Calls for Hong Kong Independence Hurt Push for Democracy, Ex-Governor Says

The comments, by Christopher F. Patten, offered a prominent rebuke to a separatist movement struggling for representation in the local legislature.

Comments: 21

  1. It is a shame that Mr. Patten did not choose to present his remarks in a more open forum that provides for greater participation of interested parties than does the FCC, a private club whose membership is restricted.

  2. Why would he not? The expats in Hong Kong had always been in their own little cocoon. Patten swims in that circle, he led that circle when he was governor, he's not going to speak in any public places. FCC is thus "perfect" for him, delivering his whatever big scheme in a secluded environment near Mid-Levels; more importantly, the location is FAR AWAY from all those whose daily struggles he would not need to see or hear.

  3. Mr. Patten is being unrealistic. There is no way China will allow any more democracy or autonomy to HK and he bloody well knows it.
    The Chinese govt, such as it is, has already trod all over the 1997 agreement.
    Those with the means should the colony. Those without, too bad.

  4. The two young legislators were speaking out of their conscience for their constituents and their generation that never was in Mr. Patten's time in HK. What they have done is not new. It is in the tradition of the protest culture in the Parliament of a past legislator unseated by Ms. Yau. He graciously admitted defeat in the election, explained his difference and that he is 'out'. But he was not barred from the Parliament. Part of the reason is that he is a celebrity. He knows the communist party member who was the head of the Parliament who now is forbidden to meet with Mr. Patten. The old men were bullying these young legislators. If these young legislators are barred, all of the laws voted by the ex-legislators should also be declared void. All young legislators have made modification to their oaths one way or another on their oath taking because it is unconscionable to swear that kind of oath to a one-party dictatorship that would like to call the shots in a Parliament funded by the constituents for all eternity, in essence enslaving the constituents. The plan is in black and white in the 2014 White Paper. Swearing an oath to a constitutional monarchy is not the same as to a one-party dictatorship turned oligopoly fearful of a civil war but not afraid of roaming the world kidnapping your citizens and constituents. Mr. Patten also never has to pledge allegiance, work for or went to any university the head of which is widely known to have a fake PhD.

  5. I disagreed with the crude language that the two young aspiring legislators used to express their dissent. But you have hit the nail on the head, both when you highlighted the difference between a one-party dictatorship and a constitutional monarchy, and when you reminded us of the Communist Party's reprehensible behaviour.

    Thank you.

  6. Two years after the Occupy Central movement, PRC has moved on from interfering with the election of the Chief Executive to the interference with election in the Parliament by using civil servants paid by the constituents to arbitrarily and hastily disqualify well-qualified young politicians from running to now removing and prosecuting elected MPs. Is that in accordance with the 2014 White Paper on HK or with any international agreement?

  7. Operation within the laws is the same as no body above the law. The Chinese legislature may have to step in once a while to clarify certain issues if misunderstood or misused. Challenging the Chinese law has little legal ground and will fail. Working from within to improve/modify the laws should be the task of the politicians should they have different opinions.

  8. Considering the different opinions between parliament and government on the matter, the Chinese government HAD to intervene and put forwards its interpretation of this law. This was according to the rules governing Hong Kong.

  9. Mr. Patten's tenure in Hong Kong is still fondly remembered by some who live there today. I agree with his criticism of Ms. Yao and Mr. Leung, but I think that Mr. Leung in particular also made a very good point about the interference (and violation of its promises) that the Communist Party has been responsible for.

    As more than one commentator has noted in recent months, the future doesn't look bright because those who run the Hong Kong government have proved unable and unwilling to resist the pressure that Communist Party officials from China continue to apply.

    While lamentable, the crude protests of Ms. Yau and Mr. Leung did occur in this problematic context.

  10. They are crying out for those who are stiffed and who have no voice. They are the elected representatives of the people, of their constituents, as simple as that. Somehow one way or another, HK has to be independent of the nonsense of a failed ideology to go on in justice and peace. This generation is the most educated of all generations against all odds where people have the right directly or indirectly to pay taxes but no say in many many things. Let us trust in them and keep them in our prayers. The future belongs to them and they are paying the price for their generation.

  11. Governor Patten thank you for your speech in Hong Kong. I hope Ms. Yau and Mr. Leung may change or rethink their Hong Kong independence ideas. It is not going to work. It is day dreaming. I lived in Hong Kong many years including the years when Japan attacked Hong Kong after the Pearl Harbor in December 1941 and during the years of Japanese occupation. I have been a frequent visitor to Hong Kong since 1960s. I think I know a little bit about Hong Kong. I met and talked to several British Governors and none of them advocated any independence ideas. The British rule from 1842 to 1997 has developed Hong Kong to become a better place to live and make a living. Hong Kong people should give the Beijing government a chance to carry out their so-called "One Country Two System" in peace.The leaders in Beijing always suspicious that the independence idea were backed and inspired by the United States. Hong Kong people should continue develop their international business opportunities including China a nd other parts of the world. Confrontation is not the future for Hong Kong.

  12. PRC has been given many chances for the last 30 years. The ideology itself is an untenable one. The world knows it. The fallout would not just be on HK alone. The next generation of HK and of the world cannot just live in the past.

  13. I have by chance met a Canadian POW imprisoned in HK during WWII who has since passed away. The bravery of all these young MPs in HK is not any less than this WWII soldier. May their pains and sacrifices not be in vain.

  14. There is political wisdom in Mr. Patten's clear-cut distinction between fighting for democracy and fighting for independence, in case Hong Kong people will gain neither. In his current capacity, Mr. Patten has done his best in Hong Kong's best interest. He is still fondly remembered by the locals and what he says does carry an awful lot of weight.

  15. Pattens rhetoric intervention into HK affairs is the real cause of hurting the HK democratic movement.

  16. And why does he think democracy is a good thing to begin with? There is not a single democracy I've lived in, including the United States, that match anywhere the efficiency and nationalism of authoritarian Asian states.

    Democracy, for all intents and purposes, is a backwards mode of government that deludes its people into thinking being humane or having equally distributed political power is somehow progress.

    Have a look at the protestors in Hong Kong. Nearly all youths with no grasp of history or hierarchy. They are the same kind of social detritus who base their political views on what is or isn't "nice". As it stands, the mature hierarchs of Hong Kong should be glad that the mainland shields it from democracy.

  17. "Efficiency and nationalism" are your measure of a society? Say no more . . .

  18. I agree with Mr Patten's views.

    From the outside, HK is essentially viewed as a peculiar part of China, which for historical reasons, has been made a testbed for bounded democracy. However, we sense that the Chinese government feels that they are being somewhat generous to HK. Beijing is therefore incensed that rather than feeling grateful, HK is not only seeking more freedom, but even considering independence.

    I am not a student of history, but there seems to be very few instances where a state or part of a country can peacefully exit a country without any bloodshed. Even in the USA, if say, California wants to leave the union, it is probably not going to happen as peacefully as the British leaving the EU bloc (which is technically not a country). Taking the relationship between Taiwan and China, you can see how nationalistic things can get when the issue of independence comes up.

    As it is difficult to imagine civil war breaking out, or for HK to be truly separate from China, arguing and reasoning for a higher quality of democracy within the confines of Beijing's dictates probably has the greatest chance of success.

  19. I find it highly disingenuous for anyone from Britain, particularly someone who was in charge of governing Hong Kong, to talk about what "democracy" should be like for Hong Kong.

    Whatever ideas that Patten has in his head about what Hong Kong should have had, democracy is not one of them. How dare him, talking up the democracy for Hong Kong when Britain had had over the rule of Hong Kong for a hundred years, but never bothered to do anything about that? If anything, Britain had ruled Hong Kong then just as tightly as Beijing does now; in fact, Hong Kong had been contributing to the British national budget for the longest time, whereas Beijing had done its part in boosting the economy in Hong Kong (albeit without much fore-planning other than opening the floodgate to allow mainland chinese to shop in this former colony).

    In short, Britain had all the chances that it wanted to grant greater democracy LONG before the handover in '97, and it would have had taken hold (much like the rule of law) LONG before Beijing took over. That NEVER happened, so there's that. Whatever Patten is talking now, is just empty words.

  20. The bottom line is that free speech is forbidden in parliamentary debates and MP's are pre-screened using the state machinery. A totalitarian regime that is no party to the Parliament is interfering with the running of that Parliament, with who gets to run, or on the political orientation of a politician using civil servants paid by taxpayers' money, whether the politican agrees with it or not, all the time taking a free ride except for the time it is paying for thousands of tourists to come to town to protest. This has reached an alarming state. A totalitarian regime is using Cultural Revolution style understanding to interpret the Basic Law in the hope of abiding to an international agreement. All Nations have a responsibility to weigh in for the good of humanity based on experience in the past. This is corporate work of mercy.

  21. There is a fine line between hypocrisy and politeness. When the gulf cannot be bridged, the ritual should be done away with to get on with life. Bickering on an out-of-context oath-taking ritual is not as meaningful as discussions between dialectical or diabolical materialism, SAR or SARS, free-market economy or oligopoly, and their ramifications on the world. Persecuting and depriving young politicians their vocation for life in HK is not ‘one party, two systems.’ It is human rights violation under international law. The constituents pay for the Parliament. Their representatives have spoken. PRC is not even part of it. Why should it take offence in the ‘one-party, two systems’? And if it would, get rid of the ritual since it is offending to everyone. The MPs should be restored to office before it gets to international court. HK is an international financial centre. HK people are practical.