Monday, December 3, 2007

The Battle of the Tai Tais

This past weekend was the fight everyone was watching in Hong Kong -- the by-election race between Anson Chan, former Chief Secretary during the last days of British rule, and Regina Ip, former Secretary for Security, who was backed by Beijing.

It was dubbed "the battle of the tai tais", referring to the two women's upper class backgrounds.

Chan lobbied for direct elections for not only the chief executive but all legislators by 2012; Ip pushed for democracy too, but only after Beijing had vetted the candidates.

And in the end Chan won a decisive victory -- 175,874 votes over Ip's 137,550. Chan won 54 per cent of the vote.

"It's a great encouragement," Chan said in her speech. "This victory belongs to the Hong Kong people who love democracy."

This win is a big boost to the pro-democracy camp, a collection of groups who have finally put their differences aside and come together as a show of force to the central government.

It also sends a strong signal to Beijing that Hong Kongers want to have a direct say in their government.

"I think that it shows a lot of middle class people in Hong Kong still care about democracy, even though the economy is getting better, the stock market is rising, and the economy is more dependent on China," said Ma Ngok, associate professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. "This is something that Beijing needs to think about."

The ball is now in China's court on how to deal with this latest development in the HKSAR.

So far I haven't seen any reports about it in any of the English-language state media here.

This is a warning shot to Beijing: once people have a stable economy, good livelihoods and have their desired possessions, they will want more -- democracy.

It will come to China. It's only a matter of time.


IheartNY said...

It's interesting that 300K people voted out of 3.06 mm registered voters. Last Canadian election, the turnout was just over 64% according to StatsCan.

Dia Lang Jite said...

Traditionally, historically and statisitically, the longer that people have the power of the vote, the less that they tend to use it. The tragic results of this truism, is that morons like George W. Bush get elected into power.