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LegCo Election Scrapped for Beijing's Total Control;Tian'anmen Rally Banned, HK Overhauled


This is translated from CitizenNews' weekly digest tracking Hong Kong's political news over the past week. (一周政情:廢立會選舉 中央專權 禁六四集會 改造香港

As we enter the last week of May, there are a few head-turning stories in the political arena, and all of them have to do with Beijing tightening its control over Hong Kong and speeding up the transformation of the city. Firstly, the Legislative Council, which has ousted the pan-democrats, has accepted Beijing's political reform package in its entirety, and quickly passed a bill to drastically change Hong Kong's electoral system, bringing an official end to the development of representative government during the transitional period so far.

Secondly, a number of pioneering pan-democratic leaders such as Albert Ho and Yeung Sum were sentenced to over a year's imprisonment for organising an unauthorised march on 1 October 2019. The result is the official end of the moderate pan-democratic political voice advocating communication with Beijing.

Thirdly, the Tian'anmen memorial vigil, which has been held for 30 years, has been banned again, depriving Hong Kong of the freedom to commemorate the massacre in public.

Not even a year since the promulgation of the National Security Law (NSL), the political ecology of Hong Kong has already undergone a radical change. The free election system, which has been in place for over 30 years, has been abandoned and replaced by a screening arrangement with strict political qualifications.

Pro-China lawmakers raise hands of support during the second meeting of the "Improving Electoral System (Consolidated Amendments) Bill 2021" at the Legislative Council in Hong Kong Thursday, May 27, 2021. Hong Kong's legislature passed a bill amending electoral laws that drastically reduces the public's ability to vote and increases the number of pro-Beijing lawmakers making decisions for the city. AP Photo
 

Beijing can easily screen out candidates who do not listen to it and do not show their full allegiance. The pan-democrats' room to stand for election has been reduced to a mere window-dressing, and only those who are willing to accept Beijing's behind-the-scenes instructions are qualified to serve as front stage scenes. The NPC- or CPPCC-style culture has arrived in Hong Kong. No matter how controversial the bills, there are only a few votes against them, and they are all passed quickly with an overwhelming number of votes.

Likewise, the opposition party's positioning, which has continued for more than 30 years as a line of democratic reunification, advocating moderate political discussion and rational communication, has formally passed into history with the prosecution and imprisonment of pioneering pro-democracy figures one after another.

There was a time when these political parties and legislators, commonly known as the moderate pan-democrats, were the mainstay of the democratic movement in Hong Kong and the main force of the opposition.

Nowadays, what Beijing demands is no longer a united front, but absolute control and command, with no opposition allowed. If one wants to remain independent and autonomous, or if one insists on following public opinion and going against Beijing's wishes at the critical moment, he simply cannot enter the Legislative Council. Even if he barely makes it into the legislature, he will be disqualified at any time. Only if the pro-democracy members agree to listen to Beijing, will they be able to stand for election and take up a minority of seats in the 20 remaining geographical direct elections, just like Ronny Tong, Tik Chi-yuen and Wong Sing-chi, who are ready to shatter what they used to stand for. There will no longer be any real opposition parties in the Legislative Council after the end of this year.

Not only will there be no more opposition parties in the legislature, there will be no more open opposition to Beijing outside the legislature. The Tian'anmen massacre march and the candlelight vigil are symbols of a watershed moment when the barrier between the "Two Systems" in Hong Kong disappears.

For 30 years, every year at the end of May, there has been a march for the vindication of the Tian'anmen massacre. Each year in the evening of 4 June, there has been a candlelight vigil in Victoria Park, with the theme of mourning the Tian'anmen massacre victims, demanding vindication and accountability for the massacre, and the slogan of ending one-party dictatorship and building a democratic China.

Beijing has always abhorred such open questioning and challenges, and had put pressure on Britain during the British rule in Hong Kong, but to no avail. Beijing was later forced to endure in silence for the sake of a smooth transition. Perhaps Beijing thought that the fervour for the 4 June memorial would gradually die down after the handover, but the people of Hong Kong are so attached to the 4 June memorial that they insist on commemorating it every year, and the candlelight in Victoria Park has lasted for 30 years.

In 2020, the SAR government used the pandemic as an excuse to stop the rally and the evening party. This year, the same tactic was used again, with a large number of police officers deployed to deter people from taking to the streets on their own initiative. The Macau authorities even banned the 4 Jun Candlelight Vigil on the grounds that the slogan was against NSL.

In the light of the situation in Hong Kong and Macau SARs, since Beijing has enacted NSL, all voices questioning the dictatorship of the Chinese Communist Party can be labelled as incitement to subversion, and police force will be used. Beijing will inevitably arrest and prosecute the main person in charge of the Alliance, while investigating its finances and attempting to block its assets and paralyse the entire organisation, just as it did with the pro-democracy camp.


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