by Koo Lap
Teresa Cheng, Erick Tsang, and Paul Tse have condemned the suggestion of casting a blank vote. They believe it is an act of incitement and provokes division, and can be considered as conspiring to boycott the government, subverting the state power, and disrupting the government operations, which is, in other words, violating the national security law. They feel that casting a blank vote is especially evil, and more regulations should be set up to prevent it. Is blank vote so scary? It doesn’t seem so because the National People’s Congress (NPC) has passed the proposal to “improve” Hong Kong’s political system with 2,895 votes in favor, 0 votes against, and 1 abstention only a while ago. According to the logic of the above government top guns regarding blank votes, should they not drag that NPC deputy out who has abstained from voting and charge him/her for subverting state power to calm the nation?
Or did they mean Hong Kong people can, of course, vote abstention like the NPC deputies now the political system has been “improved”? But the three elites cannot tolerate people being encouraged to cast blank votes or, as Emily Lau said, boycott the election as a way of protest. But if voting abstention is a legal civil right already being exercised by the NPC deputies, why encouraging people to exercise such a right is violating the national security law? Have the loyal garbage hidden agenda when making these comments?
Let me be honest and say it out loud. The three elites fear that the voting rate will drop significantly or the proportion of blank votes will drastically increase after the system has been “improved,” which will embarrass the Beijing officials who are in charge of making the “improvement.” Therefore Cheng stressed that “voting is a civic duty,” raising it to such a level that it is as important as paying taxes. If that is the case, why does the complete “improvement” not be like Australia and set up rules of mandatory voting for people who reach a certain age, then also ban them from casting blank votes? Even if the government follows these two steps, it would not be able to eliminate the risk of the fast thinking and clever Hongkongers embarrassing those in power in their own way. Why?
The Records of the Grand Historian (Shiji) pointed out that there was a so-called “Law of Silent Resentment” during the era of the Han Wudi (Emperor Wu of Han). It was an era of absolute authoritarianism that, even if you did not say anything and move just your lips slightly, you would be suspected of having “silent resentment” -- resentment toward the emperor, which was a capital offense. More than 2000 years later, three elites apparently want to resume the old law of Han Wudi and ban casting blank votes to kill off the “silent resentment”– the silent protest of the Hongkongers.
But casting a blank vote is not what we wanted. A flyer from the Registration and Electoral Office calls for the citizens to register to be voters as soon as possible and encourages them to cast their votes with three aims: 1. exercise the civic right; 2. Hong Kong people rule Hong Kong and exercise a high degree of autonomy; 3. exercise civic duty. Nowadays, the Standing Committee of the NPC established the national security law for Hong Kong, and the Court of Final Appeal has no say about it. The NPC took the initiative and “improved” the political reform. Where have the “Hong Kong people rule Hong Kong and exercise a high degree of autonomy” gone? The aim of voting no longer exists, and what the voters have is not a right, but, as Secretary for Justice Cheng said, a “duty” – the duty of not embarrassing the Beijing officials.
Herbert Spencer, an English Confucianist in the 19th century, had already said voters are in a helpless situation even without the “improvement” with Chinese characteristics. Whether they have voted for the winning or losing candidate or given up to vote, they must obey the election result and support the winner. The rule of the democracy game means the minority follows the majority and has to be regulated by the policies they don’t necessarily agree to.
The new electoral system, “improved” by Beijing, means all candidates have to be reviewed by the department for safeguarding national security of the Police Force and the Committee for Safeguarding National Security, then checked by the Candidate Eligibility Review Committee to ensure that the candidate is a patriot who loves the Party, the motherland and Hong Kong. In addition, the candidate needs to receive a unanimous nomination from the five sectors of the Election Committee, which has 1,500 members, before being accepted as “one of them” and able to join the election. Any opposition, loyal or not, has no chance to pass the selection process, never mind to win the election. The citizens are already uninterested in this so-called election. If even the right to cast a blank vote as protest has been removed, it will be, as Professor Johannes Chan said, “the election has been improved, but no one goes to vote,” an embarrassing scenario. The situation has come to this. It seems the “Law of Silent Resentment” will be inevitable.
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