1. Beijing has made its final denial on “civil nomination” and “party nomination”. Would Occupy Central still be able to change this political reality?
Beijing officials and the Pro-Beijing camp have recently expressed their “gloomy outlook” on civil nomination in order to narrow the scope of discussion to the formation of the nominating committee and the nomination process, as an attempt to dissuade the public from supporting nomination methods Beijing cannot completely control. Although civil nomination is not the only method that meets international standards on universal suffrage, it does align with Basic Law’s objective on the matter, keep the HKSAR’s political system design (separation of administrative and legislative elections) intact, and has also proved to be effective at the District Council and the Legislative Council. As such OCLP believes the government should adopt an open-minded attitude towards civil nomination. If the government thinks civil nomination is in violation of the Basic Law, they must provide detailed explanation to the public and submit an alternative nomination proposal that will also ensure equal rights of standing for the election. If the government just brutally denies civil nomination, Occupy Central would still fight for the desired process according to public deliberations and the outcome of the civil referendum (whether or not it includes civil nomination).
2. OCLP emphasizes the political reform proposal must meet the international standards. What are these “International Standards”? Who defines them?
Article 39 of the Basic Law states that the “International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights” (“ICCPR”) as applied to Hong Kong shall remain in force. Article 25 of ICCPR sets out that elections shall be by universal and equal suffrage. Election rights should include the right to nominate, the right to be elected and the right to elect. The Covenant also states that the free expression of the will of the electors should be guaranteed. Therefore, to meet the international standards means not only one person one vote but also to ensure no unreasonable restrictions are set to deprive people of different genders, races, religions and political views of their rights to stand for election. A real universal suffrage must provide electors with real choices.
3. Why does the OCLP movement decide to use referendum instead of lobbying the pan-democractic legislators to do a “de facto referendum” by collective resignation?
The objective of holding a referendum is to foster a civil consensus which will serve to authorize the pan-democratic parties to negotiate with the government. Both electronic referendum and de facto referendum by collective resignation can serve this purpose. Electronic referendum is purely a non-government platform (run by the Public Opinion Programme, University of Hong Kong) which has absolute control over the topics and the timing. The disadvantages include the lack of resources, vulnerability to computer hacking, lower credibility, etc. On the other hand, de facto referendum enjoys better resources and credibility as it is held by the government. However, it has the disadvantages of limitation to a single topic, full control by the government on the timing of the by-election, the risk that the pan-democrats may lose the by-election, the pro-establishment camp may diverge the topic, etc. OCLP will take into account of all the above factors and work out the form of referendum with various political parties. None of these referendum methods will be ruled out.
4. With the government apparently going to produce a “pre-screening” proposal for Chief Executive nomination, why has OCLP not taken place yet after being planned for more than a year? When will OCLP actually happen?
The OCLP movement has kicked off already. The whole process includes deliberations, referendum and, finally, civil disobedience (occupy Central). These are either work in progress or undergoing rehearsal. For OCLP to be justified, occupying Central has to be the last resort. In order to get the Hong Kong citizens to understand the movement, we have to prove that all available channels have been fully utilized.
In the event that the central authorities ignore the requests of the Hong Kong people, we will take necessary action. As the timetable of the official electoral reforms becomes more definite, the timetable of OCLP is getting clearer too. Now that the pro-establishment camp is just spreading news and views, everyone is still standing on the sideline. Once the official proposal turns out to be a bad one, please get ready for action!
5. Will the “Occupy Central with Love and Peace” (“OCLP”) movement mess up Hong Kong?
Actually it is CY Leung who has messed up Hong Kong and OCLP just strives to restore the long-term stability of the society. It has been widely said that Hong Kong has become unfamiliar to us because the government is not following rules any more – the request by Tung Chee Hwa for the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress to reinterpret the Basic Law has hurt the final appeal status of the HKSAR; the entanglement of Donald Tsang with the rich and powerful; the way CY Leung handled free television licensing has disregarded the principles of fairness, openness and impartiality. The core issue is that a Chief Executive handpicked by the central authorities is not accountable to the people of Hong Kong. The central authorities has been highly involved, and even dominant, in HKSAR affairs in the last ten years. We thought Hong Kong people should be running Hong Kong with high degree of autonomy except in the areas of military and foreign affairs. In reality, however, the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the HKSAR has been actively intervening in the internal affairs, openly coordinating and lobbying in council elections at various levels, something which the CY Leung administration has taken for granted.
The OCLP movement strives for real universal suffrage and a government that is accountable to the people of Hong Kong, as well as safeguarding “One Country, Two Systems” and the core values of Hong Kong. OCLP aims to bring things back to order, rebuild the Hong Kong that we were familiar with, and enable our society to move on.
6. Why does the OCLP movement not give a clear support to the “civil nomination” proposal?
The OCLP deliberations allow in-depth discussions on various methods for electing the Chief Executive. A commonly accepted proposal will be voted via civil referendum in order to foster a strong consensus. The last Deliberation Day will be held on 6th May, followed by civil referendum on 22nd June, after which an electoral reform proposal for OCLP will be resulted. We expect all pan-democratic parties and civil organizations to strive their best for this proposal. If civil nomination is part of the proposal, OCLP will give its full and clear support. However, at this stage the OCLP initiators should maintain a neutral stance while respecting the deliberation and referendum processes.
7. Can Hong Kong “acclimatize” to the western democracy model?
Democratic election without pre-screening is a universal value that also fulfills the requirements of the Basic Law and has been proven effectual in many Asian countries such as Japan and Korea. In fact, universal suffrage has been introduced to District Council and Legislative Council elections for years and operated under civil nomination without any issues of acclimatization. Professor Larry Diamond at Stanford University, an authority on international democracy theory, pointed out that Hong Kong has long been ready for democracy given its economic developments and education level and therefore the so-called acclimatization problem is completely groundless.
8. If OCLP fails to bring to Hong Kong real universal suffrage, will the movement be considered a failure?
The specific target of OCLP is to press for real universal suffrage in 2017. But we also value coordinating active citizens from various sectors, non-government organizations and pan-democratic political parties for deliberations and cooperation in the course of the movement. Even if the fight for real universal suffrage in 2017 does not succeed, a strengthened civil society will be beneficial to the long-term monitoring of the government and safeguarding the core values of Hong Kong, which is also an important value of the movement.
9. Where have the funds raised by OCLP gone?
From March last year to February this year, OCLP has raised a total of $5.3 million, in which $2.32 million was spent on holding Deliberation Days 1 and 2, the New Year Civil Referendum and a number of street booths, etc. The remainder will be spent on hiring a venue for Deliberation Day 3 and voting, production of propaganda materials, setting up street booths and the civil referendum on 22 June, etc. As the funds will be exhausted before 1 July, the team will continue to actively raise money for various areas. At the final stage of the political reform, it is very likely that a second referendum should be launched to gauge if the citizens accept the Government’s proposal. Occupy Central must raise more than 3 million to cover the costs.
10. Should Occupy Central have to be resorted to, what are the concrete courses of action?
The occupying action means participants taking to the roads in Central to block the traffic. When the police come for their arrest, the first ring of participants, i.e. the hard-core members, will not clash with the policemen and will not hire any lawyer to defend themselves when in court. The second ring of participants will not resist arrest either, but they may hire a defense lawyer.
The third ring of participants simply support the first and the second rings in a lawful manner, e.g. silent standing by the road, presentation of bouquets, etc. The power of this third ring can be enormous. To some people the most significant power of the movement is to paralyze the financial hub, while some believe that it is to awaken the public to the awareness of social inequality through self-sacrifice.
As a matter of fact, only when the citizens value their right to universal suffrage will they not mind their right to use the roads being infringed. Only when they understand that our civil rights have long been “occupied” by a small group of people—resulting in the idling, conflicts and decline of society—will they understand that to occupy Central is to “counter the occupation”. Therefore, Occupy Central is a movement of both disobedience and awakening.