Taiwan president says not ‘using’ HK protests for election

12-Dec-2019 Intellasia | Reuters | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said on Tuesday that she was not “using” the anti-government protests in Hong Kong for electoral purposes, following criticism from her main opponent in next month’s presidential vote and from a Hong Kong student leader.

The protests in the Chinese-controlled city have been widely covered in democratic Taiwan, which China claims as its sacred territory, and are frequently mentioned by Tsai and her ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) on the campaign trail as a warning on the potential dangers Taiwan faces from China.

Writing on his Facebook page over the weekend, Keith Fong, president of the Hong Kong Baptist University Students’ Union, said the DPP only verbally supported the protests and had not enacted specific laws to support the protesters.

People would inevitably suspect that the DPP “only wants to exchange Hongkonger’s sacrifices for Taiwanese people’s votes”, he added.

Tsai’s main opponent in the January 11 presidential election, Han Kuo-yu from the Kuomintang party which favours close ties with China, wrote on his Facebook page on Tuesday that Tsai was using Hong Kong as a “tool” for votes.

Speaking to reporters later on Tuesday, Tsai said that Taiwan had always had a supportive attitude toward the people of Hong Kong taking to the streets to fight for democracy.

What is happening in Hong Kong has also put the people of Taiwan on alert and made them think that the freedom and democratic values Taiwan has must be protected with even greater strength, she added.

“Therefore, when they watch and listen to all the politicians, they pay special attention to the views and determination of these politicians or candidates on these issues,” Tsai said.

“So I do not think we are using Hong Kong people to conduct the election; rather it is a process of self-vigilance by the people of Taiwan after what has happened in Hong Kong.”

Taiwan currently has no law on refugees which could be applied to Hong Kong protesters who may seek asylum on the island though its laws promise to help Hong Kong citizens whose safety and liberty are threatened for political reasons.


Experts quit HK police probe, in blow to government

12/Dec/2019 Intellasia| AFP

An international panel of experts hired to advise Hong Kong on the police response to huge pro-democracy protests announced Wednesday they were quitting, saying the watchdog was not fit for purpose “in a society that values freedoms and rights”.

The group’s damning conclusion is a blow to Hong Kong’s government, which has insisted its Independent Police Complaints Commission is capable of holding the force to account over snowballing claims of brutality.

“We ultimately concluded that a crucial shortfall was evident in the powers, capacity and independent investigative capability of IPCC,” the experts said.

Critics have long charged the body lacks adequate powers, is stacked with pro-establishment figures and has been toothless when it comes to keeping the police in line.

The watchdog can only handle complaints forwarded by the police themselves and it cannot subpoena documents or compel witnesses to testify.

Such limitations, the expert panel said, do not “begin to meet the standards citizens of Hong Kong would likely require of a police watchdog operating in a society that values freedoms and rights”.

Protests have rocked Hong Kong for more than six months, with up to two million people taking to the streets, initially against a now-shelved extradition bill.

Latterly, one of the core demands of protestersalongside fully free electionshas been an inquiry into the police, who have been left to battle increasingly violent black-clad activists and are now loathed by significant chunks of the deeply polarised population.

But both chief executive Carrie Lam and the police have repeatedly rejected those calls.

Pro-democracy lawmaker Tanya Chan described the resignation of the expert group as a “vote of no confidence” in the IPCC and the interim report it is expected to produce next year.

Political scientist Ma Ngok said the panel’s decision confirmed Hong Kong people’s doubts on the IPCC’s ability to find the truth.

“The government’s strategy of making the report independent by having a panel of overseas experts has failed,” Ngok told AFP.

Public row

The panel was announced in September and was chaired by Sir Dennis O’Connor, who was tasked by the British government to write a report on the police after the 2011 London riots.

It included current or former police watchdog chiefs from Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and a British specialist on crowd behaviour.

A month ago, a leaked statement from the group revealed they felt the police watchdog was not equipped to carry out a proper investigation, and suggested a fully independent inquiry would be better suited.

But their frank assessment was not welcomed by Anthony Neoh, the IPCC’s head.

He gave an interview to a mainland Chinese media outlet rebuking the panel, saying they “do not understand Hong Kong’s situation”.

On Sunday, an estimated 800,000 people marched peacefully through the city’s streets in a movement that has become a popular revolt against Beijing’s authoritarian rule.

The last three weeks have seen a rare lull in the violence and vandalism after pro-democracy parties won a landslide in local council elections.

“Do not waste time, and please grab this golden opportunity to persuade Beijing… to support an independent commission of inquiry,” lawmaker Chan added.

An end to violence is something Lam has insisted must be a precursor to meaningful dialogue.

But she has shown no sign she is willing to budge, leading to fears clashes could resume.

In her weekly press conference on Tuesday she dismissed protesters’ demands once more as she announced plans to go to Beijing this weekend where she is expected to meet with Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

China has publicly thrown its support behind both Lam and the city’s police, even as their approval ratings take a hammering.



Category: Hong Kong

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