We do not have legislation that governs referendums in Hong Kong, therefore it is impossible to define what exactly a referendum is. Consequently, it has become open season for politicians and various parties to toy with referendum-related issues willy-nilly. This situation calls to mind what happened all those years ago, when certain parties peddled the idea of building a democratic China, drawing Hong Kong into the mire of an everlasting political movement that was doomed to fail. Unfortunately, this spectacular failure meant that many ordinary Hongkongers subsequently grew tired of politics, banishing it from their daily lives as far away as possible. A referendum is a serious matter and, essentially, it involves the participation of all voters at the ballot box to decide on a single issue, using their votes to say “yes” or “no”.
At present, Hong Kong does not have the right to referendums. To hold one would involve the amendment of existing law at the Legislative Council (LegCo). However, to amend the Basic Law, it requires the prior approval of Beijing, which is a no-go area.
To counter this impasse, one way is to call up a group of five candidates, getting them to win a seat in each of the five voting districts and then resigning to trigger a de-facto referendum. This can be seen as slapping the establishment on the face, or an outright political blackmail. As current legislation forbids the resigned candidates to return to LegCo via the ensuing by-elections, the plan requires a show of formidable determination from all five candidates. This determination, together with campaign activities, the official presence of the election authority and the wider participation of voters, is the best way to demonstrate the will of the people of Hong Kong. The view thus expressed is highly representative (a significant result), powerful enough to threaten Beijing into a more conciliatory position.
Another way to hold a referendum is in the form of an opinion poll. However, it lacks authority as it does not require the presence of the official election authority or the participation of voters at the ballot box. Hence, it carries little weight as a political tool. Also, it is hard to mobilise a wide participation of voters. Only a committed few will bother to turn up to cast their votes. The verdict is inevitably a skewed one (biased result). It has no bite and Beijing will simply turn its nose up at it.
My proposal is simple and effective. If we can enter LegCo in the future, we will enlist the support of as many LegCo members as possible to achieve a two-thirds majority in order to amend the following Basic Law provisions (while generating widespread discussion in Beijing and on the international scene):
1. Article 5: to make the Basic law become a permanent constitution. This will set in stone once and for all Hong Kong’s sovereignty as a special administrative zone, protecting our own legal system, international investments, credit worthiness and leasehold tenure, and thereby safeguarding Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity. I believe the chances of getting this through are high, as Beijing has already begun to soften its approach towards us. Once this is achieved, we will then call for direct elections for both LegCo and the Chief Executive post.
2. Article 22: giving Hong Kong the right to approve immigrations from China. We can use this as a flexible tool for negotiations with Beijing. I’m 100% certain that this can be done.
3. Article 24: ensuring that children born to parents who are not permanent Hong Kong residents do not have right of abode in Hong Kong. Drawing a line between Mainland Chinese and Hongkongers is vital for the survival of Hong Kong as a community. This is because once the nationality issues between the two groups are cleared up, the idea of Hongkonger as a nationality will emerge and take root. The chances of getting this amendment through are quite high. This is because in the past Beijing has already expressed a desire to put a stop to Chinese nationals with no parental connections in Hong Kong acquiring Hong Kong identity simply by being born here. This has not been followed through only because Beijing realised that doing so would involve laying down the concept of Hongkonger as a distinct nationality, which would require changes to the constitution. There will be some resistance from Beijing to this. If necessary, we will turn up the volume and step up our threat when we resign to trigger a de-facto referendum.
May I remind every reader of this piece that what is at stake here is the sovereignty of Hong Kong as a city-state, its effective governance and a Hong Kong that is truly run by Hongkongers themselves. With the support of our voters, this is the agenda that the coalition of Civic Passion, Proletariat Political Institute and Hong Kong Resurgence are committed to push through in LegCo. You will see our plan in action from day one.
I know how to do it. I tell you how to do it. I need not ask you for ideas. It’s my job to give you ideas. What is needed is only your vote for the right person. That’s all.
No opinion poll, nothing. Just your vote. And your trust.
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