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KT Edit: Hong Kong needs to heal, enough of brinkmanship

Filed on November 25, 2019 | Last updated on November 25, 2019 at 09.03 pm

The power of the ballot has redeemed Hong Kong's protests while sending a message to China for more autonomy. Civil unrest in the territory has been raging since June and normal life has been disrupted with people demonstrating in large numbers and Beijing watching silently but not directly intervening to quell the strife. But on Sunday, the people of Hong Kong organised themselves and struck with their votes - for democracy at the grassroots. The district council election results could be a turning point for Hong Kong if Beijing cares to listen to its angst. Pro-democracy candidates wrested 90 per cent of the seats in a show of popular might. They had their say through the silent act of voting that will resonate politically on the mainland too. Will China grip loosen its grip or allow these developments to run their course? No one will wager to predict what will happen in the long term but it is clear that the masses are opposed to chief executive Carrie Lam's policies despite what Beijing thinks of her as an administrator. Hong Kongers had galvanised themselves for autonomy from mainland China at the start of the demonstrations.

Now it appears that they want it all - nothing short of freedom and full democracy to chart their destiny. How they will get it is anybody's guess but there is increasing frustration about China's role in the territory's affairs and Beijing's support for the embattled Lam. These election results will have no bearing on Lam's tenure which is expected to last till 2022, but they are a major blow, an electoral hammering; an indication of which way the political wind is blowing in the territory. It is the people versus the ruling elites who are unwilling to let power slip through their fingers knowing that China has their back. Lam said her government accepts the election results. An embarrassment that she can live with but a middle ground must be found to put Hong Kong's economy on its feet again. A dialogue process must begin without delay to bring healing to the territory. Reconciliation is key and pro-democracy protestors and the administration should come together and frame policies that meet the aspirations of the people. This is no time for brinkmanship.


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