CommunityFDL Main Blog

Hong Kong Chief Executive Says Poor Will Get Too Much Power If Protesters Win

Points for honesty? Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying gave a rather blunt explanation for why the Occupy Central pro-democracy protesters could not succeed – it would give poor people in Hong Kong too much power. Chief Executive Leung disclosed his views in a press conference that included Western media.

Though Hong Kong is part of China and ultimately under the authority the Chinese Communist Party, Hong Kong has remained somewhat autonomous with a commercial oligarchy running the island for decades. From the Leung’s perspective, if the residents of Hong Kong were able to vote for their leaders the power of that oligarchy would be threatened. Therefore, Leung explained, he supported Beijing’s role in pre-selecting candidates for the upcoming 2017 election so the poor would, in essence, know their place. Beijing will undoubtedly work with Hong Kong’s elite to decide who should be able to run for office and who should not.

The Beijing-appointed leader of Hong Kong, Leung Chun-ying, said Monday evening that it was unacceptable to allow his successors to be chosen in open elections, in part because doing so would risk giving poorer residents a dominant voice in politics… In an interview with a small group of journalists from American and European news media organizations, his first with foreign media since the city erupted in demonstrations, he acknowledged that many of the protesters are angry over the lack of social mobility and affordable housing in the city. But he argued that containing populist pressures was an important reason for resisting the protesters’ demands for fully open elections.

Instead, he backed Beijing’s position that all candidates to succeed him as chief executive, the top post in the city, must be screened by a “broadly representative” nominating committee appointed by Beijing. That screening, he said, would insulate candidates from popular pressure to create a welfare state, and would allow the city government to follow more business-friendly policies to address economic inequality instead. Leung’s blunt remarks reflect a widely held view among the Hong Kong elite that the general public cannot be trusted to govern the city well.

Has no one told Chief Executive Leung about letting the elite bribe candidates for office as the US does? It truly is refreshing to see a political leader openly state the reasons why they oppose democracy – not the sentiment but the bluntness. This is why the economic elite oppose democracy everywhere, because they understand that power is finite and sharing it with the poor means less for them.

And promoting more “business-friendly policies” is unlikely to address economic inequality. Hong Kong has long been considered one of the most business friendly countries in the world. It was specifically cited by conservative economist Milton Friedman as a model for the rest of the world. Needless to say being pro-business has not led to the poor being empowered or more equal. If it had, there might not be an Occupy Central in the first place.

Given Chief Exeuctive Leung’s views it is not surprising that talks between pro-democracy protesters and the Hong Kong government fell apart. The protesters will continue to seek justice in the streets.

CommunityThe Bullpen

Hong Kong Chief Executive Says Poor Will Get Too Much Power If Protesters Win

Points for honesty? Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying gave a rather blunt explanation for why the Occupy Central pro-democracy protesters could not succeed – it would give poor people in Hong Kong too much power. Chief Executive Leung disclosed his views in a press conference that included Western media.

Though Hong Kong is part of China and ultimately under the authority the Chinese Communist Party, Hong Kong has remained somewhat autonomous with a commercial oligarchy running the island for decades. From the Leung’s perspective, if the residents of Hong Kong were able to vote for their leaders the power of that oligarchy would be threatened. Therefore, Leung explained, he supported Beijing’s role in pre-selecting candidates for the upcoming 2017 election so the poor would, in essence, know their place. Beijing will undoubtedly work with Hong Kong’s elite to decide who should be able to run for office and who should not.

The Beijing-appointed leader of Hong Kong, Leung Chun-ying, said Monday evening that it was unacceptable to allow his successors to be chosen in open elections, in part because doing so would risk giving poorer residents a dominant voice in politics… In an interview with a small group of journalists from American and European news media organizations, his first with foreign media since the city erupted in demonstrations, he acknowledged that many of the protesters are angry over the lack of social mobility and affordable housing in the city. But he argued that containing populist pressures was an important reason for resisting the protesters’ demands for fully open elections.

Instead, he backed Beijing’s position that all candidates to succeed him as chief executive, the top post in the city, must be screened by a “broadly representative” nominating committee appointed by Beijing. That screening, he said, would insulate candidates from popular pressure to create a welfare state, and would allow the city government to follow more business-friendly policies to address economic inequality instead. Leung’s blunt remarks reflect a widely held view among the Hong Kong elite that the general public cannot be trusted to govern the city well.

Has no one told Chief Executive Leung about letting the elite bribe candidates for office as the US does? It truly is refreshing to see a political leader openly state the reasons why they oppose democracy – not the sentiment but the bluntness. This is why the economic elite oppose democracy everywhere, because they understand that power is finite and sharing it with the poor means less for them.

And promoting more “business-friendly policies” is unlikely to address economic inequality. Hong Kong has long been considered one of the most business friendly countries in the world. It was specifically cited by conservative economist Milton Friedman as a model for the rest of the world. Needless to say being pro-business has not led to the poor being empowered or more equal. If it had, there might not be an Occupy Central in the first place.

Given Chief Exeuctive Leung’s views it is not surprising that talks between pro-democracy protesters and the Hong Kong government fell apart. The protesters will continue to seek justice in the streets.

Previous post

The Roundup

Next post

Hong Kong Chief Executive Says Poor Will Get Too Much Power If Protesters Win

Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Firedoglake.com. Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
Subscribe in a reader