From exacting political parties their vote debts, to the parties exacting your bloody tears: when the 2019 “EXACTING blood debts with OUR votes” is a 2012 “sanction vote debts with our votes” knock-off

From exacting political parties their vote debts, to the parties exacting your bloody tears: when the 2019 “EXACTING blood debts with OUR votes” is a 2012 “sanction vote debts with our votes” knock-off

In the novel 1984, the totalitarian state’s authority created Newspeak, a set of vocabulary designed to maintain their power of control. Dominion is about the use of rhetoric that is beyond one’s imagination. It is not your typical Hong Kong-style double-meaning wordplay, such as Leung Chun-Ying’s “there is ample room for discussion on whether to withdraw or not”, when addressing the National Education Curriculum Controversy in 2012, for it was mere gibberish that doesn’t even qualify as wordplay. None were fooled by it, so it’s not something worth being smug about. A real political con is ideological, whereby it makes you feel that you have your freedom to think for yourself, but in actuality your thoughts are being manipulated by the regime, party and plutocrat’s rhetoric, so that you would be engaged in weak and meaningless resistance just as they hope you will.

This Newspeak meant to preserve the status quo is everywhere in Hong Kong politics. Around a decade ago, there was the term “democratic elements”. The “democratic” part of the two-word term leaves an impression on the audience that is loud and clear; on the other hand, the “elements” part is somewhat vague and indistinct, and in its ambiguity you have room for psychological manipulation. By manipulation it is saying “having certain elements means you have some, it’s not like you don’t have it; so it’s better than have nothing at all. It’s better to have ‘elements of democracy” than have no democracy at all!”

Newspeak for maintaining status quo: “democratic elements”

The term “democratic elements” originated in 2008 when the HK communist SAR regime presenting its constitutional reform package, whereby the senior officials tried to pass the buck on implementing universal suffrage by replacing it with expanding the Election Committee, Geographical Constituencies and Functional Constituencies (namely the “Super District Council” constituency). By increasing the number of seats [members of the Legislative Council], has there been an increase to the “elements of democracy”? Has it become a democratic system? Is this what is meant by “having more is better than less”? Would concrete become more firm and stable by adding more water into it?

Herein is the “psychological manipulation” of political rhetoric: change a wording here, omit one there, coupling it with an erroneous analogy, pulls an ol’ switcheroo, and now you can add the citizenry into the mix to exercise their freedom of speech so that they will give up their own rights. This is the power of political rhetoric.

In the latter half of 2019, there was a huge amount of political rhetoric within what Apple Daily and the Pan-Democrats have dubbed, the “Anti-China Extradition” movement, which had deliberately taken vocabularies right out of the pages of the prior Hong Kong Localist Movement and democratic movements. Yet, their misappropriation contains many ambiguities that have created another version of Hong Kong’s political history; one that has produced a novel political understanding, which resulted in more local Hong Kongers being sacrificed that ill-intentioned political parties can take advantage of.

The immoral “the ballot box in exchange for blood spilled”

Some protesters lost their lives during the first part of the Constitutional Protection Movement of 2019, to which the Pan-Democrats’ public opinion apparatus took the opportunity to suggest “repay blood debts with your votes” as a slogan, saying that the sacrifices made by protesters should be reciprocated by having the Pan-Democrats win in the next election. In addition, some “yellow ribbon” also used the catchphrase “sanction vote debts with our votes”; whereby “vote debts” is the “yellow-ribbons” reference to the Pro-establishment factions, and “sanction … with our votes” refers to the Pro-Establishment’s lost of voter support.

Afterwards, various signs indicated that the “yellow-ribbons” are willing to accept political parties and figures gaining a seat at the legislature as repaying the blood spilled by fellow citizens. During the District Council Election in November, the Pan-Democrats gained seats while the Pro-Establishment lost a significant amount. Subsequently, many infographics had been circulated online roughly saying that “protesters purchased our votes with their blood”, “each vote is stained with blood”; and an elderly listener phoned-in during Commercial Radio Hong Kong’s morning show the day after said election, lamenting tearfully that he came out to vote for the Pan-Democrats for what is his first time voting, all because of the guilt he felt upon seeing the blood spilled by Hong Kong’s youths. Awareness of the need to vote aroused by human blood is one deciding to become a Christian. Such public confession by “yellow-ribbons” is no longer about “repaying blood debts”, nor is it their earlier declaration that “helping the Pan-Democrats gain seats at the legislature is our only option available for exacting blood debts owed by the HK communist SAR regime”; instead it became a subterfuge by turning it all into an even bloodier, brutal and barbaric idea that “blood beget votes”, where it becomes “blood was spilled so that Pan-Democrats can win over the Pro-Establishment” and “the martyrs had shed their blood for my political enlightenment”. The “yellow-ribbons” even employed thanksgiving rhetoric to thank “valiant protesters” for spilling their own blood and going to jail as a call for people to vote for the Pan-Democrats; these martyrs that can never be brought back to life, are now made to bear the cross on their backs, their blood now spilt for voters and political parties, as part of the Pan-Democrat’s psychological manipulation.

“Sanction vote debts with our votes”: concerning the political contract between voters and legislators

The slogan “exacting blood debts with our votes” is an adaptation of the “sanction vote debts with our votes” movement back in 2011 and 2012, which in turn is an adaptation of the four-worded adage “repay blood debts with blood”. By “vote debt” it refers to the votes citizens gave to their chosen legislators or political parties, empowering them to honour their election promises within a particular period of time. However, when those legislators, not only did they failed to realise their promises, but even violated it by sabotaging their election platform, then they have betrayed the political contract made between voters and legislators; and thus they became unworthy of their voters, this is what is meant by “vote debts”. Now that there is a “vote debt”, voters will boycott those legislators in the next election, breaking off all ties with them and withdrawing their mandate, this is what is meant by “sanction … with our votes”.
Hence, as the “yellow-ribbons” never voted for the Pro-Establishment in 2019, there is no mandate and therefore cannot be said that the Pro-Establishment owe them a “vote debt”; unless of course that some of them had once voted for the Pro-Establishment.

Vote debt from 2010: reneging on election promises, colluding with the Chinese regime, supporting a bogus constitutional reform and betraying the civil movement

Let us go back to the origin of the “Sanction vote debts with our votes” movement during 2011 and 2012. When the Pan-Democrats won the 2008 Legislative Council Election, they promised that they will fight for universal suffrage for both the legislature and the position of Chief Executive in 2012 and 2013; this was the basis for the political contract they made with voters. Yet, in 2010, the Democratic Party, the Hong Kong Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood and Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union and other academics that supported the Pan-Democrats, voted in support of the proposal to increase the number of seats for the Functional Constituencies when it was time to put the second constitutional reform proposals to the vote, and yet nothing in the proposal mentioned how the 2012 and 2013 direct election were to be held. This broke their election promises and tore apart the political contract they made with their voters.

The SAR regime’s phoney constitutional reform then put forward the pro-status quo newspeak term “democratic element”. Cheung Man-Kwong from the Democratic Party also created another newspeak term in concert with the regime, which was “quantitative change to qualitative change”; meaning that, with the “quantity of democracy” having increased, then so too did the “quality of democracy”, and thus Hong Kong would have achieved democratic elections. When faced with criticism, member of the Democratic Party Helena Wong Pik-Wan back then told Hong Kongers to “tolerate the Functional Constituencies for two more terms; this means that, after the 2012 and 2016 elections, Cheung Man-Kwong’s “qualitative change” would be complete and the Functional Constituencies would be abolished. Well, did it? Have the Functional Constituencies been abolished? By no means, for the “Yellow Ribbons” are now crying out for racing to take seats in the Functional Constituencies [in the upcoming Legislative Council election].

The Democratic Party and co. didn’t just allow the spurious constitutional reform to pass; the proposal also had support from the Chinese communist regime as well, for it was the result of the former colluding with the latter in the dark. When the debate for the said constitutional reform was in full swing, they went into the Hong Kong Liaison Office for talks with Chinese communist officials behind closed-doors to discuss the constitutional reform proposals, and none were willing to disclose the details before or after the fact. It was until the SAR regime made their proposal in the Legislative Council that it saw the light of day. The Democratic Party and their cohort at that time, not only have they destroyed the political contract [with their voters], they had also broken decorum on Hong Kong’s autonomy.

Before their private talks inside the Hong Kong Liaison Office, the Democratic Party had boycotted the “Five District Referendum Movement” launched by the then League of Social Democrats and Civic Party, a civil movement that would have allowed all voters in Hong Kong to hold a referendum to demonstrate their standpoint on the issue of direct elections, which was a cause for concern whether they used their opposition against the “Five District Referendum Movement” civil movement as leverage for being able to hold secret talks inside the Hong Kong Liaison Office.

Sanction with our votes in 2011 and 2012: withdrawing support for political sell-outs and establish a third balancing power

Due to the Democratic Party, the HK Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood, Lee Cheuk-Yan and others having had a part in engaging [the Chinese communist regime] in secret talks, as well as allowing the counterfeit constitutional reform to pass, destroying the political contract they had with voters, the political party known as People Power launched the “sanction vote debts with our votes” movement during the 2011 District Council Election and 2012 Legislative Council Election. They called for voters to boycott those Pan-Democrat candidates that did not support a democratic constitutional reform, as well as assigning political figures new and old as candidates to compete in the election, in order to advocate for taking the third road that voters can choose from, and thus widen [Hong Kong’s] political spectrum.

The “vote debt” and “sanction with our votes” in the “sanction vote debts with our votes” were about political ethics concerning the mandate that empowered elections, which was to provide another option outside of the choice between Pro-Establishment and Pan-Democrats, that was the radical democrats. As a result, the Democratic Party had a drastic loss in votes during the 2011 and 2012 elections, as well as having members of their party on both the Legislative Council and District Council level announcing their withdrawal from the party.

A subterfuge that lies in the difference between having the word “blood”

This, then, was the “sanction vote debts with our votes” movement. Would this article’s readers think for a moment, where is the difference between “sanction vote debts with our votes” and “repaying blood debts with our votes” of 2019? For the former, it causes some within the crowd to rise up, while the latter desensitises them and forfeit the martyrs. The 2012 “sanction vote debts with our votes” awoken a significant minority that saw through the Democratic Party, and others like them, as being just another pro-establishment party that stands in opposition to the Democratic Alliance for the betterment and progress of Hong Kong (DAB). They now also understand that “DAB is absolutely shameless, but the Democratic Party is the same in spades”, that they don’t need to “vote for them with distaste”, as well as providing the starter base for the [Hong Kong] Localist Movement later down the track. For the latter (repaying blood debts with our votes), it’s about calling for people to use the blood spilled by our martyrs to once again empower the Pan-Democrats to return to the legislature in the upcoming Legislative Council Election and the District Council Election that had taken place just recently, for voters dissatisfied with the Pan-Democrats to again vote for them with distaste, and whitewash the Pan-Democrats’ trashy track record. On the difference of the word “blood” alone, this political rhetoric succeeded in its subterfuge and established itself as a pro-status quo newspeak. What a bitter disappointment it is!

(Editor’s note: this article was published on the 77th printed edition of Passion Times. The subscription link for the printed edition is: )