Raymond W. Yin

An open letter to HK protesters

Pro-democracy protesters rest on a highway next to the central government offices in Hong Kong on Oct 6, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Pro-democracy protesters rest on a highway next to the central government offices in Hong Kong on Oct 6, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

Comparisons between the protests in Hong Kong and Tiananmen Square are unfounded. Meanwhile, solutions are possible if pan-democrats and pro-Beijing leaders can seek a compromise.

As a senior overseas Chinese who has lived in the United States for almost 50 years, I have really not needed to worry about the future of Hong Kong.

That is until the recent dramatic and unexpected developments there. Because my loved ones and seven million of my compatriots live in the city, I cannot stand by and watch them led astray into a political cul-de-sac by a few people with questionable intentions, maybe even ulterior motives, without saying something.

Though my words may not be welcome, I must still speak the truth or I will not be at peace with my conscience.

Among you, the three initiators of the so-called "Occupy Central" movement, two are university professors and one a religious figure. Under normal circumstance, you all should enjoy respect as scholars. But apparently you are not familiar with prevailing world circumstances, nor do you understand history. You self-righteously proclaim that you represent the people while encouraging idealistic but naive youth to break the law in order to pursue unrealistic political objectives. If this is not prompted by some kind of ulterior motives, then your ignorance causes me to sigh with despair.

Please answer me these questions:

  • In the British colonial days, did you elect the governors?
  • Has the universal suffrage reform framework, passed by the National People's Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC), violated the Basic Law? You say it is not in line with "international standards" but define "international standards". Please also explain which country's electoral mechanism measures up to the so-called "international standards".
  • Professor Chan Kin Man, you have repeatedly said the refusal of the NPCSC to accept your political reform proposals is humiliating to you personally. What if the central government were to say that you have humiliated them with your remarks instead? What would you say?
  • The development of democracy is a gradual process. It cannot be rushed nor can it be implemented in haste. Otherwise, serious problems would arise. The central government says it wants to ensure only a patriotic person can become Chief Executive of Hong Kong. What is wrong with that? Would you rather a turncoat be elected to the post? It is simply part of the selection process under an, as yet, imperfect reform framework, but it is a good start. We will be able to improve it as we gain more experience with its implementation. But if you rush the process, you are likely to mess up things, and we will all suffer. Can you afford to bear this responsibility?
  • The three of you who initiated Occupy Central are academics and a member of the clergy. Your responsibility is to nurture talent, not to take it onto the streets in defiance of the law at the risk of ruining the future of your charges. Don't be presumptuous about the absolute integrity of your position. Bear in mind that there is that silent majority who might not share your views. I would counsel you to read more history and learn from the mistakes of mankind's past. You may then gain an awareness of the dangers of unpredictability and not seeing the wood for the trees. Most of all, you must avoid violence. Don't be besotted with apparent Western superiority and practice. Always think twice before you act.

Tell me, if Beijing were to accept your demands for "one person, one vote" in Hong Kong, and the people on the mainland also were to follow suit in electing the president of the country, where do you think it would lead us in the current situation? If Hong Kong and the nation are in chaos, you can emigrate abroad to become slaves of a foreign master. But what can the other Hong Kongers and mainlanders do?

When the United States sent troops overseas with the intention of "saving" Iran, Libya, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, the reasons were that in those countries the rulers were despotic and their peoples had no freedom. But look at the consequences now.

The rulers were either killed, jailed or ran away, but are their peoples freer now? Do they have a better life?

  • Ms Anson Chan Fang On-sang and Mr Martin Lee Chu Ming went to Britain to seek support. Do you think that it is right? Mr Chris Patten says the NPCSC passed a fake election framework. Please ask him this question for me: Was he elected to his previous role as governor of Hong Kong by the Hong Kong people?
  • Deng Xiaoping made a commitment to maintain the status quo of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) for 50 years. Has that been changed?

Later, this commitment became the Basic Law and Hong Kong received full support from the mainland. Consequently, the SAR overcame many difficulties, leading to today's prosperity and stability. You should cherish the recent gains.

Where on earth can we find a perfect universe? There is no perfect system. And there is no need to insist on everything now. It is better to take the long-term view, hoping for the prosperity of the motherland and improving the quality of people's lives. Peace and democracy will bear fruit, and Hong Kong and mainland citizens will be better for it. We must have patience.

I have studied and worked in the US and Canada for nearly 50 years. I understand that Western democracy is no panacea. For success, it requires an upgrade in the quality of the people. According to the prevailing view, democracy is a blessing in Europe and the US (though not perfect) but a poison in Taiwan, and a disaster in the Arabic world. I predict it would create chaos in China and cause the people to suffer. Do you not understand this obvious truth?

CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK