Democracy is the will of the majority which also respects minority rights. Such principles are supposed to be upheld by the pan-democrats.
However, they have said that even if the majority of people support the proposal for the 2017 chief executive election – which Beijing has laid out in a framework, allowing Hong Kong people “one man, one vote” – they will still vote down the package in the Legislative Council.
Their pledge is a clear reflection of “the tyranny of the minority”. In a democracy, minority views are respected and those holding unpopular views must not be oppressed, but it doesn’t mean the minority should impose their views on the majority.
With such a mentality – people following only their own wishes – the pan-democrats and their allies have insisted on continuing with the Occupy Central movement, even though polls have shown that more than half the people say they will accept “one man, one vote” in the chief executive election even if the nomination procedure is unsatisfactory.
Sadly, this minority action has made society increasingly divided. In Hong Kong, the majority of the community are moderates. They generally shun loud protests but some have been forced to take a stand. Sometimes I wonder if the minority knows that freedom of speech is the inseparable element of a democratic society.
Meanwhile, moderate democrats who had proposed different political reform plans have been smeared and labelled as “mavericks” or people who do not even care about democracy. As a result, there are no more “moderate democrats”. This is why we have such extreme social polarisation today.
To make matters worse, the idealistic pubic nomination put forward by the Occupy Central initiators attracted young and innocent minds. Student associations at over a dozen higher education institutions have declared that they will take part in class boycotts, with some saying they are going to join Occupy Central. It should be noted, however, that few countries or places in the world have systems that allow public nomination. In Hong Kong, seeking to achieve such a system – which is unconstitutional and had been ruled out by Beijing – will not help us reach the target of universal suffrage. The price to pay for pushing this course of action is not worthwhile.
I share the aspirations of achieving universal suffrage for the chief executive election. Having five million voters choose our chief executive is a big step towards democracy, rather than having our leader chosen by a committee of 1,200, so we must not let this opportunity slip away.
There are no absolute and universal standards of democracy. Different systems have been built to suit different countries and jurisdictions. “One man, one vote” in Hong Kong would mean having for the first time our chief executive chosen on the basis of direct election. Neither the British prime minister nor the president of the US is directly elected by individual voters. Besides, in Britain, there is no public nomination, yet few have queried whether UK elections are “genuine”.
The pan-democrats’ fight for their “genuine universal suffrage” involves imposing their idealistic models on the majority without recognising the fundamental framework of “one country, two systems”. It will be to no avail.
Furthermore, the minority’s campaign has made our long tradition of peaceful protests harder to maintain. If the Occupy plan goes ahead, some radicals will take advantage of the situation to make trouble. Participants, including students, may be put in danger and even end up in jail.
People should carefully consider the consequences of their actions.