Hong Kong (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The crackdown on the pro-democracy movement in Tiananmen Square was not a massacre and Hong Kong is not ready for universal suffrage because many people are not patriotic enough and do not love the Communist Party, said Ma Lik, head of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), during a press conference on Tuesday.
Recent discussions regarding the June 4, 1989, massacre have been heated as the Territory prepares for the annual rallies and demonstrations to commemorate the pro-democracy and anti-corruption movement snuffed out in a bloody wave of repression.
Mr Ma, known for his pro-Beijing views, believed that students are not getting the right education and that many people do not care about the motherland. For this reason universal suffrage cannot be introduced till 2022.
Although he did retract part of his statement, saying that he “might have been rash and frivolous when citing examples,” he repeated his claims that the crackdown was "not a massacre.” Instead, he said that “what is most important is to find out the whole truth."
Claiming that his statement on universal suffrage and Hong Kong schools were taken out of context, he insisted that all he said was that teachers should not "teach whatever they wanted".
Hong Kong’s school system is divided between public schools on the one hand and privately-run but publicly-funded schools on the other. But for some time the Education Department has tried to exert greater ideological control over all schools, including private schools, against the opposition of Catholic and Protestant schools.
Despite Ma’s half-hearted retraction, DAB vice-chairman Lau Kong-wah, said it was not appropriate for him to arouse controversy.
“If our chairman has sparked unnecessary arguments—arguments which have aroused more controversy within society, then it is possible the DAB, as a political party, can make an apology to the public," Mr Lau said.
But this is not good enough for the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democrat Movements in China.
“We need to educate his party members and bring justice back to those who suffered that night,” said trade union leader Lee Cheuk-yan.
For this reason, the alliance will issue a "letter of challenge" to Mr Ma, calling on him to debate veteran June 4 activist Szeto Wah in Victoria Park on May 27.
“He said he wanted to seek the truth of June 4. Let us seek the truth together," Mr Lee said.