1 July 1997
THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF HONG KONG: JULY FIRST DECLARATION
Speech from the Legislative Council Balcony by Democratic Party Chairman
Martin Lee Chu-ming
As we approach the end of the 20th Century, the world community can
take pride that more people in more countries are more free than ever before.
But as the world is marching towards democracy, human rights and the rule
of law, Hong Kong is losing some of the very freedoms which have made our
society so successful.
Today, the whole world is witnessing the return of Hong Kong to our
country, China. This is a glorious day for all Chinese people everywhere.
For we are leaving behind the legacy of more than 150 years of British
colonial rule and begin a new era for Hong Kong as part of China.
The members of my party, the Democratic Party, were among the first
to support China's resumption of sovereignty over Hong Kong. We therefore
fully uphold the 1984 Joint Declaration and its guarantees of "one
country, two systems" and "Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong
with a high degree of autonomy". In the spirit of mutual understanding
and cooperation, we intend to work with China to ensure the success of
Hong Kong and China.
But the Joint Declaration promises that we will have an elected legislature
and that our freedoms will continue under the rule of law. In supporting
the Joint Declaration, we insist that all the promises made in 1984 be
honoured and in full. So we are here today to voice the determination of
the people of Hong Kong who elected us in 1995 for a 4-year term to keep
our democratic institutions, rule of law and freedoms.
Hong Kong and China have much to offer each other. We want to work together
to make "one country, two systems" a reality. But Hong Kong and
China must advance together -- not step back together.
We are Chinese. We are proud to be Chinese and that Hong Kong is no
longer ruled by Britain. But we ask ourselves this question: why must we
pay such a high price to become Chinese again?
Why should we not be able to form associations or to demonstrate as
freely as before? Why should we lose the most important safeguards of our
Bill of Rights? Why should we lose the modest amount of democracy we fought
so hard for and won from the British government?
Since 1990, Hong Kong people have been able to participate in democratic
elections. Democracy has taken root and flourished here in Hong Kong. Over
one million people elected the members of our legislature which is disbanded
today. We ask our Chinese rulers to give Hong Kong more democracy, not
less, now that we are re-united with our motherland.
"One country, two systems" is a brave experiment. It requires
full understanding on the part of our Chinese leaders and mutual trust,
which has yet to be established.
But the Beijing leaders cannot win the trust of the people of Hong Kong
by rejecting a legislature elected by Hong Kong citizens and replacing
it with a China-appointed one. Or by rolling back individual freedoms and
our Bill of Rights. Or by striking down other laws that have the support
of our people. The way to win the hearts and minds of Hong Kong people
is to give more democracy -- not to stifle it. Elections have ensured stability
in Hong Kong; they have protected our freedoms and underpinned our economic
success. In order to preserve the rule of law, we must not only have an
independent judiciary -- but good laws. To have good laws, we must have
democratic elections to guarantee that our legislature is accountable to
us, the people. We had an elected legislature. But from today on, we have
an appointed Provisional Legislature, accountable only to Beijing.
The appointed legislature which is being sworn in later this morning
is doing its best to change the electoral laws to make it difficult for
us to continue winning elections. But they will be disappointed. For though
they can physically take over this building for sometime, they cannot keep
us out of the legislature forever. For we know we have the confidence and
support of our people, who -- when given the chance -- will vote us back
into this building once again.
We believe that people everywhere share our love of freedom and democracy
and that these values will ultimately triumph -- not only in Hong Kong
-- but across Asia and the world. And we know that as elected leaders we
have the heaviest responsibility to ensure that Hong Kong remains free.
Hong Kong is known as the "Pearl of the Orient." But what
is it that gives the pearl its great lustre? It is freedom. Freedom exercised
to the full by our people and guaranteed by the rule of law. If our freedom
is taken away, the Pearl will lose its lustre and indeed its value to China
and the world.
The international community expects China to honour her promises to
the UN and to Hong Kong people. In the eyes of the world, we call on the
Chinese government to allow free, fair and democratic elections in Hong
We announce our party's intention to stay in Hong Kong. We are prepared
to defend the freedoms we cherish. And we are prepared to work with China
to build a better future for Hong Kong and for China. We pledge to continue
to be the voice of the Hong Kong people -- in or out of office -- and to
fight to get democracy back.
As we stand here this early morning in democratic solidarity, we declare
that Hong Kong people want democracy -- they have seen it work. The flame
of democracy has been ignited and is burning in the hearts of our people.
It will not be extinguished. Nay, it will only grow stronger. We say to
those of you gathered here and to Hong Kong's friends around the world:
WE SHALL RETURN!
Today, China is a big country. But our vision is that one day soon China
will be a truly great nation -- where the human rights of every Chinese
citizen are respected and protected by law.