Rear Window | Squaring the circle

Severo Portela

Hong Kong is apparently at its direst crossroads, stranded between Beijing’s resolve to restore order in the SAR and the symbolic strength Hongkonger foot protesters still manage to put up to defend the legitimacy of the demands brought up by the – allow us the simplification – 2 million.
Given the last standing Beijing took to square the Hong Kong situation, one could be tempted not to vouch, rather not bet, for an unhappy ending to Hong Kong. Discredited or not, the police will do the sweeping job.
People´s Daily was adamant to summarize the situation: no room for compromise with protesters. We do take note…with the “protesters”.
Moreover, the Communist Party reference paper states that the ongoing situation is a struggle between (those) safeguarding the “One country, Two systems” and (those) destroying it by means of unlawful behavior. Formally, just formally, the 2 million are claiming that the root of the situation is precisely the betrayal they call erosion of the “One country, Two systems”.
This is the crux of the matter. From which Hong Kong government has been deaf to a point that Hongkongers feeling threatened had to resort to public demonstrations. Obviously, the leitmotiv picked up to go down to the streets was one of present and current affairs, as it was the famous extradition bill- the last drop, the tipping point, the 2 million accuse, on a long-lasting challenge to the rule of law granted by the Basic Law. Hongkongers kept their grievances as closed game, so that a dialogue over other issues than the extradition bill of the day might occur with Carrie Lam and her government.
What did the Chief Executive do? Nothing…kept her cool, patiently waited the demonstrations to fade away, and even had the phlegm to be delighted with 2 million protesters enjoying the right to protest. Carrie Lam played a wicked game of now that you have relieved your worries go home or else. From then on it has been a roller-coaster of events and challenges to the high degree of autonomy and the rule of law. Just to illustrate, we highlight the anti-mask imbroglio, and the apparent call to convey the Judiciary to the task of containing the social unrest. Despite the gloomy tone, it is appropriate to quote NYTimes: “Once the city´s pride, the rule of law cannot survive under the pressure of a government that does not respect fair play, freedom and democracy”.
It is no use shedding crocodile tears about the disturbance and havoc brought about by protesters. This is a secondary issue, being used as a demagogic and divisive tool to split people around violence, so by-passing the real issue: is there or not erosion of the Basic Law and the high degree of autonomy?
Nevertheless, we believe there is room for a kind of accommodation between the China clout and the Hong Kong way of life. A kind of accommodation between the continental law and the rule law. We foot this optimism on the size of the Hong Kong financial sector and services and the glue only the rule of law can provide to its health and wealth.
The accommodation is difficult but not impossible.
Final notes to a book by Paulo Cardinal, a Macau constitutional law expert: “Lessons on Legislative Procedure in Macau Parliamentary Law”. An insider view on the erosion of the Legislative Assembly role. To the 8th International Forum on Clean Energy – the supply of nuclear energy accounts for 90% of Macau electricity.
And time for trivia. Women´s General Association of Macau is organizing a mock election event to elect a symbolic “child Chief Executive”. Speechless.

Categories Opinion