© LSESU Hong Kong Public Affairs and Social Service Society 2019

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THE FUTURE BLUEPRINT

Hong Kong is entering an unprecedented age of transition. In our city’s long pursuit of democracy, few eras have been as divisive. The continual delay of democratic reform, combined with an alarming increase in frequency and severity of rights violations, has triggered a new wave of political activism.

 

This blueprint for the future lays out how LSESU HKPASS plans to balance political neutrality with activism. More importantly, it explains why it is our responsibility to care, and the vital role overseas students can play in furthering the freedom and prosperity of our beloved city

The role hkpass plays

Our view of democracy

We do not view democracy as the silver bullet to Hong Kong’s woes. In fact we are keenly aware of its deficits around the world. It is merely a tool to create a basic level of legitimacy. We want the ability to punish incompetence and hold political power in check, through electoral and democratic accountability. Only then would quality policy discussions have meaningful impact on policymaking

Why neutrality is vital

Our core aim is to promote discussion on public affairs: this cannot happen effectively without a transparent, unbiased platform. We believe truth can only be found through collision with error, and no defender of rights would compromise the free speech of those with dissenting views. HKPASS is not a campaigning organisation for any specific political party or side, but this does not limit our conscience - we feel obligated to voice out on issues that resonate across the political spectrum.

Balancing neutrality with justice

Our commitment to neutrality includes two components: i) we do not hold an official political stance; ii) we do not exclude any members on the basis of their political orientation. When key issues on social justice arise, we adopt conscientious positions that make no presumptions based on any political stance. For example, when former committee members of our organisation initiated a public petition for further investigation into the attack on Lau Chun-to in 2014, they did not speculate about the culprit but focused on the attack's impact on press freedom, which is valid regardless of the actors involved.

Balancing local issues with an international audience

Our calls for democracy and human rights resonate across borders. There is no reason why, being an ethnic society, we should limit ourselves to an exclusively Hong Kong audience. Leveraging on our privileged position as an overseas student organisation, LSESU HKPASS aims to act as a platform for Hong Kong issues to attract international attention.

Why we should care

It’s our freedom, and it's our democracy

Civil liberties stand at the heart of our ability to live free, self-determined lives. But more importantly, a democratic system makes us far more influential stakeholders in the policymaking process, which has a direct effect on our future prosperity

It’s not just politics. It’s our careers

Hong Kong’s position as an international financial hub is predicated on a transparent legal system. In a service-oriented economy such as ours, it is vital to maintain a safe, regulated environment that foreign investors can trust. The degree to which we protect our sovereignty, our separation of powers, and our fundamental freedoms, will determine the strength of Hong Kong’s economy, and by extension our quality of life.

No other generation’s interests is more intertwined with democratic reform

Born in the vicinity of the handover, Hong Kong's constitutional development will define our lifetime. No other generation will live through these changes as comprehensively as we will.

It's not just democracy

Many divisive campaigns have focused nearly exclusively on the lack of democratic reform. HKPASS believes in the ultimate goal of that reform - legitimate and effective policymaking. This entails as much discussion on policy alternatives as it does on electoral changes

Why activism is not extremism

The fine line between extremism and activism is drawn through i) how well-informed and well-reasoned these actions are; ii) how closely they approximate justice; and iii) how well they respect opposing perspectives. HKPASS calls for non-violent means of promoting legitimate social causes, predicated on comprehensive rational discussion.

Why apathy is not maturity

It is true, in fact vital that we distinguish populism from truth. There are certainly issues which are far from black and white: universal retirement protection is economically controversial, just as the brutal attack on Kevin Lau Chun-to cannot be simplistically dismissed as Communist revenge. But ambiguity in such issues should not be an excuse for apathy. Policies can only be improved, and investigations can only be verified through well-informed, active public discussion.

Why it actually works

Many have refrained from action because they feel powerless. The strength of public dissent lies in its numbers. In the few times campaigns have succeeded, in overturning Article 23, National Education, and others, they have functioned because of widespread outrage. Despite well-developed party machines, both pro-establishment and pan-democratic parties respond to public opinion when they reach a sufficiently large consensus. Every inactive agent weakens the entire movement - it creates a self fulfilling prophecy where we truly become powerless. HKPASS encourages our members to rationally consider the validity of a movement's claims, and engage in those that they resonate with.