07/03/2007, 00.00
HONG KONG – CHINA
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Only democracy can guarantee a just society, says Cardinal Zen

For the first time ever the bishop of Hong Kong, Card Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, has taken part in the July 1 pro-democracy march in the Territory ten years after it was returned to mainland China. He makes a strong plea to the government and the population as a whole to choose the way of democracy.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – It is “absurd” to prefer a more comfortable lifestyle to democracy because “only democracy can guarantee better living conditions for the people,” said Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, bishop of Hong Kong, at the end of his speech. He spoke before the prayer vigil that preceded the Territory’s great July 1 pro-democracy march.

The prelate took part in the event for the first time ever, which marked the tenth anniversary of Honk Kong’s return to China. According to organisers more than 64,000 people marched demanding Beijing respect the Territory’s constitution and implement universal suffrage.

Here is the text in its entirety:

This morning I took part in the Flag raising ceremony and the following swear-in of the Chief Executive and members of the Executive Council. But yesterday I was not in the mood to participate in the many activities to celebrate the past 10 years. It is O.K. to celebrate the Hand-over of 10 years ago, because Hong Kong belongs to China; but are the ten years since then worth celebrating?

10 years ago while some people welcomed the arrival of 1st July with music and dancing some other people promoted activities of a very different kind. Today, after 10 years we have still to fright in order to obtain what we were supposed to obtain 10 years ago: “to be our own masters”.

The sad reality is that the “one country” can overwhelm the “two systems”, the high degree of autonomy can turn out to be not that high, Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong refers only to a certain species of Hong Kong people, while the others are pushed to the opposition with a huge amount of health energy in the society being wasted.

Yes, these were 10 not very ordinary years. Some may think that I am referring to the financial crisis or to SARS epidemic; no, other events coming from within, man made disasters were much more damaging:

-         the final appeal court’s verdict granting the Right of Abode to children of Hong Kong residents born on mainland was overturned by a reinterpretation of the Basic Law which disregarded the lawful procedure laid down in the Law. Hong Kong people choose to believe in the inverted figure of 1,675,000 persons who would soon invade our city.

-         children without identity card were barred from attending school.

-         public security curtailed the right of the people to protest.

-         the government attempting at suppressing many liberties through the introduction of anti-submersion law (the so called article 23).

-         school sponsory bodies, long time loyal partners of the government in running education, are forced to go to the Court to defend their right of sponsoring schools as is guaranteed by the Basic Law.

-         the Basic Law allows Hong Kong to consider universal suffrage for electing the Chief Executive and the Legislative Council in 2007 and 2008, but this right was denied by an reinterpretation of law and a “decision” by central government in 2004 (our paper protested in its 2/5/04 issue :

We have been ignored.

We have been insulted.

We have been deprived of our rights.

We know how to forgive.

We trust in prayers.

We are patient and will persevere.

We still believe that the vital forces of the “One Country, Two systems” principle will triumph!!)

When a misleading package of constitutional reform was defeated at the legislative council they accused us of, delaying the progress of democracy!

During the hand-over Eucharist ten years ago I said “I hope the political return to the Motherland may bring also a return to our traditional culture”. Looking back now what do we find? The traditional values of decency, justice, honesty and self-respect have given way to a new culture of toadying the powerful and oppressing the weak ones.

Some like to oppose better livelihood to democracy. That is absurd and goes against the experience of the whole world: only democracy can guarantee better living conditions for the people. In Hong Kong, what is the result of the impasse in democracy? A worsening of the gap between the rich and the poor!

St. John in his vision (Apocalypse 5:4) was before a book chained by seven seals, which no one is able to open: the mystery of history. This caused St. John to cry. But then a lamb, who was slain, came to open the book. The death and resurrection of the Lord are the only answer to all problems of history.

This Sunday’s Gospel presents us with Jesus going towards Jerusalem ahead of his disciples to meet his passion and death, the fearful disciples followed Him.

Let us put down our feeling of helplessness, take courage again and carry on the march for democracy, may the Lord show us a more just and peaceful society at the end of the journey.

 

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