Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Taiwanese, Hong Kongers angry: panelists

Minority parties in Taiwan and Hong Kong face the remnants of a Leninist past and increasingly powerful conglomerates and vested interests, which bodes ill for democracy and good governance

Amid a growing sense of disenfranchisement, young people in Taiwan and Hong Kong are increasingly angry and want their governments to pay more attention to them, two panelists told a conference on democracy building in Taipei yesterday.

Speaking during a panel on majority and minority rights in government at the “Democracy Building in Interesting Times” conference organized by the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy, the Heritage Foundation and Institute for National Policy Research, Alan Leong (梁家傑), a pro-democracy activist and one-time contender for the post of Hong Kong chief executive, said that while about 60 percent of people in Hong Kong support full democracy, its advocates remain the minority in the Legislative Council.

“Functional constituencies” representing the interests of conglomerates, big business and other small groups, as well as interference by Beijing, ensure that these legislators are forever in the opposition, said Leong, leader of the Civic Party.

That system, he said, gives those “vested powers” de facto veto powers and ensures that the “fruits of economic success” are not shared evenly and remain in the hands of the few.

Leong also said that in light of the proposed electoral models for the elections of chief executive and the Legislative Council in 2017 and 2020 respectively, “there is practically no way that Hong Kong can see universal and equal suffrage” applied during the vote.

Speaking of the deficiencies in the system, Leong said: “It is indeed a coincidence that the Hong Kong people comes to expect so much from the opposition parties in a system where the opposition is supposed to be irrelevant and ineffective.”

“This is not what the designer of our political system had in mind,” he said.

My article, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here

The end of this article stemmed from a question — admittedly a loaded one — that I asked Mr. Leong, in that I prompted him to talk about identity. Unexpectedly, this engendered a response that included the contention that Taiwan is part of China, which to me confirmed yet again that even democracy activists in China and Hong Kong cannot necessarily be counted on to be supporters of Taiwan independence. Experiences can be shared, the desire for democracy can be common, but self-determination and the rights of minority, as Chinese academic Wang Lixiong (王力雄) has argued, are not necessarily matters such individuals are willing to support.


Chinese man said...

If you're not a Chinese, you will never understand why most Chinese don't support Taiwan's independence. Or maybe you do understand, but just want to push your agenda. How can you forget the 65 years of PRCs struggle for Taiwan? Even if PRC is democratic, most people won't support Taiwan's independence. That's the Chinese mind and you will never understand it. Chinese see history as 5000 years, not what happened in the last 100 years. Try to get that in your head and you'll understand Chinese better.

J. Michael Cole 寇謐將 said...

Hi Chinese Man. First of all, please let me state that I had no agenda in this; why would a Canadian pretend to be in a position to dictate to Taiwanese and Chinese how they should run their lives. That being said, this does not mean I cannot observe what goes on around me and listen to what people are saying — hence the value in living here in Taiwan rather than, say, in the ivory tower of academia back home. Also, the concept of non-Asians being unable to understand the Asian mind is an old, tired argument that does not stand scrutiny. I would never say, for example, that, say, a Chinese living in Montreal cannot understand Quebec separatism because he's not Canadian. Please give some of us Westerners who really seek to understand the culture and the conflict some credit. Finally, look at the latest polls in Taiwan published this week, and identification as Taiwanese is at its highest level ever, as is the desire for indepenence. I'm not making this stuff up — and this comes from university and government-sponsored polls.

mike said...

Chinese Man - I'll see your 5000 years and raise you an Enlightenment. Get that through your head and perhaps you'll understand the West better.

Jade said...

Chinese Man, I must say as a Taiwanese, I don't understand Chinese either. You see when a frog lives in a well, all he sees is a little piece of sky. I suggest you travel around the world and keep you mind away from contaminated by your great leaders that tell you that China is going the greatest world power. If that indeed happens one day, I can tell you that most Taiwanese will no be interested in being part of your country. So sit back and enjoy your dream.

Anonymous said...

Dear Chinese man,

Why do you care? Assuming you live in China, whether Taiwan is independent or not will have precisely ZERO effect on your life.

I believe "most Chinese don't support Taiwan's independence" because their government has systematically stripped them of the ability to think for themselves. I don't call that understanding 5000 years of history. I call it brainwashing.