Tue, Apr 03, 2007 - Page 4 News List

Analysis: Beijing pulls HK's strings

MIRAGE Beijing's appointment of Hong Kong's chief executive suggests the seemingly competitive election is a sham decorated with ideals and a dream of suffrage

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

One week after Beijing-backed Donald Tsang (曾蔭權) was re-elected as the chief executive of Hong Kong, decided by a 800-agent election committee ostensibly on behalf of 7 million Hong Kong citizens, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) yesterday signed an official order to appoint Tsang as the third-term chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region starting July 1.

But Beijing's appointment of Hong Kong's chief showed that the seemingly competitive election is a sham decorated with democratic ideals and the dream of universal suffrage -- a mirage for Hong Kong, political commentators said yesterday.

Last Sunday, Tsang comfortably beat pro-democracy lawmaker Alan Leong (梁家傑) by acquiring 649 votes in the election committee and won another five-year term governing Hong Kong. Leong only obtained 123 votes in the polling.

According to the 45th article of Hong Kong's Basic Law, the chief executive of Hong Kong needs to be appointed by the central government after the chief is produced via an election or negotiation.

Tsang, in a statement issued immediately after the appointment, expressed his thanks to Beijing, saying the opportunity to serve is "a great honor." He will attend a swearing-in ceremony in Beijing on April 8.

Electoral procedures throughout this campaign were purely cosmetic and all under Beijing's surveillance.

"Hong Kong's chief executive election was a sham election that was trapped under the frame of one country, two systems,'" said Jiann-fa Yan (顏建發), chairman of Research and Planning Committee of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who is also a specialist in cross-strait relations.

Yan said that a chief of a democratic country that is produced via a democratic election would not have to be "appointed" by another governmental organization, also saying that "one country, two systems" is a disguise for Beijing rule over Hong Kong.

"To restore Hong Hong's political system and make it consistent with Beijing's is the ultimate goal," he said.

Yan also said the people of Hong Kong have compromised with a Beijing government that gives China an economic advantage. he said that Hong Kongers are too guarded and unsympathetic when it comes to the issue of Taiwan's independence.

"Hong Kong is a society led by the middle class. This class wants social and economic stability but they also want democracy. They want everything, yet they are too afraid of changing the status quo," Yan said.

"But this overly pragmatic attitude prevents them from pursuing real democracy," he said.

Pan Hsi-tang (潘錫堂), professor of the Graduate Institute of China Studies of Tamkang University, said yesterday that Beijing's control over democratic development in Hong Kong will only get tighter as Beijing does its best to stifle any domino effect resulting from the democracy movement.

Securing Tsang's election is just another part of Beijing's plan to give the appearance of democractic reform to Western democratic countries such as the US and Britain.

"To appoint Tsang is just standard procedure for Beijing, for it must hide its growing power over Hong Kong," Pan said.

"Although Tsang kept promising universal suffrage to Hong Kong citizens, the direct vote for chief is a mirage in a democratic desert, and the realization of it will be in a very distant future," he said.

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