Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Democracy is not the real issue

By Lau Nai-Keung (China Daily) Updated: 2014-09-03 09:30

The implications of this are simple. Contrary to what the dissidents would have us believe - we cannot nominate and elect anyone we like. That is why the dissidents have long advocated the idea that we should not place "One Country" before "Two Systems". It is also why some radicals now openly call for "independence". Everyone within the local political circle knows well that the "genuine democracy" concept being promoted by the dissidents is incompatible with the principle of "One Country, Two Systems", under which Hong Kong is a special administrative region of the People's Republic of China.

As a special administrative region of China, the chief executive must be selected from a pool of candidates that is acceptable to the central government. This will be a confined set of choices, but it does not mean that it will not be a "genuinely" democratic process. When you think about it, options are always limited. There is no such thing as unlimited choice. It is all a matter of proportion.

Democracy is not the real issue"Occupy Central" represents a group of people who refuse to accept the post-colonial reality of life in the HKSAR. They claim they want unlimited choice - what they call the only "genuine" arrangement. But what they really want is to have an independent Hong Kong which is not accountable to the central government.

On Sunday, "Occupy Central" supporters brought along some noise-making items (such as metal spoons, plates and pots). They said this was to "wake up Beijing and the Hong Kong government who have so far not heard the people's voice". Soon, we may see them hosting picnics. At the end of the day, they will occupy one place or another, or perform other equally self-destructive acts. This is the outlet for their frustration that their vision of an independent Hong Kong is as elusive as ever.

The majority of Hongkongers do not share the dissidents' deep-seated resentment toward the existing political order. They accept that Hong Kong is a territory of China, one granted a high degree of autonomy, but not full autonomy. They do not approve of Jimmy Lai Chee-ying's political donations. Neither do they want Hong Kong to lose its privileges as recipient of the many preferential policies offered by the central government.

"Occupy" actions are bound to happen, but they will be relatively small. It is important that we put things in perspective and do not overreact.

The author is a veteran current affairs commentator.

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