General

Democracy

I thank all of you who read up my last post and posted positive messages wishing me speedy recovery etc. The last count was close to 100 and still counting – not bad. Social media will likely feature in our lives in one way or other, even though it probably won’t affect our decision making process at the end of the day. It is interesting that one of the contenders for the office of chief executive has chosen not to use the social media to enhance her popularity, which in turn has led to discussions on whether or not it is a smart thing to do.

Indeed, most people would like to be regarded as smart. Very few people, except perhaps the few real smart ones, would enjoy being not smart. This however is contrary to a Chinese traditional sagacious thinking that it is a blessing to have offspring that are unwise and clumsy, for they would reach high office without trials or tribulations. There is probably a lot of wisdom behind that; and I suggest that it may not only be applicable in Chinese politics. Take Churchill, for example: many people, including his Tories friends, thought of him as a total failure, an opportunist, a bounder, a turncoat and a drunk; and his voice was often conceived by some as a mixture of brandy, port and chewed cigar. His father, who died when he was 21, never thought much of him. In short, before he became Prime Minister at 66, nothing apparently seemed right. Note the operative word apparently, I would come back to this, if not today, maybe later. But Churchill was a much loved and sought for journalist and war reporter and for which work he was paid handsomely. He knew the media and profited from it, not only for himself, but also for his country, and many would agree, for the world.

The media is a funny thing. The US media for example has by now branded Trump as someone who would never admit having made any mistakes. When things go wrong, he would always blame it on others, on situations, and increasingly on the media. Trump has called that part of the media he doesn’t like the faked media. He certainly will never profit from it for some time.

The media always wants to be seen as independent, critical, fair, unbiased, impartial and even virtuous. It always wants to occupy the high moral grounds. It says it can never be bought. Yes, politicians would often say that press freedom is the bedrock of democracy; except that politicians by definition are never independent, and most politicians have a price tag, though not always expressed in monetary units. It is therefore unrealistic to expect politicians to be the ultimate defenders of democracy.

Many people think of democracy as a uniform, universal, unchangeable monolithic institution, in like fashion that the sun always rises from the east. Our local pan-democrats believe that true or genuine democracy would solve all today’s problems, except that they would never or have never been asked to articulate what democracy means or entails. When pressed, they would trot out the western or American model of democracy by which – according to their reckoning – all citizens would be enfranchised to choose and elect the President of the country. Simple 101 logic would tell us that a false proposition would lead to any including a true conclusion.

Our pan-democrats have painted themselves into a corner from day one. They looked at the so called western style democracy and tried to emulate the parts they liked or they thought they understood, without giving due weight to the reality that in a western style democracy, the dominant elected political party becomes the ruling party and forms a government. Alas, Hong Kong has inherited or developed a hybrid system that at best can only be described as a benevolent autocracy, largely evolved from the British Colonial Government injected with measures of elected elements and further enshrined under the Basic Law. Arguably, that was what the people wanted in the lead up to 1997 – to preserve the way of living; that was what both the British and Chinese governments could allow – to preserve dignity of the British and to regain sovereignty for the Chinese. That was the tried and tested formula to maintain stability and prosperity of Hong Kong. It is the formula which has gained Hong Kong for the 23rd year in running, the freest economy in the world, as declared by the Heritage Foundation, even as our pan-democrats are crying foul inside and outside the Legislative Council.

I need to allow my eyes to rest; and I would talk to you again soon.

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