Hope for calm as election nears

Editorial | Mary Ma 14 Oct 2019

US President Donald Trump has expressed confidence that Hong Kong demonstrations will take care of themselves after declaring he has reached a partial trade deal with Beijing.

That was probably a most unlikely comment to have come directly from a head of state. However, Trump has always been unconventional and done what his more cultured predecessors would have avoided in the way of public action and speech.

Could the SAR's worst anti-government protests be at a turning point? While they might have been, that is no longer the case, not with the wounding of a policeman in the neck in Kwun Tong MTR station last night as thousands protested in different locations across the city.

I don't think Hong Kong is important enough for Trump to monitor our situation closely. However, since he is used to acting on instinct in clutching at political opportunities, there may be a grain of truth in those comments, which he made while receiving vice-premier Liu He in the Oval Office.

So, I'm not surprised in the least by Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, the owner of pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily, calling on protesters to review their strategy to lock in the support.

As I've said before, any political reform has to begin from within, and it is unrealistic to expect someone like Trump to finish the job for others.

A key upcoming event will be the district council elections on November 24. Although the general prediction is for the opposition to win a landslide victory due to widespread discontent with the establishment and Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, the shedding of a police officer's blood could tilt bring a little more balance back in play.

Pro-establishment worries that they would lose out in the poll are well founded for reasons they should be aware of.

But it would downright dangerous for them to think they could save themselves from a poll bombshell by putting pressure on the government to cancel the election, as it will backfire on them spectacularly.

As constitutional and mainland affairs secretary Patrick Nip Tak-kuen clarified earlier, an alternative election will have to be held within 14 days even if the November 24 poll is canceled. That makes it impossible for voters to change their minds in such a short time - except in the event of a bloodbath that only the worst radical would want.

The situation is getting extremely complicated as the clock ticks down to the election.

With the slashing of the police officer in Kwun Tong, will an already explosive situation escalate even more to cause more injuries - or, even worse, deaths - to plunge Hong Kong into a new hell after signs emerged that the crisis rocking the city for more than four months could be heading for an end in light of Trump's remarks?

In hindsight, the crisis might have already passed the turning point on October 1 were it not for yesterday's bloody incident.

Perhaps some people want Lam to use her emergency powers to cancel the district council election altogether, even though that would spell disaster for the SAR.

Hong Kong as a community needs to step back from the brink and the healing process must be given every chance of starting as soon as possible in order not to give saboteurs any chance of sending us down a path none of us want - a political minefield.

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