政治

Civil Disobedience Reflects Dissatisfaction with Government/Evan Fowler

Alan Yeh / flickr

Alan Yeh / flickr

Originally published in the SCMP, 17th September 2014

Your paper published on the 15th September a letter from Mark Peaker that claimed that the level of law enforcement in this city is “laughable” and this encouraged young people to take to the streets to protest (Enforcement of the Law Laughable – SCMP September 15th.) He writes that, “students are confident about engaging in civil disobedience and breaking the law because they believe they shall get away with it”.

Mr Peaker does not seem to understand that civil disobedience is to symbolically break the law to question the legitimacy of authority. To argue that students will break laws just because they can is both a misreading of human nature and of our relationship with authority.

People do not break the law because they can, just as we do not abide by it because it is rigorously enforced. We abide by the law because we believe in what the law represents.

Students and the majority of Hong Kong people do not believe the framework for political reform proposed by the NPCSC will provide the democratic reform this city so desperately needs. 

This is not for any high democratic ideal, and certainly not for any separatist leanings; it is because Hong Kong people want to believe again that they have a government that will listen to their concerns over housing, on how public money is being used, on cross-border immigration, the decline in press freedom and the deteriorating quality of life for the vast majority of Hong Kong residents.

Surveys show that the majority of Hong Kong people would reject the proposed framework, and that this majority is highest among the younger and educated (70%). Many of those who would vote in favour of the proposal do so only out of a sense of resignation. 

The act of civil disobedience proposed by OCLP may not be to everyones liking, but its motivation, the dissatisfaction it represents and what it seeks to challenge is representative of both a reasonable and overwhelmingly popular position.

Civil disobedience is supported, if not in action than in principle, by far more than, in Mr Peaker’s words, “vocal protesters who still have their underwear washed and ironed by their mothers”. Most students I know wash their own clothes. Every person I know living, as Mr Peaker does, on The Peak does not.

The act of breaking the law is a considered and calculated gambit. It may prove to be a poor bet. However, I, for one consider Hong Kong people above the need to be coerced in to abiding by the law. 

原刊於 I’m explaining a few things.

分類:政治

1 reply »

  1. Dear Evan, I do not doubt that the dissatisfaction would come in highest among the “younger and educated,” but are they more educated / informed in terms of the developments of the political reform? Reckoning one indication of how educated these younger generation are, especially those university students, and how “fair and transparent" they are in educating fellow students, would be the material they used to promote the 9.22 sit-in, I took a closer look at the flyer handed out by the HKFS. I must say it is pretty factual and nothing contained in the flyer can be said to be “wrong.” All you have to do is ignore all the critical information censored out:

    Mentioned: The Scholarism proposal received the highest number of votes in the Occupy Central D-Day 3 poll.
    NOT mentioned: Only those who signed the OC pledge were allowed to vote, and even people like Anson Chan, Ronnie Tong, and Joseph Wong Wing-ping, who all submitted proposals WITHOUT public nomination, were all NOT allowed to vote because they didn’t sign the pledge.

    Mentioned: Chief Secretary Ms Carrie Lam “twisted” the Basic Law in denouncing public nomination.
    NOT mentioned: Hong Kong Bar Association rejected any notion of public nomination under the Basic Law.

    Mentioned: The Scholarism proposal received over 300,000 votes and came second in the 6.22 “referendum.”
    NOT mentioned: In a public survey conducted just before the 6.22 voting by the Alliance of True Democracy, 68% of those polled failed to even ONE of the 15 D-Day 3 proposals deemed to satisfy “international standards” by the OC expert panel. The most well-known proposal (Alliance of True Democracy) was recognized by only 9% of those polled.

    Mentioned: The 710,000 support for public nomination in the 6.22 voting was misrepresented as “the opinion of a few” in the government’s first public consultation report.
    NOT mentioned: Those who didn’t advocate pubic nomination, such as Chan, Tong and Wong above, openly asked their supporters to vote for one of the three 6.22 proposals as support for OC even if they did not support public nomination.
    ALSO NOT mentioned: opinion polls up to 6 September showed roughly 52% in favor of accepting the current one-person-one-vote proposal versus 37% against. Moreover, the SCMP poll started on 4 September did show 48% against and 39% for.

    Even when you mentioned that, “Surveys show that the majority of Hong Kong people would reject the proposed framework [by the Standing Committee], and that this majority is highest among the younger and educated (70%),” you failed to mention that this “majority” with 48% of respondents is technically NOT a “majority” (more than half), but a “plurality” (more than the other subsets), and that only 37% of those over 50 supported veto.

    I believe we can do better than that. I believe we should educate with full and transparent information if we believe in the youth and truly want to empower them. Stop being hypocritical and censor unfavorable information just like those we ridicule for doing the same. The sit-in sessions would be the perfect place to start.

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