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
News
newsAnother week, another dress controversy on the internet
Life and Style
Scientist have developed a test which predicts whether you'll live for another ten years
health
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executive - Call Centre Jobs

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - Covent Garden, central London - £45k - £55k

£45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...

Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator - Lancashire - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Support Engineer / Network ...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Developer

£26000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Web Developer is required to ...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn