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Opinion | Dennis Kwok: Too simple, always naïve

By Philip Yeung, a university teacher


Recently, Dennis Kwok, an ex-Hong Kong legislator, now self-exiled in the US, wrote an article berating Beijing for suppressing freedom in the city.

Kwok is a lawyer by profession. But he seems to have little regard for the rules of logic and evidence.

He accused Beijing of reneging on its promise, under One Country Two Systems, that gives Hong Kong people a high degree of autonomy---a promise that is now gone with the wind.

The best argument against Kwok, ironically, came from Kwok himself. He was right to say: "The key to Hong Kong's success was never about democracy". And yet Kwok's party are fight-to-the-finish democracy warriors.

I don't understand his logic.

According to Kwok, under Beijing, "civil society has been completely dismantled, with the rule of law in tatters". But who started the dismantling process? Benny Tai, a law professor, for one, that's who. He triumphantly launched Occupy Central as its self-styled godfather. A second-rate copycat of "Occupy Wall Street" and the Color Revolution that has split Hong Kong into a two-color society, Tai is no original thinker.

What utopia did he promise us?

For a taste of democratic utopia, look no further than America, the land of the free. Its Capitol riots were inspired by Donald Trump, otherwise known as "America's Hitler", who wanted anti-government protestors shot on sight. Compared to brutal US cops, Hong Kong police are boy scouts.

Democracy's lifeblood is individualism, which taken to extremes, encroaches on the rights of others, as victims of Asian hate crimes will tell you.

Kwok admitted that, post-handover, Hong Kong enjoyed unfettered freedom for 17 years—actually 23 years until riots paralyzed the city. He didn't explain why Beijing granted the city full freedom for over two decades, or why it was abruptly ended, or who was to blame.

The gaps in Kwok's logic match his gaps in facts. Beijing did leave Hong Kong people alone to live their own lives. But the agitators did not leave Beijing alone, demanding the downfall of the Chinese Communist Party, publishing and peddling sensational, fact-free books about China's leaders. Then came petrol-bombs and university presidents cowering in fear from seemingly deranged protestors. For them, "One Country" did not exist. Two Systems dictated to One Country.

Not once did Kwok mention One Country. But he did quote Beijing's expression of "Well water not mixing with river water" for Two Systems. But Kwok and his ilk foolishly ignored the political separation. His articulated wishful thinking was that one day, economic liberalism would usher in political liberalism in China. His perception of the mainland was outdated by 40 years, unaware that economic success has made it ultra-rational and super-focused on modernization. China has technologically leapfrogged advanced economies including Hong Kong.

Across the bay in Zhuhai, people can live like kings on pauper's pay. A haircut is only 15 RMB (2.2 US dollar), bus fare one mere RMB (15 cents US.) In Britain, an old lady has to keep riding the bus to keep warm because she can't afford her heating bills. She eats one lonely meal a day. What good is democracy without quality of life?

Recently, Samsung faced a backlash for running an ad of a woman jogging at 2 am—a fate-tempting suicidal act. But you can jog safely in China in the dead of night.

Doesn't democracy also mean freedom from fear? Last year, over 45,000 Americans died of gun violence. Freedom by itself is overrated. What good is freedom if you are dead?

Another piece of the democracy puzzle is trust. A multi-year Harvard study shows 93% of Chinese people trust their government—versus 33% in Trump.

If democracy is not the key to Hong Kong's success, the pan-democrats' scorched-earth battle for "universal suffrage" is practically meaningless. Let me explain.

Hong Kong has business tycoons galore but is starved of political talents. Given the slim pickings, one-person-one-vote means voting for useless leaders like Donald Tsang who gifted the city to property developers and speculators. Beijing's only fault was in giving local leaders too long a leash. It got the blame for local incompetence that left social problems festering.

Kwok sneered at the suggestion that the unrest was "somehow instigated by foreign forces". The facts speak for themselves: the US Congress overtly allocated $10 million this year for promoting democracy in Hong Kong. Covertly, the US consulate in Hong Kong has over 1000 operatives, a headcount that speaks volumes about sinister American intentions.

Kwok dragged Taiwan in, without mentioning that America has cleverly discredited One Country Two Systems in Hong Kong to disrupt future reunification. Taiwan tensions are US-manufactured. So is Xinjiang "oppression" a pure American geopolitical fabrication.

The day of reckoning has arrived. This once notoriously apolitical city became a political cauldron. Gone was its harmony, pitting friend against friend, family against family—all for the mirage of universal suffrage. Gone too was rule of law. Everyone paid dearly for their folly. The fight has not ennobled us. It has degraded us, leaving us a polarized and hate-filled city.

Agitators became the tail that wagged our society. Their moral absolutes are a danger to civil society.

Quick to jump on America's anti-China bandwagon, Kwok has betrayed his roots by ignoring Chinese history.

Absurdly, he blasted Beijing for "ruling Hong Kong as its colony from afar". How could the city be China's colony when it was originally Chinese territory? This is a fool's frothy statement.

During British rule, a Chinese lawyer had the audacity to question colonial rule. He was disbarred and imprisoned. So much for Western human rights. It could have been Kwok, but for the grace of God.

Some years ago, a local female reporter rode the notoriety of a presidential scolding in Beijing into the gates of Oxford. Likewise, Kwok's "hero's halo" seems to have landed him a Senior Research Fellowship at Ash Center. Given his sloppy logic and muddled thinking, does he really belong in the hallowed halls of Harvard?

The views do not necessarily reflect those of DotDotNews.

Read more articles by Philip Yeung:

Opinion | An old nagging headache the new head of Hong Kong doesn't need

Opinion | Be a good neighbor: Can Australia U-turn on Anti-China Alliances?

Opinion | Who is qualified to be Hong Kong's next leader?

Opinion | The impossible country---Looking at China upside down


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