Save your votes until they actually count for something

Save your votes until they actually count for something

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Carrie Lam, accompanied by Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen (left) and Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Raymond Tam, promote the political reform package.
Carrie Lam, accompanied by Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen (left) and Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Raymond Tam, promote the political reform package.

I have a confession to make: I truly hope I won’t have a vote in the 2017 Chief Executive election.

The electoral process is meant to be an indispensible instrument in the pursuit of democracy. It grants legitimacy to the administration.

It suggests, according to John Locke, that the leader has earned the popular consent of the governed, be it explicit or implicit. So it is not unusual that presidential elections often call for two rounds of run-offs in cases where no candidates received majority vote, such as Dilma Rouseff’s 2014 victory in Brazil. The ultimate winner should ideally have the recognition from over half of the population.

And that is my first argument against Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s conservative framework. It has trivialized the importance of legitimacy and excluded the need to secure over 50 per cent of the valid ballots.

“689” remains a travesty of democracy that grossly under-represents our city’s 7 million people. Regardless of having 689 or sixty thousand votes, they both failed to depict the sentiment of the greater part of Hong Kong.

Even grimmer implications lay as the “illegitimate” Chief Executive could smugly claim to be elected through legitimate means, and had his policy agenda approved by the whole of Hong Kong, while in actuality he was never embraced by the general public. This is particularly significant, as formal acceptance is often used as political leverage in negotiations or protests.

The new successor might not have the same pressure to make key concessions towards civil movements as he is “chosen by the people for the people” and represents the wishes of the masses. The triumphant rallies against the implementation of Moral and National Education may become the first and only win for grassroots political groups.

My second argument is that “legality” seemed to be the only benchmark for establishing the parameters of the proposed reform, which has to be under the requirements set by the National People’s Congress or inscribed in the Basic Law.

Kazakhstan’s incumbent president had a landslide “victory” when he acquired 97.7 per cent of votes in an election with 95 per cent voter turn out, but it was under no circumstances considered a “fair” election. The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) denounced it as a blatant fraud for the lack of credible opposition or imprisonment or exiles of critics. Simply put, it was a “sugar-coating of an undemocractic event with sprinkles of democratic process and popular support glazing”.

With a nominating committee filtering potential candidates for our local 2017 election, I doubt if any individuals, without the endorsement from Central Government, would be granted admission into the arena. After all, members of the committee, elected by a narrow voter base, have no incentive to respond to the interests of citizens.

Honestly I would very much prefer to mock CY Leung Chun-ying’s lack of validation, than tolerate complacent assertions of “being accountable” and “recognised”. The call for “universal suffrage” is apparently a staged farce that convinces no one – apart from those who are willing to be fooled. Then what about promises of “having further amendments in the future”? If citizen nomination is not allowed now, what is the possibility of it being allowed in the next few decades? 

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Save your votes until they actually count

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