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How Many British Governors Were Elected By The People Of Hong Kong?

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The answer to the above question, for those who did not know, is none. In 1841 under duress the Qing Dynasty ceded Hong Kong Island to the British. From 1843 until 1997, when Hong Kong was handed back to China, all Governors of Hong Kong were appointed by the British government. Nobody cried, nobody complained. But now the so called “Occupy Central” people are holding Beijing to a higher standard.

Beijing is requiring is that a committee consisting of people it trusts be allowed to vet the possible candidates for the Chief Executive position (No more Governors! That’s a colonial term). And Hong Kongers can then vote for the CE position choosing among those candidates. More than they could do under the British.

Hong Kong is now part of China. The British, with no real bargaining power, negotiated a great deal for Hong Kong which is embodied in Hong Kong’s constitution called the Basic Law. Hong Kong has more freedom than most other places in Asia including the fabled Lion City of Singapore. Anyone doubting this should pick up copies of Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post and compare with Singapore’s Straits Times.

I do not think it is unreasonable for the Communist government in Beijing to expect a certain amount of loyalty from the Hong Kong CE. The people of Hong Kong and foreign investors have to realize that the democratic British lion has been replaced by the undemocratic Chinese lion. Democracy is not something that flourished in China’s thousands of years dynastic history. The Chinese lion has behaved quite well so far – it has respected the basic law – but it is still an undemocratic lion. Hong Kong would be wise to stop annoying the Chinese lion and go happily and freely about its business.

I spend a good deal of time in Hong Kong. When bored, I watch the Cantonese news on TV even though I cannot speak a word. What I see is at times appalling. Legislators throwing things at one another, disrupting the assembly (Legco), acting like children. I assume Beijing watches the same channel. America’s founding fathers were not fans of democracy. They preferred a republic, whereby citizens of property elected representatives who ran the government. The word “democracy” cannot be found once in the American constitution. The founders were horrified by the excesses of the French Revolution.

If Hong Kong wants to get angry about something, in my opinion it should be angry that the Alibaba IPO, probably the biggest tech IPO of the year, was allowed to slip away to the US. Talk about shooting itself in the foot!

 

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Raksha Kumar

She is a dedicated television journalist, who has engaged extensively with the Indian media for four years. She won the Fulbright scholarship and intends to begin a Masters program in Broadcast from the Journalism School, Columbia University, New York in August 2010.