Meet the Young Leaders Shaking up Hong Kong Politics

Pedestrians walk past a banner for new party Youngspiration showing disqualified candidate Edward Leung (L) and Baggio Leung (C) during the Legislative Council election in Hong Kong on September 4, 2016. Young Hong Kong independence activists calling for a complete break from China stood in major elections for the first time on September 4, the biggest vote since 2014 pro-democracy rallies. / AFP / Anthony WALLACE (Photo credit should read ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images)

Beijing wants pro-democracy activists to go away. Instead, they’re getting elected.

Suzanne Sataline writes: In late 2014, Hong Kong protestors used umbrellas to shield themselves as police soaked them with pepper spray. Student leaders demanded elections free of intrusion from the Chinese central government, capturing headlines around the world, but their efforts failed. On Sept. 4, city residents pushed back again. Voters elected several of those young activists to the city’s legislature, a sharp rebuke to Beijing’s increasing encroachment on political life in the city.

“By the terms of its constitution, called the Basic Law, Hong Kong has autonomy, but with an asterisk. Individual residents cannot elect the city’s leader, nor try to change policies through referenda; they pick just half of their lawmakers. “

A record 2.2 million people queued to cast ballots — hundreds reportedly waited at one polling station past two o’clock in the morning — in the financial capital’s first city-wide election since protests two years earlier. Voters tossed several veteran moderates from the Legislative Council (LegCo), and replaced them with six activists who want to wrest Hong Kong from mainland China’s control. While the chamber’s majority still tilts toward Beijing — thanks mostly to voting rules that grant greater power to trade and industry groups — the new term will seat 30 lawmakers who favor democracy in the 70-member chamber. They will collectively pose a greater obstacle to the city’s unpopular chief executive, C.Y. Leung, a man widely considered too deferential to Beijing.

 29HONGKONG-master675

“This arrangement of 19 years — engineered by the British crown, enforced by mainland China after it took Hong Kong back — never sought, and was never given, resident approval. Hence the widespread, youth-driven protests two years ago, quickly dubbed the Umbrella Movement.”

By the terms of its constitution, called the Basic Law, Hong Kong has autonomy, but with an asterisk. Individual residents cannot elect the city’s leader, nor try to change policies through referenda; they pick just half of their lawmakers. This arrangement of 19 years — engineered by the British crown, enforced by mainland China after it took Hong Kong back — never sought, and was never given, resident approval. Hence the widespread, youth-driven protests two years ago, quickly dubbed the Umbrella Movement.

[Read the full story here, at Foreign Policy]

Since then, Beijing appears to be tightening its grip on the semi-autonomous city. Many residents were unsettled when five members of a local book publisher disappeared last year, and yet Hong Kong’s government seemed to do little to help. (One man later resurfaced, sharing details of how he’d been kidnapped by state security and held for months in mainland China; a colleague is still missing.) A sudden demotion and resignations at the city’s independent graft commission signaled that the lauded agency might not be so independent anymore. The central government’s chief lawyer in Hong Kong said in April that the government could deploy British colonial laws still on the books, such as those for treason and sedition, to prosecute independence activists. This summer, the city government’s Electoral Affairs Commission barred six candidates from the LegCo race, five of whom demand either independence, or a vote on the issue among Hong Kong residents. (The commission’s chairman is appointed by the city’s chief executive.)

Cheng Chung-tai speaks to supporters in Hong Kong elections

“Since then, Beijing appears to be tightening its grip on the semi-autonomous city. Many residents were unsettled when five members of a local book publisher disappeared last year, and yet Hong Kong’s government seemed to do little to help.”

But that didn’t stop the election of young upstarts who aim to amend the constitution, expand voting rights, and bolster civil liberties. Sixtus “Baggio” Leung of a new party called Youngspiration thinks Hong Kong should declare independence from China. (None of the Leungs mentioned in this article are related.) Nathan Law, at age 23 the youngest lawmaker in city history, believes residents deserve a vote for self-determination. Beijing officials “are scared of our influence because we are not controllable,” Law, a leader in the 2014 protests, said. “We can mobilize people and arouse people and create enough tension between Hong Kong and China.”

“A sudden demotion and resignations at the city’s independent graft commission signaled that the lauded agency might not be so independent anymore. The central government’s chief lawyer in Hong Kong said in April that the government could deploy British colonial laws still on the books, such as those for treason and sedition, to prosecute independence activists.”

Some of those activists have been preaching on radio and street corners that Hong Kong is historically and culturally separate from China. The city, they have said, cannot trust China, and city residents should decide their own fate. By July, according to one survey, more than 17 percent of residents, and nearly 40 percent of those aged 15 to 24, said the city should separate from China when the “one-country, two-systems” plan ends in 2047. In August, the banned candidates organized what they called the city’s first independence rally, drawing several thousand people. One of the organizers was Edward Tin-kei Leung, a 25-year-old philosophy student born on the mainland. Read the rest of this entry »


FEEL THE DECAY: As Venezuela Craters, Appeal of Socialism Remains

bernie-mao

It is safe to predict that more countries will refuse to learn from history and give socialism a go.

Marian Tupy writes: Three years ago, a well-known American leftist, David Sirota, wrote the following in a Salon essay titled Hugo Chavez’s economic miracle,

Chavez became the bugaboo of American politics because his full-throated advocacy of socialism and redistributionism at once represented a fundamental critique of neoliberal economics, and also delivered some indisputably positive results… When a country goes socialist and it craters, it is laughed off as a harmless and forgettable cautionary tale about the perils of command economics. When, by contrast, a country goes socialist and its economy does what Venezuela’s did, it is not perceived to be a laughing matter – and it is not so easy to write off or to ignore.

salon-trimmed

Last Sunday, Nicholas Casey of The New York Times reported in an article Dying Infants and No Medicine: Inside Venezuela’s Failing Hospitals,

By morning, three newborns were already dead. The day had begun with the usual hazards: chronic shortages of antibiotics, intravenous solutions, even food. Then a blackout swept over the city, shutting down the respirators in the maternity ward. Doctors kept ailing infants alive by pumping air into their lungs by hand for hours. By nightfall, four more newborns had died… The economic crisis in this country has exploded into a public health emergency, claiming the lives of untold numbers of Venezuelans.

nyt-socialism-dying-infants

I start with these rather long quotations with a heavy heart. Contrary to Sirota’s glib prediction, I do not intend to laugh off as “harmless and forgettable” Venezuela’s “cautionary tale about the perils of command economics.” I do not find dying children laughable. But then, I did not laugh when I read about starving Ukrainians eating their children during Stalin’s Holodomor.

BERNIE-STALIN

I did not laugh when I read of Khmer Rouge soldiers shooting infants off their bayonets in communist Cambodia. And I certainly did not laugh when I saw with my own two eyes children reduced to starvation by the Marxist dictator of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe. In fact, there is nothing laughable about the almost incomprehensible degree of suffering that socialism has heaped upon humanity wherever it’s been tried. Read the rest of this entry »


Why It Took So Long for the World to See How Phnom Penh Fell

Featured Image -- 68998


Witness Describes Khmer Rouge’s Gruesome Torture During Genocide Trial

Cambodian and international journalists watch a live video feed showing former Khmer Rouge leader head of state Khieu Samphan (C) during a hearing for his trial at the Extraordinary Chamber in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) in Phnom Penh on January 8, 2015. Cambodia's UN-backed court on January 8, resumed the genocide trial of two ex-Khmer Rouge leaders over the mass murder of Vietnamese people and ethnic Muslims, forced marriage and rape in late 1970s.     AFP PHOTO / TANG CHHIN SOTHY        (Photo credit should read TANG CHHIN SOTHY/AFP/Getty Images)

Cambodian and international journalists watch a live video feed showing former Khmer Rouge leader head of state Khieu Samphan (C) during a hearing for his trial at the Extraordinary Chamber in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) in Phnom Penh on January 8, 2015. Cambodia’s UN-backed court on January 8, resumed the genocide trial of two ex-Khmer Rouge leaders over the mass murder of Vietnamese people and ethnic Muslims, forced marriage and rape in late 1970s. AFP PHOTO / TANG CHHIN SOTHY/AFP/Getty Images)


TRIBUNAL: Genocidal Khmer Rouge Defendant Denies Charges of Genocide

khmer_rouge_11

(PHNOM PENH, Cambodia) — reports:  Former Khmer Rouge leader Nuon Chea denied all charges against him Thursday on the last day of a trial for the surviving leaders of the 1970s Cambodian regime widely blamed for the deaths of some 1.7 million people.

The ailing 87-year-old Nuon Chea, the Khmer Rouge’s chief ideologist and No. 2 leader, and 82-year-old Khieu Samphan, its head of state, are charged by the Khmer Rouge tribunal with genocide and crimes against humanity. The charges include torture, enslavement and murder for their roles in the radical communist regime nearly 40 years ago.

Hundreds of survivors and onlookers crowded the courtroom and the tribunal’s grounds to hear the two aged defendants speak. Khieu Samphan is expected to make his statement later Thursday. A verdict is expected in the first half of 2014, more than two years after the trial began. Read the rest of this entry »


REPORT: Bomb at Cambodian Parliament

An explosive device has been detonated outside Cambodia’s National Assembly building, according to reports.

The Phnom Penh Post said three M79 rockets have also been found at Wat Phnom, the tallest temple in the capital city.

The report came from the newspaper’s Twitter account. Further details are yet to emerge.

Bangkok Post : report


Democrats Sign Petition to Support Karl Marx to succeed Obama in 2016 Presidential Campaign

Obama supporters sign a fake petition supporting Karl Marx for President in 2016 as the candidate for the Democrat Party after being told “Obama Has Endorsed Him.”

 Living in Phnom Penh