A political problem needs a political solution — to quell the protests

Five months of protests and no solutions on the table can only mean that this government doesn’t know what it is dealing with.

Shameel Ibrahim
Nov 15, 2019 · 3 min read
Photo: Getty Images/TNS

Hong Kong enters its 24th week of protests, (rather is going to enter its 25th week) ever since protests started against a controversial extradition bill back in June.

The problem and the solution were clear back then: The problem was that extradition bill was controversial because it included Mainland China as a jurisdiction for transferring fugitives and that was a problem because it had a questionable record on granting fair trials and that it may use the law as an excuse to imprison anyone with conflicting political views. The solution was simple: withdraw the bill.

Between the beginning of the protests and now, the government has opened a Pandora’s box of problems which lead to protestors adding five more demands including an independent inquiry on police brutality, granting amnesty to protestors, implementing universal suffrage, and withdrawing the “riot” characterisation of protestors and nonetheless, withdrawing the bill itself.

The Chinese government was quick to say that this protested were of foreign interference, after citing protestors waving US flags during protests, meanwhile, the Hong Kong government had nothing important to say rather than kowtowing to Beijing’s view.

A few weeks on Beijing shifted the narrative, saying that Hong Kong’s housing problem is the reason behind the social unrest and started taking measures to ‘solve’ it, making New World Development donate a few acres of land to ‘solve’ the long-standing problem of housing.

Recently, a report from the Weiboscope HKU revealed that China had been engaged in propaganda, claiming that Hong Kong wants independence, when there were no claims of any sort during the protests, although there have been calls for independence by the Hong Kong National Party, which was banned on September 2018, certainly it was not the focal point of the protest.

China’s response to the protests has been confrontational when Chinese president Xi Jinping, echoed the narrative of independence saying that those advocating for independence for Hong Kong would end up being “crushed bodies and shattered bones ” on his visit to Nepal.

These events clearly show that China is paranoid about Hong Kong’s independence when the notion itself is not on the agenda.

Xi Jinping has also congratulated Chief Executive Carrie Lam for managing Hong Kong’s protests, citing that he has a “high degree of trust” on her handling of the city’s protests, when she, nor China had any viable political solution to quell the protests for the past 5 months.

Carrie Lam’s long-expected no-confidence dialogue had come after three months in September to a select 150 people and questions picked at random, which had no significant solutions, while protestors demanded Carrie Lam to come out publicly to have a dialogue.

One week after the dialogue, she enacted the anti-mask law under the Emergency Regulations Ordinance which is a law dating back to 1922 and was last used to control the 1966 riots, further enraging protestors and making the already tense situation even more serious.

What they should be doing is to solve the problem through genuine dialogue as it was the government’s mistake to bring the controversial law. Although the bill is withdrawn now, the political impasse has opened a can of worms that Carrie Lam is forced to face and needs to solve.

The major demand, among the five demands, is an independent inquiry into police brutality, according to a poll conducted by Ming Pao. If Carrie Lam wants to take the first step toward solving the 5-month protests, she should start with fulfilling this demand.

If she continues mocking protestors’ demands, it would infuriate protestors and it would not help end the protests. What Carrie Lam should do, is to regain the trust of the people, not Beijing if she wants to rule Hong Kong.

If Xi Jinping continues his hardheadedness, then it would yield disastrous results from an already disastrous situation.

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