Re-arranging the deckchairs
Superficial changes

Counted out

One thing I find slightly strange about (English language) Hong Kong blogs is that you very rarely get anything even approaching controversy, let alone any feuds, between bloggers.  Perhaps this is because there aren't that many of us, and that most people steer clear of politics. 

One exception is Roland Soong's ESWN.  I've mentioned this before (Lost in translation) and he has come under attack again for his habit of offering "expert analysis" in a very partisan way.  A guest contributor at Peking Duck generated a lot of response for his attack on Roland, and Tom Legg has also joined in on his blog.

The concern here is that a casual observer might believe that Roland is offering impartial analysis of the "facts" about how many people took part in a march for democracy, and what it all means.  Roland's technique is normally to question the estimates for the number of marchers, and then conclude that this indicates lack of support for democracy (The Unanswered Question about Hong Kong numbers):

But what is your explanation as to why 5,000 people showed up for the march when public opinion polls showed that 60% of the population are for universal suffrage? If you can solve that puzzle, then you will get 60% of 7 million people = 4.2 million people to march for universal suffrage. How can that sort of people power be stopped?

Clearly Roland is being disingenuous here, as Raj pointed out in his posting at Peking Duck:

It seems like quite an easy answer to me. Hong Kong people have indicated - quite consistently through polls - that they want universal suffrage. However they probably do not believe that protesting about it will make much of a difference. It's all very well that saying getting 4+ million people on the streets "cannot be stopped", but then again when did Hong Kong ever get 4+ million people on the streets? The UK managed much less than that in protests against the war in Iraq (Police said 750,000 - organisers said 2 million), despite the fact we have a population of over 60 million and there was generally a lot of opposition to the war.

I think that's correct, though I'd probably go further and say that Hong Kong people are also quite patient.  They became very frustrated with Tung Chee-Hwa, but are willing to give Donald Tsang a chance.  He knows that he has to do something about democracy, but mass demonstrations won't help him in negotiations with Beijing.  In fact, you only have to look to Taiwan to see that this form of "people power" really doesn't solve anything, and probably makes things worse.  Would Beijing react positively to 4 million people marching?  I can't see it myself. I think there's far more chance of Tsang sorting something out quietly with Beijing, as he has promised to do (Tsang targets 60pc backing for suffrage plan - subscription required):

Hong Kong will adopt a universal suffrage model that has international recognition, Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen has pledged.

Without committing himself on when it could be implemented or what form it would take, Mr Tsang said he would try to forge a proposal that would win the support of 60 per cent of the public. He said Hong Kong people would not accept any proposal for universal suffrage at the expense of the city's prosperity, way of life or relations with the central government, and again called on different political forces to try to reach a compromise.

If he fails, it's possible to imagine another mass demonstration in a few years time, but Roland must know that 1 million would be more than enough to make an impact. 


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