"If we didn't have democracy during 155 years of British rule, why do we need it now?"
Of all the specious arguments being put forward by enemies of democracy in Hong Kong to justify acceptance of China's fake political reform package, this one - which I've seen several times recently - must be the most brainless. It is just idiotic on so many levels - not to mention ironic that the comparison with British rule is being used to bolster the arguments of those who were most opposed to it at the time.
- Britain didn't have full universal suffrage itself for half of those years - it only achieved it in 1928 when the voting qualifications for women (some of whom first got to vote in 1918) were made the same as those for men.
- 155 years ago, nowhere else had true universal suffrage either. Most places in the world didn't have sanitation or universal education, either - should all these omissions be perpetuated indefinitely?
- What does it matter now what Britain did or didn't allow to Hong Kong people? We should be asking what is right for them now, not taking colonial rule as a guide to the future.
- From the 1950s onwards Britain gradually introduced local self-rule in most of its colonies, leading in most cases to full independence. Those few which remain colonies today, such as the Falkland Islands and Gibraltar, freely elect their own local leadership. However, it is generally known that the Chinese government discouraged any such moves in Hong Kong.
- At one time Chinese people were not allowed to live on The Peak. By the same logic, why should they be allowed to do so now?
Ho Tung Gardens, the first Chinese-owned house on The Peak, erected in 1927. Photographed in the 1970s.
What remains of the site today, thanks to an uncaring government with no respect for Hong Kong's historical or architectural heritage.
- And finally, by the same token, if Hong Kong wasn't under Chinese rule for 155 years, why does it need to be now?