Today [17 June] the pivotal 2017 Election Reform Bill to select Hong Kong’s chief executive is to be tabled for passage by the territory’s Legislative Council.
On Tuesday, 10 youngsters were arrested for allegedly planning to make bombs and smoke grenades to disrupt the proceedings. The police will ring-fence the Legislative Council building and transport the lawmakers in special vehicles. There are rumors (vigorously denied) that riot police will assemble in holding areas below the massive new building in Admiralty where the Legislative Council meets.
Somehow this high drama, telecast before the Legco vote on Beijing’s formula for universal suffrage, failed to raise panic or alarm across much of the citizenry who went about their daily routines unfazed.
According to officers of the Organized Crime & Triad Bureau, the conspirators had downloaded explosives formulas from the internet, acquired chemicals and Guy Fawkes masks. They also allegedly stored a dozen air rifles. The 21-34 year old plotters networked actively on Facebook and emails. They include a post-secondary student, teaching assistant, construction hand, technician plus unspecified others.
Loss of faith and trust
The alleged conspirators were said to have advocated bombing Legco and the China Liaison Office. Both institutions are seen as unwelcome mainland tools by the city’s growing nativist sentiment. Unlike the United Front bombers of 1967 who targeted children and the general public, the 10 nativists clearly identified their institutional villains.
For two decades Beijing has evaded its promise in the Basic Law for Hong Kong to elect its Chief Executive and Legislature through popular mandate. In 2014 the National People’s Congress Standing Committee [NPCSC] set an electoral formula through pre-selection of CE candidates via a stacked electoral college.
The Selection Committee of Beijing-anointed rubber-stampers would pick two or three Chief Executive candidates. The voting public of 5 million could then choose from that line-up. That is the universal suffrage for Hong Kong. The society feels betrayed. They have lost faith and trust in the national and local governments.
Rise of ‘Nativism’
One phenomenon unanticipated by the National government, the China Liaison Office and pro-Beijing partisans in Hong Kong, has been youthful rejection of the entire status-quo. This demographic with little or no experience of British Hong Kong, feels there is no future ahead and is angry that the government has failed to address local livelihood issues of housing, health, education and facilities for the elderly. They do not care what happens on the mainland. They increasingly identify themselves as Hong Kong citizens, not Chinese.