Generation 40s – 四十世代

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Political report reflects the poverty of Hong Kong government thinking

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South China Morning Post
Business
2015-01-08

Howard Winn

The Report on the Recent Community and Political Situation in Hong Kong is an extraordinary document.

The government agreed to prepare it during its meeting with students last year because the students said the government’s report on the public consultation on the methods for selecting the chief executive in 2017, which was sent to the central government early last year, did not accurately reflect the views of the people of Hong Kong. The idea was that a more honest report would be sent to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress in the hope that it would then feel obliged to amend its August 31 decision in favour of something more palatable to Hong Kong people.

The press release accompanying the Hong Kong government’s second stab at this says the report “reflects truthfully the events related to constitutional development, as well as the opinions and aspirations expressed by different sectors of the community from August 31 to December 15 last year in Hong Kong”. Then we turn to the introduction of the report and are surprised to see a disclaimer: “This report is a collection of materials in the public domain. The HKSAR government has not undertaken any independent investigation to verify the accuracy of such materials.”

Despite this disclaimer, the government nevertheless feels it can claim in its conclusion, “It is the common aspiration of the central authorities, the HKSAR government, and the people of Hong Kong to implement universal suffrage for the [chief executive] election in 2017 in Hong Kong as scheduled and strictly in accordance with the Basic Law and the relevant interpretation and decisions of the NPCSC.”

Given the government’s description of how it compiled its report, this conclusion is completely unjustified. The main body of the report is a chronology of events and utterances. Leung Chun-ying said this, Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai remarked on that, this group of people went on strike (without saying why), the South China Morning Post announced the results of a poll without giving the result.

It is an excruciatingly tedious document which goes on endlessly recounting meaningless pieces of information. There is no attempt at any kind of analysis. It’s not really a report. It is landfill material – a real low point in government publications. The government presumably thinks it has produced a presentation of “facts” and these offer an “objective” reflection of the people’s views.

By presenting them in this way it can’t be accused of bias. But a meaningless jumble of facts doesn’t tell anybody anything, which is presumably why it is presented in this way.

The Basic Law says in Article 1.01, “The method for selecting the chief executive shall be specified in the light of the actual situation in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and in accordance with the principle of gradual and orderly progress.” This report has been carefully prepared so it cannot be said to reflect the “actual situation in Hong Kong”. Any variance from the city’s earlier report might suggest the Standing Committee’s August 31 decision was not soundly based.

It is very clear there is significant support in Hong Kong for meaningful universal suffrage. It is also true that although sympathetic to the end, a lot of people did not support the disruption caused by the occupation, a view which could usefully have been included in the report but was not. The report is an extraordinary exposure of the poverty of government thinking on these matters. We now wait with a sense of grotesque fascination as to how the next act in this farce plays out.

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