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Tragedy in the making ? Michael E. DeGolyer Director, Hong Kong Transition Project Professor of Government & International Studies 9 Dec 2009/9 Jan 2010.

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Presentation on theme: "Tragedy in the making ? Michael E. DeGolyer Director, Hong Kong Transition Project Professor of Government & International Studies 9 Dec 2009/9 Jan 2010."— Presentation transcript:

1 Tragedy in the making ? Michael E. DeGolyer Director, Hong Kong Transition Project Professor of Government & International Studies 9 Dec 2009/9 Jan 2010

2 In 2003 over half a million people demonstrated There was no violence, though minister’s cars were surrounded and prevented from leaving

3 2003 Demands:

4 2003 Stop Article 23 legislationStop Article 23 legislation Protect freedoms, especially of the pressProtect freedoms, especially of the press Hold incompetent ministers accountable: Dismiss themHold incompetent ministers accountable: Dismiss them

5 2003 Resistance led by academics (Article 23 Concern Group) and NGOsResistance led by academics (Article 23 Concern Group) and NGOs Reputations for community mindedness and idealismReputations for community mindedness and idealism Concern for Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability apparentConcern for Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability apparent Democrats seens as positive force even though critical and calling for protestsDemocrats seens as positive force even though critical and calling for protests

6 3 key contexts 1.SARS surprise from mainland censoring made freedom of the press literally a life or death freedom 2.Economic collapse of March-May made stakes clear: personal & family survival depended on government competence & freedom of information 3.Belief that Tung Chee-hwa was incompetent. HE was Hong Kong’s governance problem

7 3 key differences 1.Government-business collusion not an issue 2.Personal business of FS was an issue. (car purchase before tax increase) Unfairness not seen as a system issue. 3.Personal view of Sec of Security was an issue. (Democracy produced Hitler)

8 Chief Executive’s choice of ministers seen as main problem, not the system. Change the CE, problems solved

9 2003 effects Massive turnout, no violenceMassive turnout, no violence Academics and NGOs seen as moderates and trust in them highAcademics and NGOs seen as moderates and trust in them high Government withdrew Article 23 legislationGovernment withdrew Article 23 legislation Ministers resigned, Tung retreatsMinisters resigned, Tung retreats

10 2003 effects Academics organize a new party (Civic Party)Academics organize a new party (Civic Party) Democrats triumph in 2003 District Council elections and 2004 Legco electionsDemocrats triumph in 2003 District Council elections and 2004 Legco elections Tung resigns (2005), replaced by civil service veteranTung resigns (2005), replaced by civil service veteran

11 Government support went up considerably from March 2005Government support went up considerably from March 2005 Government submitted a 2005 reform plan that a near majority supported, after the factGovernment submitted a 2005 reform plan that a near majority supported, after the fact Democrats got blamed for obstruction when vetoedDemocrats got blamed for obstruction when vetoed Democrats ran candidate for CE in Obstruction and negative reputation from reform veto reduced, but not eliminated.Democrats ran candidate for CE in Obstruction and negative reputation from reform veto reduced, but not eliminated.

12 2008 Government was on track to reduce democratic seats from 26 to in 2008 Legco election... until business-government collusion issue exploded with post-retirement hiring of ex-housing director by developerGovernment was on track to reduce democratic seats from 26 to in 2008 Legco election... until business-government collusion issue exploded with post-retirement hiring of ex-housing director by developer 2008 Legco election, Democrats cut to 23 seats from 26, despite government bungle, poor DAB campaign2008 Legco election, Democrats cut to 23 seats from 26, despite government bungle, poor DAB campaign New, radical populist party rises (LSD) on back of wealth gap, government-business collusionNew, radical populist party rises (LSD) on back of wealth gap, government-business collusion

13 Situation now Public now thinks government in pocket of big businessPublic now thinks government in pocket of big business Public now thinks Hong Kong governance problem not a person, but a systemPublic now thinks Hong Kong governance problem not a person, but a system Growing frustration of lower income groups (before, lower income groups more supportive of government).Growing frustration of lower income groups (before, lower income groups more supportive of government).

14 Situation now More students in lower income groups instead of oldstersMore students in lower income groups instead of oldsters Students becoming radicalizedStudents becoming radicalized LSD leading breakdown in social restraints by throwing objects at CELSD leading breakdown in social restraints by throwing objects at CE LSD insists participating in Legco and other government processes is futileLSD insists participating in Legco and other government processes is futile

15 Scenario Civic Party legitimizes LSD position on futility of participation in Legco by joining resignation gambitCivic Party legitimizes LSD position on futility of participation in Legco by joining resignation gambit Loss of 2-4 seats in by-election. Low turnout delegitimizes results. Legco as representative and check on CE and government damagedLoss of 2-4 seats in by-election. Low turnout delegitimizes results. Legco as representative and check on CE and government damaged Restraints on LSD now removed. Must lead movement and stay in public view, so radicalizes further. Attacks government as corrupt and owned by business. Attacks gain credibilityRestraints on LSD now removed. Must lead movement and stay in public view, so radicalizes further. Attacks government as corrupt and owned by business. Attacks gain credibility

16 Scenario Government passes “reform” plan that makes 2012 elections a “farce” according to LSD. Civic Party breaks up or becomes like Citizens Party (ineffective, leaderless and soon, gone)Government passes “reform” plan that makes 2012 elections a “farce” according to LSD. Civic Party breaks up or becomes like Citizens Party (ineffective, leaderless and soon, gone) Democratic Party damaged by distrust among CP supporters (did DP members really do their best to help in the by-election?). Loses radicals to LSD.Democratic Party damaged by distrust among CP supporters (did DP members really do their best to help in the by-election?). Loses radicals to LSD. Many moderate democrats radicalized or demoralizedMany moderate democrats radicalized or demoralized Remaining moderate democrats have no one to vote for, no leaders, no organization.Remaining moderate democrats have no one to vote for, no leaders, no organization.

17 Spiral to tragedy Bad economy reduces opportunity for youth and studentsBad economy reduces opportunity for youth and students Mainlanders perceived to “crowd out” Hong Kong students from university, jobsMainlanders perceived to “crowd out” Hong Kong students from university, jobs Government discredited in terms of competence or legitimacyGovernment discredited in terms of competence or legitimacy Government becomes more arrogant and out of touch with only shattered, ineffectual democrats left, unable to stop governmentGovernment becomes more arrogant and out of touch with only shattered, ineffectual democrats left, unable to stop government

18 Spiral to tragedy Either no reform, or current “reform” leaving FCs untouched and DCs with appointees and DC members in Legco “elected” by method ensuring no democrats in seatsEither no reform, or current “reform” leaving FCs untouched and DCs with appointees and DC members in Legco “elected” by method ensuring no democrats in seats Government further delegitimizedGovernment further delegitimized LSD demonstrates and attacks government continually, but increasingly seen as ineffectual or just campaigning for 2012 election (self- interested)LSD demonstrates and attacks government continually, but increasingly seen as ineffectual or just campaigning for 2012 election (self- interested)

19 Spiral to Tragedy Students denounce LSD as useless and only interested in votes in 2012 electionStudents denounce LSD as useless and only interested in votes in 2012 election Frustration builds, direct action demands riseFrustration builds, direct action demands rise Economic downturn and/or wealth gap increasesEconomic downturn and/or wealth gap increases Job opportunities for students constrictJob opportunities for students constrict Alienation and sense of hopelessness buildsAlienation and sense of hopelessness builds

20 Spiral to Tragedy Violence begins late 2010 or 2011Violence begins late 2010 or 2011 Attacks on rich, on luxury cars, luxury shops first, then escalates to attacks on government officials, government buildingsAttacks on rich, on luxury cars, luxury shops first, then escalates to attacks on government officials, government buildings Government cracks down, populace demonstrates, violence flares, police respondGovernment cracks down, populace demonstrates, violence flares, police respond

21 Repercussions Democrats discredited as equivalent to violent, ideological 1960s leftistsDemocrats discredited as equivalent to violent, ideological 1960s leftists Democrats discredited. Not having Hong Kong’s best interest at heartDemocrats discredited. Not having Hong Kong’s best interest at heart Moderates turn to whoever offers to restore order and increase legitimacy of governmentModerates turn to whoever offers to restore order and increase legitimacy of government

22 Repercussions Either Henry Tang as CE in 2012 (exacerbating delegitimization of government and belief in corrupt big business domination) Possibility of violence increasesEither Henry Tang as CE in 2012 (exacerbating delegitimization of government and belief in corrupt big business domination) Possibility of violence increases Or CY Leung or Regina Ip elected as CE in 2012 who leads reform of corporate voting and restores belief in legitimacy of government while making democrats look like violence prone idealogues who cannot be trusted with Hong Kong’s future.Or CY Leung or Regina Ip elected as CE in 2012 who leads reform of corporate voting and restores belief in legitimacy of government while making democrats look like violence prone idealogues who cannot be trusted with Hong Kong’s future. Pan-democratic movement shattered. Democratic parties become mere handful in LegcoPan-democratic movement shattered. Democratic parties become mere handful in Legco

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24 Can Tragedy be avoided?

25 Allies & pressures LP and many businesses (Bus & Professional Federation) support end of corporate votingLP and many businesses (Bus & Professional Federation) support end of corporate voting DAB supports end of corporate votingDAB supports end of corporate voting Henry Tang has conceeded principle of expanding FC franchise with his everyone with two votes someday remark. Challenge to prove government sincerity by ending corporate voting in 2012Henry Tang has conceeded principle of expanding FC franchise with his everyone with two votes someday remark. Challenge to prove government sincerity by ending corporate voting in 2012

26 Allies & pressures Isolate big business, non-competitive FC seats by challenging them to defend: Non-competition and corporate votes where some directors get say and others do not (unfairness)Isolate big business, non-competitive FC seats by challenging them to defend: Non-competition and corporate votes where some directors get say and others do not (unfairness) Government-business collusion and corrupt dealsGovernment-business collusion and corrupt deals Hammer away at growing likelihood of unrest if reform not madeHammer away at growing likelihood of unrest if reform not made LET the LSD resign and refer to them as destructive of legitimacy and good order, also as betrayers of pan- democrat’s ability to check governmentLET the LSD resign and refer to them as destructive of legitimacy and good order, also as betrayers of pan- democrat’s ability to check government

27 Allies & Pressures Expand franchise, widen representation of FCsExpand franchise, widen representation of FCs Research proves this INCREASES support for abolition of FCsResearch proves this INCREASES support for abolition of FCs Push for everyone to have a second vote in FCs OR for FCs to be abolished OR consolidated to abolitionPush for everyone to have a second vote in FCs OR for FCs to be abolished OR consolidated to abolition Corporates must believe they will either hand over power to their employees in the FC seats, or they must compete like other corporates abroad in the GC seats by funding pro-business parties and candidates. Alternative is violence, weak government, alienated youthCorporates must believe they will either hand over power to their employees in the FC seats, or they must compete like other corporates abroad in the GC seats by funding pro-business parties and candidates. Alternative is violence, weak government, alienated youth

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