傘後新勢力 堅拒人大8.31 決定 專業團體群起議政

政府官員近日不時落區宣傳,又在功能組別和溫和民主派中試圖「撬票」,爭取立法會通過 2017 年行政長官選舉辦法方案。另一邊廂,反對 8.31 框架的民間關注團體如雨後春筍般湧現,不少都以聯署登報等方式,表達不滿。這些新團體近月動作頻頻,群起爭取他們心目中的「真普選」。


記者:莫亦熙 劉旭霞 張肖彤 邱巧嵐 麥尚旻 李敏怡
編輯:張肖彤 文曉琳

三月初,行政長官普選辦法的第二輪諮詢結束,不少專業人士紛紛刊登報章廣告,聯署反對 8.31 框架,促請政府提出框架以外、回應社會聲音的政改方案。在一個個代表不同界別群體的聲明中,五個專業團體-法政匯思、杏林覺醒、前線科技人員議政小組、社工復興運動及進步教師同盟共同聯署,炮轟政府違法播放政改廣告的一則聲明尤為惹眼,條條明列政府的政改宣傳如合不合法。有份聯署的法政匯思召集人認為,他們有責任教育公眾。

期望教育公眾

不同於不少其他界別的專業團體如杏林覺醒、護士政改關注組,要「箍實」代表業界的議員為他們投下反政改方案的一票。法政匯思召集人文浩正就表示,現時代表業界的公民黨立法會議員郭榮鏗在政改取態上較為明朗,因此較少擔心業界內部問題,反而著眼如何向市民傳播法律知識。

文浩正稱:「從前法治有如空氣,人們習慣了它存在、當空氣被壓縮才知道其重要。」有感法律從業人員有責任去走出「象牙塔」,故希望與公眾互動註釋法律及法治。他認為,政府就普選政改方案上以法律包裝是不專業而且危險的行為,故希望組織藉拉近法律跟市民的距離,改善人們單向的理解,避免政府利用法律包裝政治議題,誤導市民。

他又指,政府一直強調「8.31 框架合乎人大及基本法要求」屬不實言論,基本法只要求香港政府有責任於二零一七年之前實行普選,然而 8.31 框架不是基本法要求的,只是中央的政治意見。他又認為政府從未打算改進方案,而一直強調的人大決定不可動搖只是政治意見,於法律層面上無法可依,亦無法律的約束力。文浩正表示,8.31 框架下的方案即使打出了一人一票這個以前沒有的牌,也只是個謊言:「不論入閘有幾多人,出閘的只有兩至三人,只能出現候選人政治取向相近的情況。」文浩正認為,政府不斷以有優化空間來游說説市民支持政改,但政府和中央都拒絕保證優化內容,「袋住先」即是「袋一世」,市民最終只能在有篩選的情況下「普選」。

凝聚業界聲音

同樣有份聯署刊登該廣告的醫學界專業團體杏林覺醒就指,現時組織的主要工作目標是「箍實」梁家騮作為組織的主要工作,確保他就政改方案投票時尊重業界的意見。醫學界早前就政改方案做過兩次意向調查。組織成員陳淑櫻醫生指,前兩次民調中,均有過半數的受訪者均表示會反對 8.31 框架下的政改方案。由於政府在四月下旬推出的「最終」普選方案基本上只是「換湯不換藥」,前兩次民調已足夠表明醫學界反對 8.31 框架的意向。她重申,杏林覺醒除了會繼續敦促梁家騮在表決時否決方案之外,亦會再加強文宣工作,令醫生和醫學生明白現行的政改方案並非「真普選」,期望以壓倒性的業界意見「箍實」梁家騮。

五個聯署的團體中,兩年前成立的社工復興運動是最「老」的。本身是浸會大學社工系講師的發起人邵家臻表示,在雨傘革命過後,觀察到社工界都傾向民主、泛民派,「大家都相信真普選,不要假普選。」他覺得多了社工參與社運,但很多社工或以個人名義參加,但就認為以社工社群的參與可再多一點。

抗衡建制力量

而另外兩個專業團體,前線科技人員議政小組和進步教師同盟則希望把業界的不同的意見和聲音發出來。

前線科技人員議政小組發起人之一黃源浩指,資訊及科技界雖有代表的組織和工會,但這些團體欠缺代表性:「界別傳統上有比較多建制派的聯會或工會,但絕大部份 IT 人也不同意他們的做法。」

而進步教師同盟成員盧日高就表示,教協在反映教師權益和政治立場議題上「不夠進步、反應不夠快」,組織希望代表一群持相同理念教師之聲音。

五個專業團體並未止步於聯署登報的合作,近日,他們又聯同另外六個專業團體,擺街站向市民講解為何要反對政府提出的政改方案。本來分散的各個團體,大有結集而擴大影響力之勢。

11 個專業團體資料

法政匯思
2015 年 1 月 27 日成立,由法律界人士組成,召集人是任建峰、文浩正、梁允信。

杏林覺醒
2015 年 2 月 7 日成立, 由醫生組成,發起人是盧文偉、馮德焜、黃任匡及陳淑櫻。

前線科技人員議政小組
2015 年 2 月成立,由前線科技人員組成,發起人黃源浩、賀穎傑、宋安來。

社工復興運動
2013 年 3 月 16 日成立,由社工組成,發起人邵家臻。

進步教師同盟
2014 年 1 月 19 日成立,由教師組成,召集人施安娜。

思政築覺
2015 年 3 月成立,由一群香港建築師及建築設計師自發組成,旨在以公民身份關注政改方向及其他社會事務。

良心理政
2015 年 4 月 28 日成立,由臨床心理學家及教育心理學家組成。

精算思政
2015 年 4 月 16 日成立,由精算師及精算界從業員組成,起源於 2015 年 3 月 4 日精算界從業員就政改立場聯署登報的行動。

IT 呼聲
2006 年成立,由 20 位資訊科技界業界人士組成,由成立以來一直爭取廢除功能界別,成員分別參選過 2006 及 2011 兩屆行政長官選舉委員會界別分組選舉。

放射良心
2015 年 3 月 28 日成立,由放射治療師及放射診斷師組成,召集人吳志傑。

護士政改關注組
2015 年 4 月 2 日成立,由護士組成,起源於 2015 年 2 月 17 日 700 名護士聯署就政改立場聯署登報的行動。

資料來源:受訪者提供及相關團體 facebook 專頁

(原文載於2015年5月20日《仁聞報》)

Hong Kong justice secretary slammed in row over judicial rulings related to Occupy protests

As Crunch Time Nears, Hong Kong Democracy Groups Still Won’t ‘Pocket’ Beijing Reform Plan

Three days before the end of a public consultation on political reform, Hong Kong pro-democracy groups reaffirm Hongkongers’ resolve to reject a very restrictive Beijing reform package.

At a press conference outside the city’s legislature late afternoon Wednesday, eight local groups submitted about 10,000 petition letters from residents to the Hong Kong government.

Scholarism, Hong Kong Federation of Students, Students Awaken, Student Fight for Democracy, Umbrella Parents, Umbrella Blossom, We are the Future Campaign, and Progressive Lawyers Group spent about a month collecting the letters from different districts and during a mass rally on Feb. 1.

“We won’t play political games with the central government’s Aug. 31 framework,” said Oscar Lai, Scholarism’s spokesman. “Compromises can’t lead to universal and fair elections.”

The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPCSC)—China’s rubber stamp legislature—ruled last August that Hong Kong’s five million eligible voters can freely pick the city’s leader during the 2017 elections—but only from two or three candidates screened by a small pro-Beijing nominating committee.

Angered by Beijing’s decision to withhold true democracy, an estimated 1.2 million Hongkongers occupied key roads in three parts of the city for 11 weeks in what is known as the Occupy protests or the Umbrella Movement.

Unmoved?

Despite the mass protests, embattled Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s government is still promoting the NPCSC’s reform package in a two month-long public consultation this year.

And there’s some concern in the pro-democracy camp that the government is abusing public broadcasting to sway public opinion.

The Progressive Lawyers Group recently called out the government for publicizing their campaign on radio and television. Convener Kevin Yam told Hong Kong media that broadcasters are breaking the law as the city’s Broadcasting Ordinance forbids the airing of political ads.

And because there’s no longer any large pro-democracy movement to remind the people of the need for “genuine universal suffrage,” Ivan Law, the chairman of the Hong Kong Federation of Students’ standing committee, says it’s unclear what the public now thinks about China’s reform proposal.

“People are only getting the government’s opinion because they keep promoting their message on public channels,” Law told Epoch Times.

Pan democrat lawmakers, however, have vowed to vote against a reform plan based on the Aug. 31 decision. Any proposal has to be passed with two-thirds majority in the Legislative Council before it can be submitted to Beijing for approval.

Oscar Lai hopes that the pan democrats, who hold 40 percent of the seats in LegCo, stick to their word.

“Otherwise, voters will respond accordingly in the next [LegCo] elections,” said Lai.

Article was originally published in The Epoch Times on 5 March 2015

Popping the Red Pill: Hong Kong Professionals Get Organized for Democracy Post-Occupy

(Epoch Times) Hong Kong’s professionals barely, if ever, let their thoughts stray to politics. This year though, the switch was flipped.

Over the past several weeks, doctors, lawyers, and financiers have started forming pro-democracy groups, seemingly spontaneously.

More than a dozen young doctors founded Médecins Inspirés late last December.

And in January, about 70 Hong Kong bankers and financiers headed by hedge fund manager Edward Chin teamed up with 50 lawyers, academics, and others to form the multi-professional group 2047 HK Monitor.

A week later, two solicitors and a barrister, Kevin Yam, Jonathan Man, and Wilson Leung, launched the Progressive Lawyers Group, a 50-member group of young legal types.

These professional groups are concerned about democracy and Hong Kong’s core values—civil liberties like a free press, freedom of speech, an independent judiciary, and the rule of law.

They are also demanding that the Hong Kong government stop backing a proposal by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, which ruled on Aug. 31 that Hongkongers must pick their leader from a shortlist of two or three candidates vetted by a pro-Beijing committee.

It was the protests in reaction to this decision—the Umbrella Movement, also known as Occupy Central, occupied streets for 79-days—that ultimately resulted in these professionals taking the future of the city’s democracy into their own hands.

Pressure Builds

“Before the Occupy movement, Hong Kong professionals rarely got openly involved in pro-democracy activism,” said prominent Hong Kong journalist and commentator Ching Cheong, in an email to the Epoch Times.

Professionals instead focused only on the issues impacting their own professions, and expressed their views during the elections held once every five years for their “functional constituencies”—fixed seats in Hong Kong’s legislature that are supposed to represent professional and special interest groups.

It took a year of Beijing ramping up its suppression in Hong Kong for professionals to realize that they had to get serious.

But as the Chinese communist regime got more aggressive in its encroachments on Hong Kong’s governance and civil liberties in recent years, some concerned professionals became more civic-minded, and active.

Worried that the conservative teachers’ union was not speaking up enough about China’s meddling in Hong Kong’s education system, some teachers formed the Progressive Teachers’ Alliance, a pro-democracy pressure group, in 2013.

That same year, Edward Chin rallied finance professionals who were concerned about the proliferation of shady mainland China business practices in Hong Kong, and wanted fair play in the financial industry, to form a support group for the “Occupy Central with Love and Peace” campaign, a series of planned protests that effectively turned into the student-led Umbrella Movement.

The Tipping Point

Several high-profile events took place in 2014 that gave impetus for professionals to start raising their voices.

In February, Kevin Lau, the former chief editor of Ming Pao, a respected Hong Kong newspaper, was brutally hacked by cleaver-wielding assailants and left bleeding in the street, an event that shocked many.

Shortly after the incident, Ching Cheong, a news veteran, helped set up the Independent Commentators Association, a press freedom watchdog.

In June, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee released its White Paper, declaring Beijing’s “comprehensive jurisdiction” over Hong Kong and the need for judges to “love the country and love Hong Kong.”

Legal professionals were particularly troubled with the “love the country” requirement for judges—it was like calling them a mere part of the city’s administration, rather than independent, politically neutral dispensers of justice.

About 1,800 lawyers marched through the streets in protest, only the third time in Hong Kong’s history that legal professionals have done something like that.

And after solicitors supported a rare no-confidence poll to oust then Hong Kong Law Society president Ambrose Lam for publicly supporting the White Paper, lawyers Kevin Yan and Wilson Leung set about creating the Progressive Lawyers Group, a political platform for legal professionals who care deeply about democracy.

But they had to put their plans on hold after police fired 87 canisters of tear gas into a crowd of tens of thousands on Sept. 28, the event that kickstarted the Umbrella Movement.

Inspired by ‘Occupy’

An estimated 1.2 million Hongkongers journeyed to Admiralty, Mong Kok, and Causeway Bay to join the Occupy protests over nearly three months, beginning in late September. People of all ages and backgrounds got a unique opportunity to come together and interact.

At the three Occupy zones, many middle class, young professionals “learnt more about the society, what they can do, and what they should do,” said Alfred Chan, the vice-convenor of the Progressive Teachers’ Alliance, in a telephone interview.

The Umbrella Movement was “very human,” Wilson Leung recalled. “Everyone was very touched by that experience.”

Young professionals initially started ad hoc groups during the Occupy movement to support the student protesters, said Ching Cheong, but they soon began to think about issues “beyond their own fields.”

“After the movement,” said Ching, “they decided to develop the original support groups into more permanent ones.”

Organized for Action

And these new professional groups are not planning to be mere talk shops.

Shortly after its rebranding in January, the 2047 HK Finance Monitor made “10 requests” to the Chinese Communist Party, based on what it said were Hong Kong’s core values. The letter was addressed to Chinese leader Xi Jinping, and published in the Asian Wall Street Journal.

The first move made by the Progressive Lawyers Group was to call out the Hong Kong government for closely backing the Standing Committee’s Aug. 31 decision, publishing a position paper dissecting and rejecting all of its legal arguments.

Médecins Inspirés, the Progressive Lawyers Group, and 2047 HK Monitor all took part in a mass rally on Feb. 1, the first large-scale pro-democracy activity after the Occupy protests.

The lawyers and teachers groups are planning school speaking tours and other forms of community engagement, aimed at raising public awareness about the rule of law, civil liberties, and human rights.

Many people still “don’t understand the aims and objectives of the Umbrella Movement,” said Alfred Chan of the Teachers’ Alliance.

But at least an increasing number of professionals do.

Wilson Leung, the Progressive Lawyers Group convener, summed up the impact of the Occupy movement on his generation of politically aware professionals.

“Before the Umbrella Movement, we were living in an idealized world; everything was going perfectly and happily,” said Leung. “After you take the red pill, however, it awakens you to what is actually going on.”

Article was originally published in Epoch Times on 10 February 2015

Hong Kong’s Protesters Return To Streets To Reject Beijing’s Version Of Democracy

For the first time since mass protests shut down some of the city’s busiest districts and grabbed the world’s attention, pro-democracy activists were out on the streets again this afternoon to continue their campaign.

Protesters marched behind a large banner bearing a caricature of the city’s Chief Executive Leung Chun Ying, beside the now-familiar slogans: “say no to fake democracy, we want genuine universal suffrage.” At the head of the procession were the leaders of the Occupy Central movement, Benny Tai, Chan Kin-man and Reverend Chu Yiu-ming, along with longtime democratic leader Martin Lee.

In the days leading up to the protest, organizers from the Civil Human Rights Front had expected about 50,000 people to take part, but early estimates point to a smaller turnout.

Although police had deployed thousands of officers in anticipation of more sit-in protests, the various interest groups attending the rally said they had no such plans. Hong Kong’s pro-democracy activists have a long history of staging peaceful and orderly rallies, but in recent years resentment and frustration with authorities has been growing, leading to some clashes between police and protesters.

Chinese leaders had promised that Hong Kong would have the right to vote for the next chief executive in 2017, but in August the National People’s Congress ruled that nominees would have to be vetted by a pro-Beijing committee.

“We’re not going to accept a framework or proposal that pretends to be universal suffrage but is not,” said Wilson Leung, the convener of a new organization called Progressive Lawyers Group, mainly consisting of young lawyers concerned about democracy and core values in Hong Kong.

“I certainly expect more protests and also more civil society groups to keep forming and expressing people’s wishes for democracy,” he added.

The government requires a two-thirds majority in the Legislative Council for its reform to pass, but pan-democratic lawmakers have already pledged to vote down the package. Faced with such low support, officials are now beginning to suggest some relatively minor concessions could be made.

“In really crucial areas, like electoral development, I don’t think they will give anything,” said Hang Tung Chow from The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Democratic Movement of China. “It’s the same as in China as whole. They will give economic concessions, but in exchange you have to accept that you will have no democracy and no political development at all.”

Many of the student activists who played such a crucial role in the mass protests, such as the Hong Kong Federation of Students and Scholarism, also took part in Sunday’s rally.

One such university student, Renay Tai, echoed the sentiment of others when she said, “You can see many people here today and during the Umbrella Movement, but CY Leung gave us no response. What else can we do?”

Article originally appeared in Forbes on 1 February 2015

Concessions for Hong Kong’s 2022 election ‘could be explored’: government source

The government is considering offering a rethink of the nominating system for the 2022 chief executive election in an attempt to win over pan-democrats who have vowed to vote down the government’s proposal for the 2017 poll.

A government source revealed last night that several possible amendments could be made the second time the city chooses its leader by universal suffrage. They could include raising the maximum number of candidates from three to four; increasing the number of members of the committee that nominates candidates from 1,200; and adding representatives of new sectors, such as youth, to that body.

The changes, which would veer from the strict framework Beijing set down last year “could be explored”, the source said.

The government needs a two-thirds majority in the Legislative Council for its reform to pass. Pan-democrats, of whom at least five would have to vote in favour for the reforms to pass, have pledged to oppose any package which would fail to provide a genuine choice of candidates.

Beijing’s framework was also questioned yesterday by a new lawyers’ group, which said the ruling constituted only “pre-emptive guidance” and did not have the force of law.

The Progressive Lawyers Group has submitted its views on reform to the government’s second consultation on 2017.

The group’s co-convenor is solicitor Kevin Yam Kin-fung, who made headlines last year by initiating a no-confidence vote that forced out Law Society president Ambrose Lam San-keung.

“We do not mean to be a rival to the Law Society or the Bar Association. I remain a member of the former,” Yam, who quit the society’s constitutional affairs committee last week, said yesterday. “We just want to provide another channel for young lawyers to express their views.”

The group comprises about 50 solicitors, barristers and law students. The other two conveners are solicitor Jonathan Man Ho-ching and barrister Wilson Leung Wan-shun. Yam noted the society had yet to state its position on electoral criteria that the National People’s Congress Standing Committee laid down in August regarding the 2017 poll.

The new group argues the decision comprises two parts.

The first part was the committee’s “determination” that the chief executive was to be elected by 2017 by universal suffrage. This, the group said, carried constitutional force because both the Basic Law and the committee’s 2004 interpretation of the mini-constitution said it was up to the committee to “make a determination” whether “there is a need” to amend electoral methods.

But the second part, the detailed framework, was merely “pre-emptive guidance” to the Hong Kong government and did not have to be followed, they said.

Article was originally published in South China Morning Post on 28 January 2015