Hong Kongers march in a pro-democracy demonstration in June 2012.
Almost half of the 1,000 residents polled by the Hong Kong Institute of Education in March said that maintaining public order is more important to them than democracy, while just a third said democracy is the more important value.
On Thursday, pro-democracy activists said that in asking respondents to weigh the importance of public order against other values, including democracy and freedom of speech, the survey was fundamentally flawed.
“Certainly you don’t want people to have to choose between public order and democracy,” said Joseph Cheng, convener of the recently formed Alliance for True Democracy, a group of pan-democratic legislators advocating universal suffrage in 2017.
The survey sounds like it could have been written by the CPC, echoing their oft repeated (and unoriginal) claims that democracy in China would devolve into chaos. Democracy and order are not in opposition to each other, and asking people to pick one or the other, especially when they’ve never experienced one of them, is absurd.
The survey seems timed to put a dampener on a campaign by pro-democracy activists to shut down the city’s central financial district via civil disobedience next year if the government fails to support “genuine” universal suffrage. There is also the anniversary of a certain pro-democracy “incident” early next month.
Pro-Beijing paper Ta Kung Pao recently published an editorial that said such a movement would “destroy Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability.”
“Hong Kong has always been a society of law, and its people have advocated and protected this fine tradition,” the editorial said. “As a key factor that’s allowed Hong Kong to flourish and be stable, it’s something we need to protect.”