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Hong Kong holds first ‘clean’ election for decades


  • West’s anti-China bodies call for boycott in a bid to lower turnout, but stay at a distance
  • Most notable change: local candidates focusing on real issues, not democracy slogans
  • Legislative council, long frozen by polarization, finally free to work on society’s problems

NINETY INDIVIDUALS ARE TODAY celebrating the results of a Hong Kong election which for once was not dominated by US-sponsored anti-China activists.

Newly elected representatives for the Hong Kong people range from a popular pastor to a trade unionist to a town planner to a pioneering ophthalmologist.

All came from local Hong Kong civic groups or stood as independents. None were identified in records as receiving cash from the usual Western organizations which have been spending millions of US dollars every year interfering in Hong Kong politics.

HUGE CHANGE

This is a huge change. Since at least 1994, anti-China groups have spent of millions of dollars annually to tilt the results of Hong Kong elections, paying regular sums to political activist groups such as the Confederation of Trade Unionists, which disbanded after a law was passed against foreign collusion and associated activities. One US State Department body is on record as having paid staff salaries to anti-government activists in Hong Kong.

This weekend, candidates and voters were both thrilled by the historic change, which ends, for now, the outside interference and polarization that has logjammed the Legislative Council, making it impossible to get anything done.

“It’s important that we change the system in order to enable us to move forward, we’ve been frozen. And so, this is great, really exciting,” Duncan Abate, a lawyer, told Fridayeveryday.

This meant that Hong Kong people could escape from geopolitical machinations to actually dealing with issues for the community.

Gary Wong, who was involved in many of the discussions leading up the election, told us: “There are no political slogans just now. Everybody debates about issues that matter to Hong Kong. We’re concerned about housing, how to identify possible land, and then we’re concerned about how to push forward industrial reform, diversify our industries: things with substance.”

WHERE THE BODIES ARE BURIED

Critics have said that the new legislative council would not criticize the government, but that argument can be demolished by just five minutes of talking to the new wannabe representatives – all of whom appear to have strong feelings about what the government has done wrong and how to set it right.

Mike Rowse, who is known for his forthright views but used to work in the government, told us: “I’m very experienced with the government. I know where all the bodies are buried!” Although Rowse was not elected, he is expected to remain a loud, critical voice.

HUNGRY TO GET TO WORK

Despite Western media criticism which interprets “patriotism” as a negative (which it isn’t in Chinese), the atmosphere among voters and candidates was very upbeat, with winners hungry to get to work.

The polarized West-East tensions of recent years slowed down government activity to a snail’s pace and seriously threatened to bring all civil activities, including the running of hospitals and schools, to a complete halt with the “we burn, you burn” campaign last year.

“We’re now in a situation whereby, having recognized that, we’ve got to find a way forward,” said Duncan Abate. “And I think this is it.”

MORE CASH COMING

Meanwhile, politics-watchers warned that the political interference remains active under the surface. The National Endowment for Democracy, a CIA spin-off, admitted sending more than US$2 million to unnamed Hong Kong people last year alone, and much larger sums have been earmarked to be spent here in 2022. Recipients are not identified.

In recent years, other Western groups which have been active under the surface of Hong Kong politics includes CANVAS, the Oslo Freedom Foundation, and the Albert Einstein Institute, all three of which specialize in “weaponizing” street protests to create hybrid wars leading to regime change. All three have worked with the US State Department.

Academic Thomas Carothers was quoted on the front page of the New York Times recently saying that America’s constant messaging that its activities around the world were designed to spread democracy “was never really true”. Advancing the country’s interests was the real aim.

GIVE US A CHANCE

So the lack of US interests in this week’s election was refreshing.

One of the big vote-getters yesterday was Priscilla Leung of the Business and Professionals Alliance, who told us: “All these 90 people are to determine the future direction of Hong Kong: how to become competitive, how to solve our deep-rooted problems, and how to heal the heart of social division in Hong Kong.”

She’s aware that overseas critics will put a negative spin on local people governing Hong Kong but asks only for an opportunity to show what can be done if people work cohesively instead of in polarization.

“Give us a chance,” she said. “Give us a chance.”


Watch a video report on the election below:

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Main images by Fridayeveryday staff