There's a saying about a fixed race: Make it close and people still watch. We are falling into that trap when we discuss the candidates for Chief Executive as if this fake election matters. We pretend John Tsang's financial plan offers stability or Carrie Lam’s ties to Beijing can afford us greater elbow room.
Truth be told, none of it matters, only we the people do. The freedoms we are to be granted in 2047 have no connection with who is our CE in 2017, or for that matter in 2027. Our struggle with Beijing will determine that. We are the masters of our own destiny, and we should accept it as clearly as Beijing already does.
Was 689 ever more than an agent of Beijing? CH Tung any more than an errand boy? Will John Tsang stand up for us? Does Beijing really care what messages our CE brings to them?
Owning up to our destiny is not surrender or arrogance, it is simply the reality. I never really could muster much emotion about any of our CEs. After all, yelling at them is like complaining to the butler who will not let you in the house. Hired hands following their master’s orders are not our problem, their master is our problem. The CE election is a game of charades designed to distract us from our struggle with Beijing.
Yes, it is a struggle. Not a fight or a flare up, but a struggle as certain as civil rights was a struggle in the United States or democracy a struggle in Taiwan and South Korea.
A long struggle takes a strong base and the outcome of our struggle will be determined by how well we defend our greatest strengths. First and foremost we must hold our veto in Legco, all the while expanding our reach into functional constituencies. We can't hope to run government, but we can stop it from running over us.
Second, we must keep our markets open, trade free, and government at bay. It's leverage over our financial lives that government seeks, and to surrender any economic power to them is to take a step away freedom. Free trade, low taxes, light regulation, and the rule of law is the mix of economic independence that can secure our personal and political freedoms.
Meanwhile, we must be wise about throwing our lot in with localist radicals who, by provoking Beijing into direct intervention, can end us as China’s freest city overnight. It's romantic to stand at the barricade, but it never ends well.
Similarly, some of our democratic leaders who seek to find a fix, a quick solution, to all of this are none the wiser. By reaching out to Beijing, Ronny Tong is well meaning, but what cards do we have to play against a regime that insists on absolute control? And when has Beijing offered anything near reasonable?
No, it is best that we understand our journey is long and there will be inevitable setbacks along the way. Most of these will be out of our control, such as trouble China may have in Asia or confrontation with the United States. But good things await us as well. Yes, China under Xi is a darker place than in past decades, but Xi will not be there forever; and a more open China will mean more freedom for us.
Since 1997 all our Beijing appointed CEs have failed us. No doubt they will continue to fail. But so what? Article 23, National Education and the Umbrella Movement have begotten Legco wins, demonstrating it is the people of Hong Kong who have done the deals with Beijing. We the people, not Beijing’s hired hands, have done it at the ballot box and on the streets. We the people have protected our rights and our livelihoods.
I don't care who becomes the next CE. But I know Beijing cares what we the people think and more importantly how we act. We make the deals with Beijing, and Beijing knows it.
caption:We the people doing it on the streets.(Apple Daily photo)