In political activism, good things come in small packages

Jason Y Ng | 20 August 2014 | South China Morning Post

They used to live in the same residential complex, attend the same school and ride the same bus every morning. They both grew up in devout Christian families and were taught to take an interest in society.

But 17-year-old Joshua Wong Chi-fung and 20-year-old Ma Wan-ki – better known as Ma Jai – can’t be more different from each other. Joshua is a household name and his spectacled face has appeared on every magazine cover. He is self-assured, media savvy and can slice you up with his words. Ma Jai? Not so much. He gets tongue-tied behind the microphone and fidgety in front of the camera. He is a foot soldier who gets up at the crack of dawn to set up street booths and spends all day handing out flyers for someone else’s election campaign.

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Anson Chan, former ‘Iron Lady’ of Hong Kong, now fights for democratic rights

William Wan | 5 August 2014 | Washington Post | Reposted in the Guardian Weekly

She is often called the “Iron Lady” of Hong Kong. Anson Chan earned respect serving as Hong Kong’s second-highest official when the British were in charge. And when the colony was handed back to China in 1997, Beijing enlisted Chan to help with that transition.

“I never in my wildest dream predicted 17 years after the handover that Hong Kong would be in this state. Nor did I foresee – and this is particularly disappointing – that all three parties to the joint declaration and the Basic Law [Hong Kong’s equivalent of a constitution] – Beijing, Britain, Hong Kong’s government – would all choose to walk away from their promises to the people of Hong Kong.”

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AI: HK mass arrests send ‘disturbing signal for future protests’

2 July 2014 | Deutsche Welle

Hong Kong police arrested over 500 protesters who staged a sit-in after a pro-democracy rally, described as the city’s largest in years. In a DW interview, AI’s Mabel Au slams the police action as hasty and unnecessary.

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Q. and A.: Michael Tien on Why He Thinks Occupy Central Is a Mistake

Michael Forsythe | 24 June 2014 | New York Times

Hong Kong democracy activists and many “pan-democratic” lawmakers are pushing for new rules for the 2017 election for the territory’s leader, the chief executive, under which any candidate who collects a certain number of signatures can get on the ballot. In the face of opposition from the central government in Beijing, they’re putting their support to the test this month, conducting an informal referendum to gauge public support. So far more than 730,000 votes have been cast in the 10-day poll, and its organizers have vowed to occupy Hong Kong’s central business district in protest if Beijing insists on an electoral system that limits the ballot to its approved candidates.

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The New York Times: Michael C. Davis on the Battle Over Hong Kong’s Future

Chris Buckley | 19 June 2014 | The New York Times

Hong Kong is undergoing deepening tensions over its political future as a self-governed territory under Chinese sovereignty. Democratic activists have demanded that residents win the right to elect Hong Kong’s top leader, called the chief executive, without procedures that would ensure that only candidates approved by Beijing appear on the ballot. Many of the activists have endorsed Occupy Central with Love and Peace, a movement whose members have said they will stage civil disobedience protests in the city’s financial heart if electoral reform plans proposed by the Hong Kong government and Beijing, possibly later this year, do not meet their criteria for universal suffrage.

In an interview, Michael C. Davis, a professor of law at the University of Hong Kong, explained what is at stake.

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Q. and A.: Michael C. Davis on the Battle Over Hong Kong’s Future

Chris Buckley | 19 June 2014 | New York Times

Hong Kong is undergoing deepening tensions over its political future as a self-governed territory under Chinese sovereignty. Democratic activists have demanded that residents win the right to elect Hong Kong’s top leader, called the chief executive, without procedures that would ensure that only candidates approved by Beijing appear on the ballot. Many of the activists have endorsed Occupy Central with Love and Peace, a movement whose members have said they will stage civil disobedience protests in the city’s financial heart if electoral reform plans proposed by the Hong Kong government and Beijing, possibly later this year, do not meet their criteria for universal suffrage.

Starting Friday, Occupy Central will hold an unofficial referendum giving residents a choice of rival plans for voting procedures, and it plans later to support a similar vote pitting the winning proposal against the government’s proposal. Meanwhile, the Chinese Communist Party has been attempting to consolidate its influence over Hong Kong and is worried about the ferment of opposition, as are pro-establishment politicians and business groups in the city. In an interview, Michael C. Davis, a professor of law at the University of Hong Kong, explained what is at stake:

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The Pulse: Occupy Central Narrows the Field; District Councils “Promote” Constitutional Reform

21 May 2014 | RTHK

1. Benny Tai and Michael Davis discuss results of the Constitutional Reform Deliberation Day.

2. In societies that get to fully elect their government there’s always a bit of a conundrum when the government spends public money to convince the public of a viewpoint it might not share. It gets even more confusing when this activity occurs in the process of a consultation supposedly to assess public views. Hong Kong’s government allocated a total of HKS4.5 million in public money to district councils to promote the idea that proposals for electoral reform should follow the Basic Law, but do the public’s representatives have a right to help determine how that money was spent?