Occupy Central is making changes to their June 20-22 referendum after encountering opposition from within. One new question is being added to the referendum in addition to the question about electoral procedures for the 2017 chief executive election. Organizers also said they might not go forward with the opposition if they don’t get a high enough turnout.
Here are some important developments:
Occupy Central Could Abandon Disobedience Plan if Less Than 100,000 Vote in Referendum
In late May, one of Occupy Central’s three leaders, Chan Kin-man, said that it would be an admission of failure if less than 100,000 people vote in their June 20-22 referendum. “If not even 100,000 people turn up, I can say frankly that I think the campaign has failed. We, the three organisers, have discussed it … and we think that if only tens of thousands of people voted, we should make a public apology and admit that we don’t have the ability to lead the campaign,” Chan said, according to the South China Morning Post. But Chan also said that low turnout wouldn’t definitely cancel the movement’s civil disobedience plan, saying, according to the Hong Kong Standard, “[That doesnt mean] we no longer want civil disobedience. We never said it would be game over.”
Occupy Central Adds Question, Emphasizes Plan
Occupy Central added a question asking voters whether the Legislative Council should veto any election proposal that doesn’t satisfy international standards. The other question is about which proposal Occupy Central should endorse. The three proposals all call for civil nominations. Some moderate pan-democrats think the process has disenfranchised them. The main differences between the choices are that the Alliance for True Democracy plan includes a party-nomination system. Each system uses a somewhat different means for allocating seats on the nomination committee.
If voters dislike each of the three choices, they can always abstain from voting on the question–but Benny Tai, one of the leaders and formulators of Occupy Central, said they would still endorse the proposal with the most votes, even if there are more votes to abstain (SCMP).
So if you disagree with the civic nomination, which the Hong Kong Bar Association says isn’t legal in the first place, then you have no choice. I argued at China.org.cn that Occupy Central’s referendum is an undemocratic sham:
In June, this democratic theatre tour makes a stop in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is different in that the objectives of the protesters aren’t to overthrow the government but to ensure that the 2017 chief executive election allows for a wide range of candidates on the ballot. Still, they are using undemocratic tactics. The pan-democratic group Occupy Central plans to hold an SAR-wide referendum on the weekend of June 20 regarding their proposals for universal suffrage. They couldn’t have picked a better time, just after Russian thugs held sham referendums for separatism in Western Ukraine.
The results of Occupy Central’s vote are already pre-determined. All three of the proposals on the ballot call for civic nominations in the 2017 Hong Kong chief executive election. That Hong Kong residents will be allowed to vote on the chief executive in 2017 is a given; the debate is now over how candidates will be nominated for the general election. Occupy Central’s insistence on allowing civic nominations by a sufficient number of voters shows they aren’t willing to engage in that debate.
Read the full article (which also raises concerns about Thailand and Ukraine): The Undemocratic Democrats
Mitchell Blatt is a travel writer, editor, and columnist who has lived and worked in China for six years. He is an author of two guidebooks, Panda Guides Hong Kong and Panda Guides China. He has been published in National Interest.org, The Korea Times, The Shanghai Daily, Roads & Kingdoms, Vagabond Journey, City Weekend, Silkwinds and The World of Chinese, among other outlets. See examples of his published articles.