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Unrest in Mong Kok - A Tale of Radical Nativism
10th February 2016
Politicians should not shy away from condemning violence, but multiple catalysts are at play too

One can easily envisage the endless bickering and partisan conflicts succeeding the unrest in Mong Kok, with its causes, legitimacy and specifics disputed. Without delving into a fight over the terminology of the event, it is essential for us to analyse the causes of the unrest from local and global perspectives, while standing by our outright rejection of violence.

The unrest was not a revolution. Regardless of whether it is legitimate to employ physical force in a revolution, the unrest-goers blatantly employed indiscriminate violence against police officers. Aristotle once defined revolution as ‘the complete change of constitution.’ As a contrast, the unrest lacked concerted efforts in establishing a rational-legal basis, lacked any roadmap in outlining the new political order and, above all, lacked any cross-community popular support, which, to the unrest-goers’ defence, was never a part of their goal. Logical coherency is essential in making a persuasive argument; if the unrest-goers believe it is wrong for a policeman to shoot warning fires due to internal guidelines, they must also believe in the rule of law and the complete rejection of their actions.

Applying game theory, the unrest produces no effect on the profound asymmetry of leverage between nativists, the pan-democrats and the central government, and there is no effect on information asymmetry between political factions. Apart from further pushing the Nash Equilibrium into a more radical fringe with tightened rule, which is detrimental to Hong Kong’s stability and wellbeing. To put it bluntly, the unrest is useless in arguing for a greater degree of political liberties or autonomy for Hong Kong.

One should not be a ‘rioter sympathiser’ for exploring the factors catalysing the unrest. Such discourse is essential in securing a long-term solution for Hong Kong’s political future.

The rise of social rigidity is a culprit leading to the rise of radical nativism in Hong Kong. According to an article published last April in the Hong Kong Economic Journal, intergenerational mobility plunged sharply since the de-industrialisation of Hong Kong. From the 1980s to the 2010s, the correlation coefficient between the parents’ income and the child’s income has risen from around 0.25 to slightly above 0.32. This implies that children from richer families are now at an advantage of 32 instead 25 percentiles compared to their disadvantaged counterparts. Individual inequality also grew when Hong Kong’s tertiary industry took an increasingly dominant share of GDP, Gini coefficient of individual income increased from 0.398 in 1981 to 0.487 in 2011. On the other hand, powerlessness was further aggravated by the lack of political resolution in last year’s occupation, when some then-protestors placed undue expectations on the magnitude of change that the movement might bring. As economic and political mobility dwindled at the time of further integration with the mainland, it is quite convenient for some to vent their frustration on the mainland or, even, mainlanders.

The rise of radical nativism is not unique in Hong Kong. All throughout Europe, nativist and Eurosceptic parties swept through the 2014 European Elections. Be it the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats or the downright racist Jobbik Party of Hungary, their mandates increased substantially, eclipsing moderates; or, in the U.S., where xenophobic candidates such as Trump and Cruz are gaining mainstream appeal.

International phenomena triggering the rise of radical nativism is myriad. Mass disenfranchisement experienced by the economically precocious, trade liberalisation and large-scale migration since the late 70s are universal amongst industrialised economies, including Hong Kong. Without strong integration policies and economic restructuring support in place, the results in these advanced economies are dire: the export of semi-skilled and skilled jobs, a growing wealth gap between the educationally endowed and the general public and clashes due to differences in culture. Even if one treats Samuel Huntington’s ‘Clash of Civilisations’ as a cautionary tale, one should recognise the integration of demographic groups inevitably leads to social friction. Coupled with growing economic disparity, the rhetoric of ‘we versus them’ offered by radical nativism will find more appeal than one’s worst imagination.

To curb radical nativism, political settlement re-enfranchising Hong Kong’s youth must be reached, while economic opportunities yielded from further integration with the mainland must be distributed more evenly.

Xenophobia against Refugees Mars Hong Kong’s
16th January 2016
Xenophobia is on the rise

Do charts tabulating crimes committed by persons of a specific ethnicity resemble a worrying situation?

Maybe. But this exists in Hong Kong too.

These worrying materials have been printed and re-printed by Oriental Daily. The paper - recently on a streak to demonise and vilify people of non-Han ancestry - claims to be ‘safeguarding Hong Kong from “fake refugees”’. Apart from mentioning the racial features of suspects primarily in cases involving people of South East Asian heritage, the paper also campaigns for the withdrawal Hong Kong from the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT).

Political parties do not hesitate to leverage on the fear of refugees. The socially illiberal Liberal Party of Hong Kong – an active supporter of the ‘Deport Refugees Alliance’ – makes hints at supporting measures that place refugees in internment camps, a worrying resemblance of atrocities committed in the 20th century, and cancel all benefits received by refugees. This toxic line of thought highlights the ignorance behind these irresponsible suggestions. Without a living stipend, refugees, who are prohibited from taking up employment in Hong Kong, will have nothing to support themselves. One should be hardly surprised when crimes are aggravated due to the cancellation of benefits.

To alleviate the influx of fraudulent refugees, the solutions are multifold. Apart from simplifying procedures of appeal and ensuring due process to refugees, the government can also allow limited employment of refugees after a set period, reducing the inflow of those intending to claim benefits. However, an informed person should not campaign for Hong Kong’s withdrawal from UNCAT, because denying a fundamental human right will never be the solution to other human rights violation.

In his latest policy address, chief executive C. Y. Leung thanked Oriental Daily, and echoed part of such views, vowing to ‘consider’ withdrawing from UNCAT in certain cases.

He must not attempt to renounce UNCAT. The consequences are too grave.

With over 158 signatories, UNCAT protects the right for an individual to seek refuge in cases of cruelty and torture, which is widely recognised as a universal and inalienable human right. Not only is such right also recognised by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a breakthrough of human progress, this is also protected by the Basic Law. The prohibition of torture is an absolute responsibility of governments, and each individual must be able to enjoy their absolute right to be immune from torture.

He simply cannot renounce UNCAT, not at least without amending the Basic Law.

As a signatory of UNCAT, the People’s Republic of China is unequivocal in protecting refugee’s rights in escaping torture. In Article 39, the Basic Law is clear in pointing out that such international treaty also applies to Hong Kong. Without initiating the procedure of altering the Basic Law, Hong Kong cannot evade its responsibility of protecting fundamental rights of refugees.

He knows he cannot renounce UNCAT. Why would he suggest so?

The contempt demonstrated by certain members of the media and the political establishment on UNCAT and due process exemplifies a more worrying tendency in Hong Kong and beyond – xenophobia against refugees.

What is more convenient in placing blame on those incapable of fighting back regarding questions of crime, of insufficient welfare resources and of almost anything? By diverting attention from the genuine issues affecting the people of Hong Kong, the diverters evade bearing responsibility for their actions and, even in some cases, earn political capital.

We are spending little and lives of refugees are far from comfortable. In fact, less than 0.15% of government expenditure is directly related to refugees, and each refugee can only receive $2700 (2013) for food, housing and transport through the International Social Service (ISS). Up to late 2012, the success rate of non-refoulement claims is only less than 1%.

Compassion is, or, at least should be, one of Hong Kong’s core values. Hong Kongers must unite with our needy peers to fend off xenophobia and preserve our common humanity.

Note: In the article, the term ‘refugees’ is used as a blanket term covering asylum seekers, torture claimants and refugees.

賠率1:200 到英工黨領袖 - 全球浪潮無法擋
科爾賓勝選非一朝一夕 - 香港隱憂漸現

英國工黨選舉結果在香港時間晚上六時半公布,反緊縮左翼候選人科爾賓(Jeremy Corbyn)在首輪投票中取得工黨黨員、工會支持者及附屬支持者共251,417票,以59.5%得票率在4名候選人中勝出,拋離排第二的前大熱伯納姆(Andy Burnham);而被視為貝理雅「中間路線」信徒肯達爾(Liz Kendall)排倒數第一,只獲選民4.5%支持 。

在5月大選落敗後,英國充滿「工黨太左而落敗」的論調,指工黨之所以落敗是因為「比貝理雅、白高敦更左」的文立彬(Ed Miliband)提出引入豪宅稅、提出增加最低工資及比保守黨緊縮計畫較輕微的措施。故此,在黨領袖選舉初期,除科爾賓以外的三位候選人都重拾1997年貝理雅將工黨向右翼傾斜的論調,指工黨必須要透過制定「商界友善」、「中產友善」措施才能夠重新進入政府。



科爾賓的成功,反映全球左右反建制候選人冒起的整體現象。科爾賓爆冷當選、美國桑德斯(Bernie Sanders)在關鍵州份民調開始超越希拉里(Hillary Clinton)、希臘激進左翼聯盟(Syriza)主導政府、德國右翼另類選擇黨(AfD)在區域選舉大捷等事件則可見一斑。建制與基層選民脫節乃全球現象,不論在科技、參政方式上,建制依然堅持上世紀參政方式,抗拒更大程度的科技參與、直接民主與新媒體互動。當建制無法回應基層選民,制度外參政方法、反建制政黨則會自然冒起。

不過,更根本的原因,是在於世界性的反經濟全球化浪潮。皮凱提(Thomas Piketty)及近代財富研究均指出,在20世紀80年代後的成熟經濟體中,財富增長與收入、經濟增長脫鉤,資本積聚以幾何數列形式拋離收入增長,而實質薪資則大致不變;在國際、國內不平等持續增長下,對於社會凝聚力、建制信任及治安均有負面影響。筆者認為,以上因素配合2008年金融危機後,歐美政府的救助方案傾向以貨幣而非就業為操作方向,都會使缺乏經濟機會人士,特別是年輕人,更不信任建制。例如,深受年輕選民支持的桑德斯指責「1%」及華爾街在競爭上「作弊」、使民主變得「腐敗」。自從2000年來,年輕人在全球上流社會階梯的收窄,都使建制政治的吸引力下降。




「良心自由」是不少反立性傾向歧視條例團體的慣用語,他們認為人的「良心」、「思想」自由是絕對並應凌駕大部分法律,例如,明光社 -一個基督教社會保守團體-在2013年指出「宗教團體及基於特定信念成立的會社,有權因為其信仰及倫理觀念,決定...為何人提供服務」及「售賣鮮花給同性戀者的老闆,只因不認同同性婚姻,寧願少做一些生意[不應被視為歧視]」。誠然,良心自由的確是自由社會的基石,也受到公民權利和政治權利國際公約(ICCPR)保障。例如,該條例第18)1條提到:「人人有權享受思想、良心和宗教自由。此項權利包括維持或改變他的宗教或信仰的自由,以及單獨或集體、公開或秘密地以禮拜、戒律、實踐和教義來表明他的宗教或信仰的自由。」

除了公民權利和政治權利國際公約(ICCPR)18)3條提到政府有權在就良心自由施加「對他人的基本權利和自由所必需的限制」,自由主義之父密爾(J. S. Mill)在高舉「個人主權」及個人自由的經典之作《論自由》(On Liberty)中,指社會和政府有權限制「對他人權益有害」(affects prejudicially the intersts of others)的「行為和習慣」。再者,他也提出文明社會只有權在對第三者造成傷害時干涉。後者也就是影響當代政治討論的「傷害原則」(harm principle)。筆者認為,基於以上廣泛受香港人接受的價值,性傾向歧視條例必須訂立。

美國最高法院在60年代Trafficante v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co.一案指出,政府須考慮透過訂立反歧視立法保障以下任何一類人士的平等機會:1.)被歧視歷史 2.)特徵不可易轉變且容易受歧視 3.)缺乏政治權力 4.)整體受歧視。在缺乏性傾向歧視條例之下,性少眾的雇用、消費、居住權利都可被他人任意褫奪。雖然筆者毫無懸念支持性少眾人士權利,但筆者同意性傾向歧視條例用意並非在禁止性少眾面對任何道德批判,而是在一籃子特定的範疇中,保障性傾向不應成為拒絕服務或解僱理由。不過現在香港缺乏社會體制支援性少眾人士在社會階梯上有公平競爭的機會,而首段數據則證明性少眾人士面對的是真實且損害公平競爭的歧視。性少眾歧視限制上流機會,所以立法禁止有關歧視符合密爾的兩項原則。


歧視性少眾並非良心自由的合理應用。基於一個人的性傾向而提供較差的差別待遇,並不是表明擁有信仰的正當方法。故此,性傾向歧視也符合「公開...地以...實踐...教義來表明他的宗教或信仰的自由。」回應明光社有關以「良心自由」拒絕提供商品的言論,其實售賣商品、拍照並不牽涉人的道德判斷或宗教思想,所以以「良心自由」為理由歧視並不成立。美國俄勒岡州2013年Avakian v Klein案中,法官裁定基於性傾向拒絕提供服務「嚴重損害市民進入公眾地方的基本尊嚴」,而宗教思想「並無扮演任何角色」。透過訂立適當的宗教豁免,,例如清真寺、教會、廟宇有權根據教義中對性傾向的描述,而拒絕聘用神職人員。在適當平衡之下,兩者有機會能取得雙贏平衡。

由於公民意識持續提升,不僅止香港的全球保守勢力面對民權意識冒起,轉用例如是「良心自由」的人權語言粉飾公然的歧視及不包容、製造假二分(false dichotomy)。只有當各方認清事實,著手儘快處理性傾向歧視問題,香港才能回歸往日平等機會的獅子山精神。

李偲嫣從寂寂無名到接近人人皆知,不過是近一、兩年的事;相較不少建制、民主兩派的第二,甚至是第一梯隊,李偲嫣的曝光率似乎是與其表面的知識水平及後台支援不成正比。(以Google Trends「鍾樹根」與「李偲嫣」為例,兩者網上曝光率相差過三倍。)為什麼?