A Hong Kong Media Mogul and His Protest Tent
“The momentum of this movement is tremendous. People just won’t go away if there’s no solution from the government.”
“I just feel that it’s my responsibility to be part of it,” said the media mogul on Wednesday in his blue tent, where he has gone every day since the start of pro-democracy protests that are now in their fourth week.
Mr. Lai, the founder of Next Media Ltd., which owns publications in Hong Kong and Taiwan including the pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily, said he believed the protesters will stay on in the streets.
“I was born in China and spent my childhood in China seeing how life was like under the authoritarian Chinese regime…This was like heaven, the other side like hell.”
— Jimmy Lai
“The momentum of this movement is tremendous,” he said. “People just won’t go away if there’s no solution from the government.”
Mr. Lai said he is prepared to stay at the tent, which he shares with some pro-democracy politicians and volunteers, for a long time. Unlike some students who sleep at the protest sites, Mr. Lai only spends time in the tent during the day and goes back home for work and sleep. Read the rest of this entry »
— Alex Ogle (@Alex_Ogle) October 11, 2014
Amid Few Leader Directives a Mood of Resignation
HONG KONG—An absence of clear directives from organizers threw pro-democracy protests into confusion as some demonstrators called a retreat from two stronghold protest areas on Sunday evening.
“We are not afraid of the government and we are not afraid of the police. We just don’t want to see any more violent acts against residents.”
Many protesters ignored the call to decamp to the city’s main protest site near government offices, which came as the clock ticked closer to a government ultimatum to clear the streets.
But the division in the ranks appeared to drain strength from the crowds.
“They don’t represent me. It’s my own decision to come here to demonstrate and I’ll stay until the government answers our calls.”
— A 22-year-old university graduate, who identified himself only as Tin
In Mong Kok, a working-class neighborhood, police appeared to control the barricades leading to a crucial intersection where protesters had set up camp and where some of them seemed ready to make a last stand. One speaker said, “Tonight we’re outnumbered. We’re going to lose.”
“Frankly, I haven’t been able to sleep well… I’m worried that we will be on the verge of more serious incidents if this continues.”
— Hong Kong Financial Secretary John Tsang
Protesters holding microphones and speaking to crowds and television reporters in Mong Kok and in the shopping district of Causeway Bay tried to get crowds to leave and join protests at the Admiralty government offices, the epicenter in the 10-day wave of protests. Read the rest of this entry »
Pro-Democracy Activists Demand Right to Nominate Candidates for Chief Executive
HONG KONG — WSJ‘s Chester Yung reports: China’s top legislative body in Beijing is expected to announce a decision Aug. 31 on the issue of how Hong Kong’s leader is elected, according to people familiar with the matter.
[Also see – Pundit Planet welcomes new Deputy Bureau Chief & Asia Photo Editor-At-Large, Hong Kong Fong’s Deb Fong]
Beijing has said elections for the city’s leader will begin in 2017, but at issue is whether Beijing will let Hong Kong residents directly nominate candidates for the chief executive post or whether only pre-approved candidates will be allowed to run.
The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, China’s top legislative body, will convene Aug. 25-31 in Beijing, and will discuss proposed reforms for electing Hong Kong’s top leader.
“Occupy Central, a pro-democratic activist group, has threatened to mobilize 10,000 protesters in mass civil disobedience if Beijing takes a hard line on the city’s election reforms.”
Two people familiar with the matter said a news conference would be held in Beijing on Aug. 31 to announce the results of the meeting. They said another news conference would be held in Hong Kong.
[From our July 1 2014 Edition: Hong Kong’s Occupy Central ‘Referendum’ Explained]
[Exclusive report – Underneath the “Hong Kong Miracle”]
So far, rhetoric from officials in both Beijing and Hong Kong suggests that Beijing will reject outright activists’ demands that the public be allowed to directly nominate candidates for chief executive. Read the rest of this entry »
EXCLUSIVE: A few days ago, The Butcher posted a link to a good article about the origins of “the Hong Kong Miracle” – a term that is justifiably used to describe Hong Kong as a near “capitalist paradise” of very limited government intervention into all aspects of the lives of its citizens, very low apparent taxation and nearly wide-open individualism and personal opportunity. I’ve seen pieces like this before and hopefully, people will be writing them in the future (and not discussions about how China “killed the goose that laid the golden eggs”).
“As part of my study, I’ve come to realize that there is a somewhat hidden key to the magic of Hong Kong’s economic, social and political success story.”
As an on-again, off-again resident of Hong Kong (“on” right now and for the next few months), I’m an avid reader of Chinese history in general, and Hong Kong history in particular. Last year I began the grueling process of becoming admitted as a lawyer (solicitor) in Hong Kong, taking the very difficult test administered to foreign lawyers from other Anglosphere jurisdictions as a gateway to that honor. (I’m nearing the end of that long journey now – in two weeks I’ll be in court here for my formal admission before a Chinese judge wearing the white wig and crimson robes that English judges have been wearing for over three hundred years, a wonderfully rich experience of the cultural melting pot that is Hong Kong.)
“And it behooves people who support the political philosophy (free-market capitalism and political liberty) underlying Hong Kong’s wonderfully free and open society to be aware of this key.”
As part of my study, I’ve come to realize that there is a somewhat hidden key to the magic of Hong Kong’s economic, social and political success story. And it behooves people who support the political philosophy (free-market capitalism and political liberty) underlying Hong Kong’s wonderfully free and open society to be aware of this key. Because, while I am as libertarian as they come, there IS a functioning government here that provides essential public goods. The seven million people who live and work here depend on the fantastically well-built and well-maintained physical and social infrastructure: Massive public works (like the great new airport – no one misses the dangerous approach to good old Kai Tak, huge bridges and tunnels), a clean, efficient mass-transit system, pretty darned good public schools, a semi-public health-care system, adequate police and an amazingly open and un-corrupted legal system.
[Also see: The Man Behind the Hong Kong Miracle]
The mystery comes from looking at all of these great elements of the public sphere in Hong Kong, and comparing it with the tax regime. The highest marginal income tax rate here is 18% (only the very highest earners pay this, and most of them figure out a way to avoid the highest rate), there is no capital gains tax, and there are very few other explicit taxes of any kind. Although most government services have associated user fees in the form of some kind of “stamp duty” (an Anglicism Americans understand as a tax), these stamp duties are fairly low – and would come nowhere near raising enough revenue to support the public sector. Likewise, while there are fees for riding on the MTR (the integrated mass transit system that includes subways, above-ground trains, buses, trolleys and ferries) and some tolls (for instance on the main tunnel linking Hong Kong Island with Kowloon and the mainland side), these charges again can’t raise enough revenue to support their overall function, much less the massive improvements in Hong Kong’s physical infrastructure I’ve personally seen in the 35 years since I first came here. Read the rest of this entry »
Hong Kong: For CNN, Wilfred Chan and Euan McKirdy report: Nearly 800,000 Hong Kongers have done something China’s 1.3 billion people can only dream of: cast a ballot to demand a democratic government.
In an unofficial referendum organized by pro-democracy activists and denounced by Chinese authorities, 787,767 people in the city of more than seven million have called for the right to directly elect their next leader.
But Beijing has insisted Hong Kong politics stays in line with Chinese rule, paving the way for a showdown in the city.
Who are the activists?
Occupy Central is a pro-democracy group founded in 2013. Their goal is to allow the Hong Kong public to elect its next leader without strings attached.
If the Hong Kong government doesn’t eventually give the public more voting rights, Occupy Central has threatened to “occupy” Central district, the city’s financial hub, with a sit-in that would disrupt businesses and block traffic.
How is Hong Kong governed now?
Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, with its own executive, legislature, and judiciary.
A former British colony, the city was returned to Chinese control in 1997. But before the handover, China and the United Kingdom signed an agreement giving Hong Kong a “high degree of autonomy” for 50 years after its return to China. This enshrined a principle known as “one country, two systems” in a constitutional document called the Basic Law. Read the rest of this entry »