“One Country, One System”, A Sad Appraisal of the Changing Picture of Democracy in Hong Kong, and a Cry for Hope


An Interview with Albert Ho

Albert Ho, a lawmaker in Hong Kong, and former chairman of the Democratic Party from 2006 to 2012, is working hard on democratizing China, especially focusing on revealing the truth regarding the Tiananmen Square massacre by opening the Tiananmen Square Museum. But this museum will be closed by September due to a legal dispute. However, this remains the only museum in which Chinese visitors can expose themselves to the truth about the Tiananmen Square Massacre. We asked Albert Ho, the current chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, about the reasons why he continues to work on the democratizing movement in China.


Keeping Democracy Alive

Q: Why are you continuing to work on “The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of the Patriotic Democratic Movement in China”?

Albert Ho: This is already the 27th Anniversary of the June 4th Massacre. Throughout the last 26 years, the Hong Kong people have stood firm to save truth to power. Mainly we continue to protest against the June 4th Massacre. We continue to uphold justice, and fight for the vindication of the 1989 democracy movement. Last year, there had been massive arrests of lawyers and legal activists. We feel very strongly against this, and so all the more we should stand together, stand united, to fight for democracy in China, to fight for the interests of those who have been victimized by brutal oppression of the government.

Now I think Hong Kong people have persevered in the past many years. We have faced many difficulties. We have faced many obstacles, but still I think particularly in this unique space in Hong Kong where we still enjoy freedom, we should continue to stand up to manifest this symbol of the conscience of the Chinese people.


Remembering Tiananmen Square

Q: During the Tiananmen Square incident, the death toll is officially reported as 300. Do you think it’s true?

Albert Ho: There have been a lot of estimations by different bodies. I have seen some international NGO’s giving estimates of about 7,000, OK? And of course, the official figure announced shortly after the Tiananmen incident was 23, OK. So, you know up to now, there has not been a full-scale, open investigation into the matter. That is precisely what we have continued to call for, namely there must be an independent investigation into the matter, and we should call for accountability of those people who made the order of killing and shooting ordinary people.

But unfortunately now, the Chinese authorities have shied away from this incident. They tried to ask people to forget this incident instead of blaming everybody, instead of trying to continue to accuse that this was a counter-revolutionary, subversion by the people. So, they are scared. They are frightened of knowing the truth or allowing the people to know the truth.

But I think one day the truth will come out because the truth is buried in the collective memory of the people, OK. The people are still alive; many of them are still alive in Beijing. And in all the other places, you know there are people who have eye-witnessed the incidents. So I think one day when there is sufficient freedom to allow the people to speak, then you know the stories will come out, we will reconstruct the event, and then we will know the true figures, but even now in Hong Kong we should speak out, we should try to protect the collective memories of the people, and we will not allow this to be forgotten.


Persecution and Abduction By Order of Mainland China

Q: Recently booksellers were abducted from Hong Kong bookstores. Do you think the operations from Mainland China are increasing?

Albert Ho: I think the Lee Bo incident has been most alarming and threatening to the Hong Kong people. Obviously, you know some people have been sought to carry out orders from the puppet security officials in Beijing by abducting some people from Hong Kong, and forcing them to go back to the Mainland to face investigation or even possibly prosecution. And obviously Lee Bo, apart from having to face investigation, was also forced to render assistance to enable persecution in the pursuit against other people.

No doubt, Lee Bo has been overwhelmed by fear. He was not speaking from his heart with respect to Hong Kong. Nobody really believed that he was actually free to speak the truth. And it’s just you know…people would understand it, would appreciate that he was still subdued under a lot of pressure, and after all, at the time when he was interviewed in Hong Kong, his wife was still in the mainland, OK.

So, I think what really happened to Lee Bo according to factual information, which has not been contradicted, there is no doubt in the minds of Hong Kong people that Lee Bo was abducted, was kidnapped by people, and brought back to China by force. And that action, that is, the kidnapping action, must have been done according to instructions from the Mainland officials. I think it’s very simple. I think people would believe that this is the truth.


Was Political Motivation Behind the Closing of the June 4th Museum?

Cho: I heard that the June 4th Museum is going to be closed due to the litigation instituted by the building owners. When did you get word about the lawsuit from these owners and do you think they were politically motivated?

Albert Ho: Yes, no…they started to give us a lot of trouble. It seems we moved in and started the Museum. Okay? They said that they were very much annoyed by so many visitors, and that the number of visitors has caused nuisance to the other owners, and then subsequently, I think, they started to find legal grounds to challenge the use of the premises as a museum. They accused us of pushing the fire regulations by having so many people in the premises, and that the staircase is so narrow, and they also said that certain licenses should be obtained because the Museum is also a public entertainment – so all these sorts of things. They set up the whole thing, and eventually they said that that place should not be allowed for exhibition, knowing that the scale of the Museum is very small. This is not a Mitsubishi exhibition center. So they started litigation and this owner apparently has a lot of money to fund the action. He told the other owners, or he assured the other owners, that he would be paying for all the legal expenses, so that the other co-owners do not have to contribute. Okay. So they started the action and then we were trapped in this protracted action. They spent a lot of money. They used a very expensive barrister to fight the case and we anticipate that no matter the result they are going to take the case to appeal until the final Court.


Q: So where did they get the money.

Albert Ho: Now I don’t know. He appeared to be able to pay all this money; he appeared to be rich, although this is not a well-known person, but we have every reason to think that maybe he was supported by some other people. So for this reason, you know, we can suspect that he may be politically motivated, and then, maybe, some people just fund him for political purposes in order to drive of us out of the building, that is to close down the Museum.

Now apart from the legal action, they also introduced a lot of management regulations requiring each visitor to produce their identification document before they can use the lift to go upstairs to use the Museum.


Q: That’s a very terrifying condition to enter.

Albert Ho: Ok, yes. So many Mainlanders were afraid, so they just turn away.


Q: Oh yes, of course.

Albert Ho: So initially the ratio was 50/50. We had 50% from the Mainland and 50% from Hong Kong and overseas. This is the first year. But the second year, up to now, the ratio is now changed to 30/70, and the 30 is visitors from the Mainland, and 70 is Hong Kong and overseas.

Q: Are you going to reopen the Museum in the future?

Albert Ho: Yes. Yes, we will. We announced a plan to sell the premises. To sell the premises and then we hope we can raise more funds and find another suitable premises. We are looking for premises on the lower floor of a commercial complex, such that visitors do not have to use the lift. And then we will not be subject to stringent fire regulations. Okay. So we are doing that. We intend to sell the premises.


Continuing the Fight for Freedom

Q: How do you keep Hong Kong free from now on?

Albert Ho: Well, I think people should stand firm again to continue to say no, continue to watch the government. I think this incident, when there have been so many voices, not from Hong Kong, but from all over the world, saying that you know the Chinese Mainland government were doing too much. They were simply doing something that had deeply hurt the confidence of “One Country, Two Systems”. They have certainly trespassed into the arena of Hong Kong’s economy.

So, no doubt Beijing must be taken to task, not only in Hong Kong by Hong Kong people, but also in places outside Hong Kong like the European Union, like you know some other governments. So I think the people really are supporting Hong Kong. That is something we, you know, really need in order to enable and continue to sustain the high degree of economy and to continue to protect the freedom, the liberty which we all treasure.

“One Country, One System”, A Sad Appraisal of the Changing Picture of  Democracy in Hong Kong, and a Cry for Hope
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