We have choices - Audrey Eu's vision on Hong Kong's struggle for democracy
Q: What do you think is the major obstacle for true democracy in HK?
A: I think there are really two sides of it. One is that people in power are never willing to give democracy easily because to a lot of people in power it's addictive. The more power they have, the more they want and they don't want to share it with the people. The other obstacle in many ways is whether Hong Kong people are prepared to sacrifice, are prepared to fight for a share of the power, a share of the wealth.
Q: Some see Hong Kong as one of the freest cities in the world and that Beijing is already making some great concessions. Why are you fighting for democracy now, with controversial civil unrest?
A: Because things change. Don't think that what you are enjoying is given, or that it will continue... So for ordinary people, like you and me, we have no protection other than having a system whereby we are ensured a free and new choice in who would be deciding things like our social policies, our electoral laws, who gets to be our secretaries, what kind of policies they devise. If you don't safeguard "one country, two systems", it will become "one country, one system".
I think Hong Kong people are increasingly aware that if you want your 50 years to remain unchanged, if you want to carry out with your way of life, you want to preserve things, like Cantonese and the way we write our Chinese characters and our culture or even our breathing and living space, you've got to earn it.
Q: The pan-democrats are going to veto the Beijing model and boycott the next round of consultation for the Chief Executive election methods, but some say it will delay the democratic progress in Hong Kong, saying it will probably take another ten years to really have some change in the electoral system. What do you make of it?
A: Ten years is a very long time in politics. You don't know what is going to happen next year, let alone ten years. But
what is on the table is not democracy, it's a pack of lies. What we are told is that that's universal suffrage. And if you accept a lie, there is no going back.
Q: Ms. Rita Fan said that moderate pan-democrats, those who are not at the "frontline", will get a chance to run for the Chief Executive. What do you think about this?
A: I don't think with the communist party, necessarily anyone knows what's going to happen next...Who is going to guarantee the next Chief Executive? So much of it is about political struggle. That's what Hong Kong people don't want to see. Hong Kong people are not interested in political struggle, not interested in political patronage as such. The pan-democrats are really asking for a system where people have equal rights of nomination or fairer rights, even if not equal. We are asking for equal universal suffrage with no unreasonable restriction, people's right to stand for election. It's a system fair for all. It's not a system to ensure that particular pan-democrat to get elected.
Q: Maybe she's suggesting, if you are not that outspoken of certain ideas, then you may stand a chance?
A: Well that's what they always tell the kids. If you are good, you get a candy. Macau has been very good. Do you think Macau has got a lot of candies?
Q: Forgive me for being pessimistic, but China might just crush the opposing opinions. How can you be confident that things could be changed?
A: First of all I think you are quite right in saying that the regime is quite ruthless. It will crack down on anything, anybody that's in their way. I mean that's how autocratic regimes try to stay in power...One must not underestimate the risk and the danger, and maybe even the terror. But I think there will be enough people around in the whole of China and Hong Kong to keep the struggle alive. You never know how long it is going to take but there will always be a choice.
Q: Some arguments suggest that this occupy movement is ruining the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong, or even in mainland China where the economy is blossoming. What do you think about this?
A: I don't think Hong Kong is destroying their whole system. Hong Kong people are not trying to overthrow the Chinese communist government. We really are only asking for real universal suffrage that's been promised to us. This entire argument is on the basis that a totalitarian government is more efficient, can promise you economic development. But really totalitarian government is only for those who want to be slaves, who want to be told what they want to do. Hong Kong people are peace- loving but also would love freedom. And we don't want to be slaves. Even the Chinese national anthem tells us to "rise up, don't be slaves anymore," so I don't think this argument holds much thought of Hong Kong people.
Q: How long will the movement last? The students have been camping here for days and they are not going anywhere. But the government cancelled the open conversation with them. What do you think will be in the near future?
A: I think first of all it's the government who should answer the people what's happening here. The government so far hasn't apologised, hasn't given an inch. That's why people are still camping out here. And I think the protesters have to think about the strategy. Because any democratic movement must get popular support...It's time that we think of conserving our energy and making sure, particularly if you are thinking of a long term fight, that you try not to alienate so many people and try not to affect daily lives of the people as much as possible.
Let my T-shirt do the talking