Letter: Cook denies Hong Kong `snub'

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The Independent Online
Sir: Steve Crawshaw' s report from Hong Kong ("Democrats' leader left out in the cold", 26 June) is a lurid distortion of the truth.

The Prime Minister and I each had long meetings with Martin Lee in London only three weeks ago.

I have agreed that the only Hong Kong elected politicians invited to dinner on Britannia this Saturday will be Martin Lee and two other prominent Hong Kong democrats. I look forward to talking to him again then.

To describe this as a snub is to stand normal usage on its head.

ROBIN COOK MP

Secretary of State

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

London SW1

Sir: On 17 June, the Governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten, remarked that Hong Kong would be the first example of a colony becoming less democratic after the end of colonial rule than before.

I'm sure that there are several examples to prove him wrong but one that springs to mind is the former Dutch possession of West New Guinea.

In February 1961, the people elected a National Council which then voted to rename the territory West Papua. They also chose a flag and national anthem in the full hope that the Dutch would honour their pledge to allow the people the right to self-determination.

A little over a year later that promise was broken and the territory and its people were handed over to the Indonesian dictatorship of Sukarno. Indonesia's first act was to round up a crowd of 10,000 Papuans to watch a bonfire of West Papuan flags and other items relating to their national identity, then the elected West New Guinea Council was disbanded and replaced by an Indonesian appointed regional assembly with none of the original council members included in it. Any other political activity such as rallies, meetings or the distribution of political material was banned.

Thirty years later the West Papuans are still being denied their democratic rights.

I sincerely hope that Hong Kong fares better.

JOHN SALTFORD

Manchester

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