Hong Kong handover: Citizens want greater say in future plans

Changing lives: In an occasional series, Christine Loh, a leading Hong Kong democrat, reflects on the handover

I went to sleep on 30 June in British Hong Kong, and woke up today in China. The last day of June was also the last day for me as an elected legislator. The impact of what this means is still sinking in.

Frankly, I don't feel any different. I think what I think and politics is still my business. If anything, I want to be more creative in my political work in order to heighten awareness among Hong Kong people that they need to actively participate in politics.

Hong Kong people have never been given the chance to be "citizens" in the true sense of the word. Under British rule, we could not really participate fully in collective decision-making.

Since 1982, when Britain and China first started to negotiate Hong Kong's future, the two sovereign powers both professed to act in our best interest, but in reality, they treated our future as a commodity, something to be bartered, bargained over, managed and exploited. No wonder Hong Kong people feel disempowered!

It would be tragic if in gaining a country we were not gaining that voice in determining our own affairs. We want to have an expanded rather than limited say in charting our own future.

Hong Kong people, like many Asians, are afraid of politics because our history shows that politics has been a nasty business. Good people, like Sun Yat-sen, the father of modern China, died disillusioned. Mao Tse-tung's selfish excesses prevented China from real progress for three decades.

Many people are also put off by politics. They are unhappy with the worst side of the business when politicians from different parties spend more time exchanging insults with each other than in finding solutions to real problems. We must get out of this way of thinking otherwise we will never believe participation and representation are important in public life. We run the danger of continuing to leave important decisions to others whose interests might be very different from our own.

I am told constantly that my wish to bring nobility back to politics is naive. I am told that when power is involved, then there will always be too much vested interest to act from principle.

I think this view is too cynical. I see public decision-making as all other decision-making. Choices must be made all the time. We can all make better choices. To compromise is not necessarily to veer from principle unless decisions are made contrary to the public interest. A compromise should be a win-win decision after all.

Anyway, the majority of Hong Kong folk enjoyed the five days of handover holidays because they could have a longish break first and foremost. For an event billed internationally as the most significant one of the year, Hong Kong people were rather blase.

The official change of sovereignty ceremonies were solemn. Those whose jobs were to "celebrate" worked hard, but ordinary people remained indifferent. I see this as the strength of Hong Kong people. We don't jubilate just because we are supposed to or told to. We don't act excited when we are not. We accept that Hong Kong is now a part of China but we are not prepared to act as if we have no anxieties.

Hong Kong's calm goodbye to Britain and cautious welcome to China is entirely appropriate in view of the fact that we had no voice in determining the chain of events leading to the handover, and our elected representatives are being ejected.

9 Christine Loh is chair of the newly-formed Citizen's Party.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Qualified NVQ Assessors

£19000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Full Stack Software Developer - £80k - Javascript / MEAN

£45000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Ambitious, entrepreneurial busi...

Recruitment Genius: Fitter - Plant / Tool

£20000 - £23500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Fitter is required to join a ...

Recruitment Genius: Sage 200 Consultant

£30000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They have a unique reputation f...

Day In a Page

Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash
I would never quit Labour, says Liz Kendall

I would never quit party, says Liz Kendall

Latest on the Labour leadership contest
Froome seals second Tour de France victory

Never mind Pinot, it’s bubbly for Froome

Second Tour de France victory all but sealed
Oh really? How the 'lowest form of wit' makes people brighter and more creative

The uses of sarcasm

'Lowest form of wit' actually makes people brighter and more creative
A magazine editor with no vanity, and lots of flair

No vanity, but lots of flair

A tribute to the magazine editor Ingrid Sischy
Foraging: How the British rediscovered their taste for chasing after wild food

In praise of foraging

How the British rediscovered their taste for wild food