Monthly Archives: July 2017

Why the muted outrage? The danger of ‘demobilization’

The “one country, two systems” model is finally killed by the disqualification of four more legislators and the application of mainland laws when the HK section of the high speed railway opens.

Since last week, pro-democracy voices have been wondering why the public responses have been so mute.

This is not because there is no public outrage. The problem is that HK politics has entered the phase of demobilization.

Demobilization is common in contentious politics. What the Umbrella Movement achieved was unprecedented mobilization of hitherto unconcerned citizens. What the perception of failure has created is the opposite — demobilization of once mobilized individuals and groups. Like other cases around the world, demobilization has come with bitter infighting, defection, disillusion, and heightened repression. In the aftermath of the umbrella movement, different opposition groups have bitterly blamed one another for the perceived failure. (Tilly and Tarrow, Contentious Politics, pp. 35, 122, 144)

Once a movement has entered the phase of demobilization, it becomes very difficult to restart mobilization. HK people were motivated to join the umbrella movement then because they were hopeful that people power could change politics — they could cite the successful cases of massive protests bringing down Art. 23 legislation in 2003 and national education in 2012. Now, people are pessimistic because Beijing is dictating everything and is willing to issue new decisions whenever things do not go its way. Thus, just when mass protests are more necessary than before, people are not taking the time  to fight a seemingly lost cause. (See, e.g., 香港還有希望嗎?)

What to do? The most important lesson from other cases is: Don’t give up.
Here are lessons from other movements:
  • Lesson 1: Plan a strategy
  • Lesson 2: Overcome atomization and fear and futility; create unity; mobilize broad participation
  • Lesson 3: Target pillars of support; create cracks in the regime
  • Lesson 4: Resist violence
  • Lesson 5: let regime repression backfire
  • Lesson 6: Don’t give up! You haven’t lost if you haven’t given up.

Contentious politics is, after all, the art of the impossible. (See related posts: forceful nonviolencefallacy; hunger strike)

We know that the disqualified legislators will keep fighting on:





The rest of us could turn to everyday forms of resistance under tightening domination. (See James Scott’s Weapons of the Weak):

  • doing what everyone is best at and upholding professional values in our daily routines — after all, if the civil service still maintains some semblance of neutrality and the media still show signs of press freedom only because many individuals have insisted on professionalism in their daily jobs
  • donate to the disqualified legislators and vote for them and their allies in by-elections
  • support civic groups and media organizations that uphold HK values
  • buy from mom-and-pop shops instead of chains or businesses controlled by pro-Beijing forces — see  boycott ; 撐小店大聯盟
  • help out each other in daily lives to strengthen the sense of civic community and counter the regime’s divide-and-rule efforts
  • do whatever one can think of to live in truth and to sustain HK’s core values



【守護公義基金】 恒生銀行 788-006039-001



Long Hair:  支持社民連

姚松炎 Edward Yiu

Observations of the muted outrage:

Joseph Zen: Why didn’t people come out in force? (那何市民沒有成群出來,作出更強烈的抗議)

連番廢黜議員 集會人數黯然連番廢黜議員-集會人數黯然/







Filed under Umbrella Movement

R.I.P. ‘one country, two systems’ — if mainland law applies along the high speed railway

It is reported that the HK government will formally announce next Tue. that it will lease an area inside the West Kowloon Terminus to mainland authorities where mainland laws are applied.

The arrangement is reminiscent of colonial-era extraterritorial concessions .

Pro-democracy voices have widely decried the proposal for blatantly violating the Basic Law.

Ronny Tong, once a democrat but now serves on the Executive Council, said that “It is stated very clearly in Article 18 that mainland laws cannot be implemented on Hong Kong land… unless you put [the laws] in Annex III,” adding that it would be even more worrisome if mainland laws become Hong Kong laws through Annex III. (See Mainland enclave in Express Link station ‘not compatible with Basic Law,’ says Exco member)

Alan Leong, a Civic Party veteran, believed that “If you mourn Liu Xiaobo, ask for release of Liu Xia [on the train], I am sure you will be arrested.” In response, Priscilla Leung, a pro-government politician, said the public should not speak of political issues on the train. (See the same story)

Joshua Wong is worried that mainland security officials would then be able to snatch dissidents and lock them up under mainland laws right at the heart of HK. He was referring to the awkward smuggling of the book seller Lee Bo across the border on mainland boats last year.

We should recall that Hong Kong’s post-handover generation first came of age when they mobilized to stop the plan to build the rail link in 2010, with the much celebrated “satyagraha walk.” See Hong Kong protesters fail to halt bullet-train link from Chinese mainland.



The satyagraha protest/苦行反高鐵


More analyses:

‘Rail link plan will rob HK of its protection’

Partition layout of Express Rail Link West Kowloon Terminus customised according to mainland authorities

今天割地 明天還有什麼不可割讓!

Badiucao’s cartoon:




Filed under Umbrella Movement

R.I.P. the rule of law with disqualification of legislators

As of June 30-July 1, Martin Lee, dubbed the father of Hong Kong’s democracy movement, still remarked that the rule of law was under assault but still standing strong.

Today, democrats mourned the death of the rule of law after the court disqualified 4 legislators with retroactive effect to the day that they first took the oath on October 12, 2016.

The four disqualified legislators are Democracy Groundwork’s Lau Siu-lai, Demosisto’s Nathan Law, the League of Social Democrats’ Leung Kwok-hung (Long Hair) and architectural sector lawmaker Edward Yiu.


This ruling came after the court barred two legislators-elect, Sixtus Baggio LEUNG Chung-hang and YAU Wai-ching, from re-taking their oaths last Nov. The duo had displayed a “Hong Kong is not China” flag during their initial swearing-in ceremony.

What is at stake?

The rule of law: 1) Beijing issued an interpretation of the Basic Law in November 2016 right before the conclusion of judicial proceedings re: Leung and Yau. The interpretation was seen as direct interference with the judiciary’s independence. 2) Today’s ruling follows the NPCSC decision and is retroactive to the day when the 4 legislators first took the oath on Oct. 12, 2016. Retroactivity fundamentally violates the rule of law. 3) In following the NPCSC decision, the court also undid the electoral choices of HK people who cast their votes for these disqualified legislators.

Legislative oversight of executive actions: The regime’s plan is to deprive the minority pro-democracy legislators of their veto power. The government is bound to hold by-elections to fill vacated seats. If there is only one seat per district in the by-elections, the pan-dems would win, as what happened in the New Territories East by-election last year. However, the disqualification of 5 directly elected legislators (and one chosen from a functional constituency) by now means that some districts will have two vacated seats. Given their outsized resources and mobilization capabilities, the pro-establishment camp expects to win the second seat. This would eliminate the democrats’ veto power for the rest of the term, allowing the regime to change the rules of the game, push through the co-location of customs on the high-speed railway line (news suggests that Beijing will hold sovereignty over the tracks and platforms on HK territory), and most likely the Article 23 national security bill.

Pro-democracy legislators complained that the regime has declared a war on HK’s electors and vowed to “end business as usual” at the legislature.

Four more Hong Kong lawmakers disqualified over oath-taking controversy, tipping Legco balance of power

Disqualifications mean voters can no longer monitor the government, ousted lawmaker says

Democracy protesters thought they were shielded by the justice system — until Beijing turned it against them

Govt ‘declaring war’ on HK people: opposition

Protest against disqualification of lawmakers



Screen Shot 2017-07-15 at 12.07.15 AM




Filed under Umbrella Movement

RIP Liu Xiaobo

Liu Xiaobo’s charter 2008 is, in essence, a blueprint to move China closer to the HK system. Beijing has killed the “one country, two systems” model along with Liu XB.

Yet, one should never forget that “you can’t kill an idea!

See Perry Link’s translation of the Charter 08. See also “I have no enemies“.

My tribute to Liu XB: China’s dream for constitutionalism is as old as Chinese history (Chapter 1: The China Dream: Revival of What Historical Greatness? (277 KB)

Picture: Hong Kong people paid respect to Liu outside Beijing’s Liaison Office in the Western District immediately after the news of his death.


Hundreds gather at vigil in Hong Kong to mourn Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo

Memory of Liu Xiaobo 15 July (Saturday) 7 pm,From Chater Garden, Central District Hong Kong to Liaison Office, Western District Hong Kong

In Pictures: Hongkongers march through city centre in memory of Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo


The empty Nobel chair will never be filled (source: Heiko Junge/AFP/Getty Images):


China’s conscience: Liu Xiaobo’s death holds a message for China


Liu Xiaobo artwork hits world streets in latest form of protest; Badiucao’s “Sea you Liu Xiaobo”


China says Taiwan remarks on dissident Liu ‘very dangerous

How the HK press covers Liu’s death: News of Liu Xiaobo’s death buried in Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing papers

(source of visual )


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