance with the ruling of the National People's Congress Standing Committee on Aug 31, 2014.

I understand that many people in Hong Kong detest the Aug 31 ruling and want to bypass the Nominating Committee. But the need for the Nominating Committee to first vet the candidates is stipulated in the Basic Law, and it is not a new requirement. This requirement as spelled out in the Basic Law is why Beijing had agreed to allow Hong Kong people to elect their chief executive. This safeguard is to ensure the chief executive will not undermine Beijing's interests. Hong Kong people had never enjoyed the right to elect the governor of their city under British rule. Since 1997, the Legislative Council has progressively gained more and more seats that are elected through general elections. Today, there is not one appointed LegCo member nor one appointed District Council member.

Before the handover, Hong Kong people had agreed to abide by the Basic Law; Beijing had agreed to abide by it also. Let us hope both sides will continue to abide by the terms of the Basic Law in good faith.

If Hong Kong is to belong to the civilized world, Hong Kong people must follow civilized behavior. We must uphold the rule of law, because that is what checks against possible abuses of power.

I understand that the protesters cherish "democracy", but the spirit of democracy and that of the rule of law must not be distorted as one pleases. The spirit of democracy lies in equality of rights and accommodating diversity; the spirit of the rule of law lies in due processes and accepting "all are equal before the law".

Ahead of the District Council elections on Nov 24, let us go back to our senses and give Hong Kong a chance to go back to civilization.

Stop the violence against people who hold different political views.

Stop vandalizing public property that makes our city beautiful, liveable, and safe.

Stop trashing private property, because protection of private property is an important tenet in a market economy and is in the Basic Law.

Stop discriminating against mainland people, because they are human just like us.

Given that so many protesters are Christians, please remember that "God created us equal" and that Jesus never condoned violence.

(HK Edition 11/13/2019 page8)