Time for Bar Association to embrace political realism

2021-01-26 12:07:54

It is interesting to note that both the former and the new chairman of the Hong Kong Bar Association recently talked about their aspirations for the group to reopen communications with Beijing. However, observers will perceive their aspirations to be insincere — at the very least. Over the past three years under Philip Dykes' leadership, the Bar Association has seen no need for communicating with Beijing, save for chest-thumping. It has been vocal in opposing anything to do with Beijing, including the need for Hong Kong to fulfill its constitutional obligation of enacting legislation according to Article 23 of the Basic Law, the National People's Congress Standing Committee's moves to interpret Basic Law articles to clarify and help settle controversies surrounding Hong Kong's constitutional order and the promulgation of the National Security Law for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. The Bar Association played chicken with Beijing, leveraging its "moral high ground" of "advocating civil rights" and "safeguarding the rule of law". But its "moral high ground" is fake and self-deceiving at best — given that it was silent for months in 2019 when the black-clad rioters went on a violent rampage in the city, trampling on the rule of law as well as the rights of Hong Kong people with abandon. Even worse, it attacked the Hong Kong police for faithfully carrying out their duties to restore law and order and protect the rights of innocent residents. The pronounced "aspirations" for reopening communications with Beijing laid bare the reality that the Bar Association has not been taken seriously by either Beijing or Hong Kong society. But who would take seriously a highly politicized professional group which has been single-mindedly promoting certain ideological ideas or faiths? For any groups or parties to play a role in Hong Kong's socioeconomic and political development, they must recognize and respect China's sovereign powers over the region. The Bar Association's new chairman, Paul Harris, seems yet to realize this political reality when he said the earlier arrest of 55 individuals by the Hong Kong police on suspicion of subversion under the National Security Law is "deliberate intimidation of the democratic movement". Democratic movement has been allowed in Hong Kong since its return to China in 1997; and the democratic development Hong Kong has achieved over the past two decades is not something that could be imagined during the one and half centuries of British colonial rule.