The road to democracy is long|Helena Wong Pik-wan

Published (HKT): 2020.11.23 11:19

In the face of the dictatorship of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and a series of prosecutions and political repression against pro-democracy members of the Legislative Council (LegCo), we collectively resigned from LegCo after the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPCSC) and the Hong Kong government conspired to disqualify four of us. From December 1, I will no longer be a legislator and will officially put an end to my eight-year term at LegCo.

Following the pro-democracy primaries held in mid-July, I publicly announced that I would not take part in the next LegCo election. This means I have been prepared to pass the torch to other people. But in late July, the government canceled the LegCo election scheduled for September on the pretext of the coronavirus pandemic. After much thinking and polling, I, together with 19 other pro-democracy lawmakers, decided to stay at LegCo for another year to prevent any evil bills from being passed.

Throughout history, the road to democracy was never easy. In Eastern Europe, Taiwan and South Korea, it took several generations of people with strong will to achieve democratization of their countries. Hong Kong people’s story of fighting for democracy dates back to the 1980s, and I feel honored to have been part of it.

I graduated from the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 1982. Shortly afterwards, China and Britain signed the Sino-British Joint Declaration on Hong Kong’s future. That marked the beginning of a period of political transition for Hong Kong. I participated in the first wave of the city’s democracy movement. I was involved in the work of the secretariat of the Joint Committee on the Promotion of Democratic Government. Since then, I have been determined to fight for democracy.

The path I was to follow was apparently established. In 1988, I, together with Szeto Wah, Martin Lee, Yeung Sum, Albert Ho Chun-yan, Lee Wing-tat and Cheung Man-kwong, who were all older than me, pushed for the 1988 direct LegCo election. However, the British colonial government later decided to postpone the poll amid opposition from China. But we did not give up. In 1991, the government eventually held the first direct election.

After that, I went to the US to do my PhD. Prior to the 1997 handover, I returned to Hong Kong and taught general education at the Polytechnic University while continuing to fight for democracy with my comrades.

The fight was a long-running process. A decade ago, my involvement in the debate over political reforms and the Alliance for Universal Suffrage brought me back to the frontline of the democracy movement. That was also thanks to the encouragement of my fellow activists. I also became a politician. I lost in the District Council elections in 2011, but a year later, I won a seat at LegCo representing Kowloon West.

Hong Kong is my home. I always believe we should keep building up a democratic system for the city under the “one country, two systems” arrangement and strive for double universal suffrage. That is the way to safeguard Hong Kong’s core values. At LegCo, I speak for the people and promote justice.

Over the past decade, Hong Kong’s democratization has been going backward. The anti-extradition movement swept across the city but was eventually cracked down by the CCP through police brutality. Young people have been arrested indiscriminately; the screw is being tightened on the media and the education sector; Hong Kong’s core values of freedom of speech and academic freedom are being attacked. The NPCSC recently adopted a new way to disqualify four pro-democracy legislators and delegated the Hong Kong government to do the job, which is in violation of procedural justice and anti-constitutional. The move meant the last mask covering up the authorities’ shame is off and is tantamount to declaring the death of the “two systems”.

In recent years, the CCP has been striving to achieve overall jurisdiction over Hong Kong. It has repeatedly intervened in Hong Kong’s internal affairs that should be within the realm of the city’s autonomy. The SAR government aligns its actions with the CCP’s objective, filtering out certain LegCo election candidates, arbitrarily disqualifying LegCo members, and bypassing the legislature to enact the National Security Law. Under the CCP’s governance characterized by an ultra-leftist approach, power has been centralized. The CCP simply will not allow Hong Kong to have genuine democratic universal suffrage.

The pursuit of democracy over the past 30 years has been bumpy and challenging. Double universal suffrage as promised by the Basic Law has yet to materialize, and democracy remains elusive. Besides, the freedoms that Hong Kong people cherish have been undermined. But people’s strong desire for democracy and freedom is very clear. Hong Kong’s democracy movement and civil society, which have been growing relentlessly in the past three decades, are being suppressed by the tyranny through severe laws and punishments. Yet I believe the suppression will only serve to reinforce Hong Kong people’s will to resist.

I have been a LegCo member for two terms. Being a politician has enriched my life and broadened my horizons. I feel honored to have had the opportunity to speak up for the public and serve Hong Kong people.

I am about to bid farewell to LegCo. If there is a LegCo election next year, I hope the new generation of pro-democracy activists will take up the baton and compete with the royalists, fight for every inch of land and recover LegCo. I hope everyone involved in the democracy movement will strengthen cooperation, stay united to fight the dictatorship, and continue to fight for a democratic and free Hong Kong!

(Helena Wong Pik-wan, legislator of the Democratic Party)

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