Card. Zen advertises in the press: Vote for Justice and Democracy
by Annie Lam
Bishop Emeritus of Hong Kong appears is in a full page ad in his clerics and in a signed message calls for participation in the elections that have been transformed into a "referendum on democracy." The wrath of Beijing.
Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - Card. Joseph Zen, bishop emeritus of Hong Kong has appeared today in a full page advertisement in some newspapers in the Chinese territory, urging the Hong Kong people to vote on May 16 as an act of "social justice" and for universal suffrage.
The ad, with the cardinal's signature and full page photo of him in his Roman collar, says even though one dislikes the resigned lawmakers, one has to vote to support them because "you vote for a true universal suffrage".
In late Januray, five pro-democracy lawmakers resigned from the Legislative Council (the Hong Kong parlaiment), the local legislative assembly, in a bid to urge the local government to launch a by-election to fill their seats. The move, a "so-called referendum", shows their determination to move toward having universal suffrage in Hong Kong and abolition of functional constituencies in the Legislative Council.
In the territory parliament, only half of the 60 seats are elected directly, the others are elected by corporations or are chosen by the government. Great Britain never granted full democracy, and neither has Beijing, taking over full responsibility for any possible political reform in Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong government has established the date of 16 May to elect deputies to the five vacant seats.
Speaking to AsiaNews, the cardinal said in his advertising aims to underline the importance of voting for universal suffrage, and hopes that the campaign will motivate more people to participate in the election – referendum.
The cardinal added that in those days he will be in Rome, but has plans to return in time to vote on May 16. "It is a campaign for all those who are residents to move [the territory] towards universal suffrage," he said.
Lina Chan, executive secretary of the Justice and Peace Commission of the diocese, welcomes the idea of advertising in newspapers: "It's a way to show public support for democracy."
Some civic leaders, who do not support the "quasi-referendum" have also published full-page ads in local newspapers calling for a boycott of the elections.
The debate on the "quasi-referendum" irritates Beijing, which continues to assert that the application of the referendum is not provided for in the Basic Law (the mini-constitution of Hong Kong).