News / Asia

    Hong Kong Activists Prepare for Election Referendum

    Hong Kong Activists Prepare for Election Referendumi
    X
    Rebecca Valli
    June 19, 2014 1:27 PM
    The debate over election reform in Hong Kong is driving a wedge between Beijing and the vibrant port city, where pro-democracy activists are gearing up for an unofficial referendum this weekend. Activists say they are trying to persuade the city government to draft a democratic ballot law for elections in 2017 and 2020, and have pledged to occupy the city center if their demands go unheard. Rebecca Valli has more from Hong Kong for VOA.
    The debate over election reform in Hong Kong is driving a wedge between Beijing and the vibrant port city, where pro-democracy activists are gearing up for an unofficial referendum this weekend. Activists say they are trying to persuade the city government to draft a democratic ballot law for elections in 2017 and 2020, and have pledged to occupy the city center if their demands go unheard. 

    Occupy Central, the group behind this weekend's referendum, has been mobilizing supporters around Hong Kong by hosting a series of walks in all of the city's districts. They say the referendum is a way for people in Hong Kong to express their preference over elections, which Beijing has promised Hong Kong in 2017 and 2020.

    For months, the topic has engulfed the attention of Hong Kong politicians as well as public opinion, divided over the role Beijing should play in selecting candidates for top office.

    Beijing says a small committee will pick those who can run for office, a move some in Hong Kong see as a political interference.

    Earlier this week, the websites of Occupy Central and of a media group that has sided with the movement were hit with massive cyber-attacks.

    The origin of the hack was unconfirmed, but Occupy Central supporter Tracy Choi attributes it to mainland authorities.

    “The hacking. The whole purpose of that is to make sure that people don't come out, people get frightened. But in fact I think it's gone the opposite way, because people think, this is the last time, the last time we have to come out and to say something, to decide our future,” she said.

    In a white paper about Hong Kong issued this week, China stated that every autonomy Hong Kong enjoys depends on authorization given by Beijing.

    The wording inflamed many pro-democracy activists, who say Beijing intends to limit well-established freedoms guaranteed by the city's constitution, or Basic Law.

    “The white paper is not an official document that can override the basic law, Hong Kong's mini constitution.  We still believe that the basic law articles have allowed us all kinds of freedoms," said James Hon, a retired teacher and spokesman for the League in Defense of Hong Kong Freedom.

    At the time of the Sino-British agreement, when the two countries decided Hong Kong would go back to being part of China, Beijing promised the city a high degree of autonomy for 50 years in all matters other than defense and foreign policy.

    “One of the ideas then was that China would become more open, so that after 50 years there would not be that much difference between the economy and society in the mainland and in Hong Kong. But in fact, we see now that was a very optimistic idea,” said Teng Biao, a human rights lawyer and visiting scholar at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

    Frictions over electoral reform are bound to heat up again in July, when Occupy Central says it will occupy downtown Hong Kong should the government select an undemocratic ballot system.

    You May Like

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells state's Republican Convention delegates campaign will be 'battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Van NG from: Canada
    June 20, 2014 3:04 AM
    As a British colony for the past 100 years, people in Hongkong have never had democracy. Why UK did't allow Hongkong to realize democracy and used dictatorship to suppress Hongkong people for the past 100 years?

    Hongkong people may fear to protest UK under UK governance because UK police has guns. Shame on these Hongkong people. If they have fighted with UK for democracy from 1900-1997, they would be enjoying democracy right now without any interruptions.
    Why only fight with China instead of UK? This makes China look feeble, weak like a coward. When Japanese invaded Hongkong in WWII, no many Hongkong people have fighted with these Fascists because they knew these Japanese Fascists would kill them if they interrupt ruling of Japan over Hongkong at that time.
    In Response

    by: Morris from: New York, NY
    June 21, 2014 1:52 PM
    Hi Van NG,

    Before I start my rebuttal to your comment, let me first agree with you and state outright that the UK did not, for the majority of their time in HK, allow Hong Kong to become democratic. This is most unfortunate and is quite common for colonies of the UK. What I am disagreeing with you about is your reasoning behind HK people's protesting. If HK'ers really feared guns, then they wouldn't be protesting at all right now. After all, it was the PRC that decided to run down its own people in 6/4. And they did this not only with guns, but with tanks. Surely, if HK'ers feared guns, they would fear the bigger tanks too, no?

    Also, I suggest that you look up Christopher Patten's reforms. He was the last governor of Hong Kong and he did actually try to make the legislature in HK a democratic one.

    Finally, I suggest that you look up Sir Lindsay Ride, who led the BAAG during the Second World War. Some HK'ers did try to fight back and did contribute to the resistance effort.

    Best,

    Morris

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora