Here’s why lawmakers should vote down the bill today.
1. It doesn’t make any difference
The bill merely codifies current practice for an enlarged voter group. If 2012 were run on the new rules we’d still have CY Leung, a crony of Beijing, vs Henry Tang, a crony of the cronies. It’s an exercise in screening out those who would put the needs of Hong Kong people ahead of the CCP and makes no difference to the governance of Hong Kong.
2. It really doesn’t make any difference
Former Central Policy Unit head and reliable Beijing surrogate Lau Siu-kai is one of several to have pointed out that the CE is appointed by Beijing and the Hong Kong poll, regardless of the electorate size, is for Beijing’s reference only. If a democratic candidate were elected he or she would not be appointed. So why are we bothering?
3. Not even the government can think of a reason for supporting it
In the last few weeks we’ve had a drumbeat of warnings that voting down the bill “will set back political reform”; as if after 18 years without any reform this even mattered. Likewise during the consultation (or ‘consultation’) period no pro-government figure was ever able to mount a political argument in favour of this pallid reform. The many serious and detailed proposals from democratic groups were all batted away on alleged legal grounds. Inevitably this led to absurdities like the claim that democracy would make Hong Kong an independent state.
4. The dishonest and undemocratic process
From the shifty initial government report to the threats to Hong Kong for voting against the bill, this has been a deeply undemocratic consultation process. Democracy is a system that it is equal and binding on all parties. It is not a gift that can be bestowed on a grateful population, as Beijing has framed this. Most telling is Beijing’s unwillingness to compromise on any aspect while at the same denouncing lawmakers for not giving way. We shouldn’t forget the repeated use of rent-a-crowd protestors and thugs; the Communist Party still thinks it’s fighting the KMT on the streets of Shanghai.
5. It won’t stop the dismantling of Hong Kong’s democratic institutions
Beijing’s vision for Hong Kong is to become a kind of second Singapore, with Potemkin democratic institutions, a quiescent press and a hagiographic education system, as well as our own unique brand of cronyism. This political reform is meant to allow Beijing to maintain direct control behind a democratic facade. Hong Kong people have nothing to gain by helping sustain this phony narrative. Voting against the bill sends a signal that we seek full democratic accountability from our rulers and that we reject the whittling away of the independence of the press, police, universities and ICAC.