The state of this Lennon Wall is a pretty good reflection
of the contemporary state of democratic hopes in Hong Kong
to make sure that we are registered to vote, etc.?
Last night, three "yellow" friends and I dined at a restaurant that's part of the Yellow Economic Circle. In places like it, we feel more relaxed and freely share our views and concerns. Yet we barely touched upon the big news of the day: Beijing's radical overhaul and neutering of Hong Kong's electoral system.
It's not like we're not interested in politics. I'm talking of people who have been on countless protest marches (including the 2 million plus one extradition bill march of June 16th, 2019) and also attended a good number of protest rallies (like that which sought to show solidarity with the Uyghurs back in December of that same year). And, of course, have cast votes in a number of election held here in Hong Kong (like the historic district council elections of November 24th, 2019).
But, for someone like me, it all was a done deal back on March 11th when China's rubberstamp congress endorsed this action. So no tears were shed yesterday by me and many others. And lawyer Kevin Yam was moved to Tweet -- somewhat cynically but also somewhat truthfully -- that: "#HongKong moved a big step forward today -- its residents stopped bothering to analyse whether the electoral whatever-one-might-call-it announced today conforms with local or national legal or constitutional requirements. Lots of brain cells and arteries saved as a result."
This being said, two of my "go to" Hong Kong bloggers did give their take on this electoral downgrade by the government. So for those interested in getting educated views on the matter, check out the Big Lychee, Various Sectors' blog post from earlier today and The Fragrant Harbour's from yesterday. And if you really want to knock yourself out by perusing the details of the overhaul, head over to the Hong Kong Free Press website for this Explainer on how Beijing cracked down on Hong Kong's elections. (In addition, for good measure, click here to get details of Beijing's concurrent amendments to Annex I and II of Hong Kong’s Basic law aimed at (further) restricting the city’s democracy.)
Honestly, for me, it's enough to know that a special national security unit within the Hong Kong police force will be screening potential candidates in future Hong Kong elections and the Hong Kong police’s national security department will take “necessary action” over any breaches of the security law that it uncovers over the course of their doing so. In short: "Asia's World City" has become a police state. And, at the risk of stating the bloody obvious, "Beijing’s overhaul of Hong Kong’s electoral system will make people far less interested in participating in elections, as they will doubt whether their votes still matter."
P.S. Two years ago today, the first extradition bill protest march took place. It attracted 12,000 participants and the Hong Kong Free Press ran an "In Pictures" piece on it. Do go take a look and find many faces of people now behind bars (e.g., Joshua Wong, Jimmy Lai, Ray Chan, Claudia Mo and Jimmy Sham) -- in many cases, even though no official verdict has been delivered with regards to the charges levelled against them -- or now in exile (e.g., bookseller Lam Wing-kee).
What a difference two years makes. And, for sure, there are people who will blame those who sought genuine universal suffrage as well as demanded no China extradition for Hong Kong's current state of affairs. To which I think a commenter on the Big Lychee, Various Sectors' blog gave a good response: Namely that, it would have been a death by a thousand cuts rather than the beheading we are witnessing, for "One Country, Two Systems" was always an affront to the Chinese Communist Party.