With its freedom and democracy in decline, Hong Kong has failed to meet the benchmarks put forward by its last colonial governor, Chris Patten, to measure its success after the 1997 handover, a pro-democracy district councillor said.
During a radio show aired by public broadcaster Radio Television Hong Kong on Sunday, Wan Chai District Council Chairperson Clarisse Yeung said aggression by the Hong Kong government toward pro-democracy politicians in the local affairs council over the past year was an example of the city’s deterioration.
Hong Kong officials have turned the district councils into hostile battlegrounds with its uncooperative and at times aggressive attitude toward pro-democracy councillors, who are in the majority, Yeung said.
Yeung cited the 16 benchmarks Patten suggested in his 1996 policy address to measure how the city fared after the 1997 handover. She said that Hong Kong’s present situation failed to meet all the benchmarks. “Hong Kong is in decline. This is not due to the political awakening of citizens but to government decay,” she said.
According to the official record of proceedings, Patten’s 16 benchmarks laid out in October 1996 were:
- Is Hong Kong’s Civil Service still professional and meritocratic? Are its key positions filled by individuals who command the confidence of their colleagues and the community and owe their appointments only to their own abilities?
- Is the SAR Government writing its own Budget on the basis of its own policies, or is it under pressure to respond to objectives dictated by Beijing?
- Is the Hong Kong Monetary Authority managing Hong Kong’s Exchange Fund without outside interference?
- Is Hong Kong behaving in a truly autonomous way in international economic organizations?
- Is the Hong Kong legislature passing laws in response to the aspirations of the Hong Kong community and the policies of the SAR Government, or is it legislating under pressure from Beijing?
- Are Hong Kong’s courts continuing to operate without interference?
- Is the Independent Commission Against Corruption continuing to act vigorously against all forms of corruption including cases in which China’s interests may be involved?
- Is Hong Kong continuing to maintain its own network of international law enforcement liaison relationships?
- Is the integrity of the Hong Kong/Guangdong border being maintained, including the separate border controls operated by the Hong Kong Immigration Department?
- Is the Hong Kong press still free, with uninhibited coverage of China and of issues on which China has strong views?
- Are new constraints being imposed on freedom of assembly? Are the annual commemorations and vigils of recent years still being allowed?
- Are foreign journalists and media organizations in Hong Kong still free to operate without controls?
- Is anybody being prosecuted or harassed for the peaceful expression of political, social, or religious views?
- Are Hong Kong’s legislators, at successive stages of the transition, fairly and openly elected, and truly representative of the community?
- Are democratic politicians continuing to play an active role in Hong Kong politics, or are they being excluded or marginalized by external pressure?
- Is the Chief Executive exercising genuine autonomy in the areas provided for in the Joint Declaration and Basic Law?
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