Jenny Kwan: It's unfathomable for Hong Kong government to disregard such a powerful display of public opinion

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      Although I have left Hong Kong and immigrated to Canada when I was a young child, Hong Kong, as my place of birth, is much more meaningful to be than merely childhood memories. It is the birth place of my cultural heritage. As such, there will always be a connection to Hong Kong in my heart.

      Watching recent events unfold in Hong Kong through the media, I was deeply inspired and moved by the democratic spirit of the one million Hong Kong people who took to the streets to partake in peaceful demonstrations to voice their concerns over the extradition bill.

      However, my sense of optimism was quickly dashed, and instead devolved into despair and pain as the Hong Kong government responded to the protesters, first with disregard, then with violent suppression.

      One million protesters! One million people is the combined population of Vancouver, Burnaby, and Richmond.

      It is utterly unfathomable for a government with any accountability to the people it governs to disregard such a clear and powerful display of public opinion. It is even more unthinkable that such expressions would be imperiously suppressed.

      The government’s disregard of the protesters’ point of view and its unilateral decision-making process has led to the escalation of the demonstrations and the violent confrontations that are now happening on the streets. There is no justification for a government to use such excessive force—tear gas and rubber bullets—against unarmed civilians in a peaceful demonstration.

      When Hong Kong was returned to Chinese sovereignty, the “one country, two systems” constitutional principle was formulated due to the different economic, political, and legal system between the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the rest of China. This principle was enshrined in the Sino-British Joint Declaration. This was China’s promise to the people of Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, and the world.

      The people of Hong Kong are concerned that with the proposed amendments to its extradition laws, the “one country, two systems” principle would be broken, and the legal system of China could be exercised on people in Hong Kong through extradition to China. People from very diverse backgrounds, professions, and faiths have spoken out about their concerns with these possible changes. These concerns are valid and arose out of a genuine love for Hong Kong and democratic values.

      The youth in Hong Kong are advocating for democracy, defending the Hong Kong judiciary's independence, and upholding the principle of “one country, two systems”.

      It breaks my heart to watch so many young people, passionate about the fate of their birthplace, confront fully armoured riot police, and get beaten down and injured.

      It is my hope that the Hong Kong government will do the right thing before the needless violence further escalates.

      It is my hope that the government of Hong Kong will restore peace and political stability to Hong Kong by respecting the wishes of the people and immediately withdraw the extradition bill.

      Jenny Kwan is the NDP MP for Vancouver East and her party's critic for multiculturalism, immigration, refugees, and citizenship.