◎ 金 鐘
（ 2007 年 3 月 2 日開放雜誌）
Leong's Campaign and the Parliamentary Way
By Jin Zhong
Just before we wrapped up this issue, it was confirmed that Hong Kong will make history by holding its first public debate between candidates for the office of Chief Executive (CE) with live TV coverage. But as we all know, although this represents a progress in the way the election is held, and will enhance the ability of Hong Kong democrats to participate in politics, this new ingredient will not change the result of the “small-circle” election controlled by Beijing. Therefore, we need not take a stand on who wins or loses the debate between the incumbent Donald Tsang Yam-kuen and his challenger Alan Leong Kah-kit, who represents the democrats. What is more interesting is the symbolic meaning of the TV debate itself. Looking back to the first CE election, there were eight candidates, giving us an atmosphere of competition. But the second election was reduced to a single candidate, a typical mainland Chinese practice. Only the incumbent Tung Chee-hwa sought re-election. Why? People saw through the nature of a “monopolized” election, and simply wanted nothing to do with it.
In the last two years, since Hong Kong people have fought for universal suffrage starting in 2007/2008, and the middle-class Civic Party has been established and shown real potential for growth, the democrats have finally agreed to back a senior barrister for the candidacy. With the endorsement of 132 electoral committee members, Mr. Leong has succeeded in gaining a nomination. In comparison with the previous situation, in which the democrats lacked either the interest or the ability to participate in this small-circle game, Leong's candidacy is undoubtedly a compromise the democrats have made in countering a system heavily controlled by Beijing. Leong's platform by-passes the earlier demand for universal suffrage in 2007/08, and calls for such rights starting in 2012 instead. This represents a pragmatic change in strategy for the Hong Kong democrats' fight for democracy. While taking into account the current relationship between China and Hong Kong, this change is also based on the principle of gradual democratization. Compromise is not only a means of manipulating power. As China scholar Hu Shi put it long ago, “Tolerance is more important than freedom.” Compromise is fundamental to the spirit of democracy. As we all know, when dealing with differences and confrontations in the democratic process, mature democratic societies in the West all exhibit tolerance and comprise. This is exactly the difference between democracy and violent revolution, and is why this choice made by Hong Kong's democrats has been widely acceptance by the public.
Hong Kong is a highly modernized commercial society, with little likelihood of embracing radical social change. Its inevitable embrace of tolerance recalls the fierce debate among thinkers of the last century. Although thoughts of revolution gained an upper hand from Russia to China, calls for a peaceful and reformist “parliamentary road” continued in the international communist movement. After the failure of Stalin's tyranny, the fact that the 20 th plenum of the Soviet Communist Party unequivocally raised the banner of a series of new propositions such as “peaceful transition” and “parliamentary road” showed attempts to flow with the progressive tide of the post-war world. Only Mao Zedong swam against this tide. He started with a campaign against so-called “revisionism” and ended up with the catastrophe of the Cultural Revolution. From the reflections of former Party chief Zhao Ziyang in captivity (see last month's editorial), one can see that open-minded Party members have already rejected dictatorship in favor of parliamentary democracy.
The people of Hong Kong understand that there will be no true democracy in Hong Kong without democracy on the mainland. Now more and more people in China are embracing constitutional democracy. From the attempts to form alternative parties in 1998 to today's rights defense movement, all efforts by ordinary citizens have been based on the concept of the constitution as the bottom line. However, in the eyes of the Communist Party, any aspiration toward compromise is a challenge to its monopoly on power. This undermines the very foundation of the necessary prerequisite to political compromise. Democrats on Hong Kong will have to temporarily abandon the illusion that the Communist authorities will lift their ban on alternative political parties, as has been done in Taiwan. They will have to return to the road adopted by 19 th century western European workers who fought for socialism: win seats and join the parliament.
(Open Magazine, March 2, 2007)