Speech – Implementing dual universal suffrage (Priscilla Leung)

President, the political deadlock in the past two decades or so caused stagnant constitutional development. It is all about trust after all. Hong Kong people fear being tripped by the Central Authorities while the Central Authorities are afraid of being tripped by the proposals made by the democrats or people from certain camps in Hong Kong; thus, a significant breakthrough cannot be achieved. As there is a serious lack of trust between the Central Authorities and the local authorities, many radical proposals have been raised today.

Today, I bring with me a rope. When I was a Girl Guide in secondary school, my coach told us that we could tie a live knot with this rope and use it to climb up the cliff to save ourselves. We could also tie a dead knot, which is so intertwined cannot it be untied. The current constitutional system seems to be a dead knot, failing to move forward.

On 22 September 2006, three academics, including me, from the Department of Politics, the School of Economics and the Department of Law jointly proposed the three-step procedures of constitutional reform. According to the proposed timetable and roadmap, the electorate of functional constituency will first be broadened, and then move on from one person, two votes to one person, three votes. At that time, many people laughed at us because they considered that it was the most fantastic tale. If we ponder over this point, we will understand that this proposal of one person, many votes is not the ultimate proposal. As long as we can walk that far, I strongly believe that direct election in full scale will then be achieved. The crucial point is how we can make people who are asking for universal suffrage realize that healthy development means achieving universal suffrage in accordance with the principle of gradual and orderly progress, instead of implementing populism and abolishing all representatives of the professional and business sectors in one go. If people can focus on this perspective, they will understand that it may not be impossible to untie this knot of direct elections. Why can’t all roads lead to Rome?

I read the book Between Zero and One (《零與一之間》) written by Prof HO Hsin-hwang when I was studying in university. Everyone wants to move from zero to one as soon as possible, but they will eventually break the glass bottle if they want to reach their goal in one go. I am really astonished and sorry to hear today that Benny TAI, a legal scholar whom I have known for more than 20 years, has unexpectedly called upon people to intentionally violate the law. I have tried to clarify with him whether I have misunderstood him. After debating with him for half an hour in an English-language programme on RTHK, I trust that I have not misunderstood him. He is really calling upon people to intentionally violate the law.

First of all, he is calling upon 10 000 or 30 000 people to besiege Central but not the Legislative Council, hoping that those who go to work and engage in commercial activities in Central would stop and think about their proposed democratic proposals. He also hopes that the police will not have sufficient manpower to arrest them. They will then go to the Wan Chai Police Station to turn themselves in, so as to paralyse the police’s registration procedures, forcing the Central Authorities to put all their cards on the table. They want to find out if the People’s Liberation Army will be mobilized. Why do they want to put an end to the negotiations? Has Hong Kong come to such a point that the Police Force cannot work at all, just like their counterparts in the Philippines? All of us should recall that, two years ago, a sergeant fell to his death from a flyover in Wan Chai when he attempted to rescue a demonstrator out of good intention. Have Honourable colleagues visited the families of the sergeant who was only in  his forties? There are many similar unintended consequences, and even a
well-planned activity involving 10 000 or 30 000 people may not necessarily come under control.

I have received two emails today; some audiences asked me to read out the views they expressed after listening to the debate yesterday. As it is an English-language programme, the letter is also written in English and the audience may be a foreigner. He is not against people’s fight for democracy and their ideals, but he wonders why they have to penalize law-abiding citizens. He wants to go to work as usual and he hopes that the stock market can operate as usual. Why will he be forced by people fighting for their ideals to stop carrying out his normal activities? He queries that you may love me, but why do you want me to stop doing everything and force me to love you? Is Hong Kong not a pluralistic society? Another email asks what should be done if there is an emergency in Hong Kong because the police cannot work anymore. These people have even worked out timetables about when the police station will be paralysed. Are they inviting the criminals to take the opportunity to rob goldsmith shops? The police will be at a loss how to deploy policemen and the administrative functions will also be paralysed. Some members of the community have especially raised these questions and they have asked me to read out their comments.

I earnestly hope that people fighting for democracy will not take actions at the expense of the normal operation of Hong Kong, and that they will respect Hong Kong as a pluralistic society. It is a good deed to fight for democracy but I hope their actions will not be daunting and they will not go to the extremes. Why have they called upon people to violate the law? Why can they not fight for democracy according to legal provisions? When I first engaged in politics, I was just an academic without any experience, but later I have been directly elected. I will try my best to co-operate and I also want to encourage more people from the business and professional sectors to have confidence in the direct election system. It is very difficult to strive for people’s confidence; once the economic lifeline and the Police Force have been paralysed, I believe the negotiation process will remain stagnant for at least five years, and the democratic ideal of these people cannot be realized.

I really hope that people fighting for democracy would wake up to the danger at the last moment and that they will not stifle the normal negotiations. They should not say that it is the responsibility of the Central Authorities because we all have the responsibilities. They actually have greater responsibilities, especially when they are calling for people to paralyse the Police Force, and I hope they would not do so. I also urge Prof Benny TAI to rethink this dream. I think he is dreaming, but I am not sure if anybody will be sacrificed when tens of thousands of people really respond to his appeal and take actions to paralyse Hong Kong. He may have forgotten about the sight of the man who attempted to jump off the bridge kneeling down in repentance. I believe that all of us want to contribute to the well-being of Hong Kong; yet, I implore those people to think twice and refrain from taking such actions.

I so submit, President.


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