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13 October 2014 10:55 AM
If one was to believe the reporting on Hong Kong’s pro-democracy demonstrations, especially the reporting in Hong Kong, one could be mistaken for believing that it was all but over. Nothing, however, could be further from the truth.
There is no doubt that the numbers in Hong Kong Central have diminished, especially during the day, but they continue to bounce back at night, when ordinary Hong Kongers have finished their day’s work or study. So, too, at the Mongkok protest site in central Kowloon.
At both sites, traffic continues to be blocked and the barricades erected from street furniture over a week ago remain entirely intact. The few police roaming around appear to have no interest in taking down the barricades, even though the protesters are hundreds of metres away.
There was some hope that talks scheduled for Friday would make some headway towards resolving the protests. But no-one on either side believes there could be any meaningful movement on the protesters’ central demand to freely nominate and elect their chief executive in 2017.
Despite believing they were promised such an outcome in 2012, more recently the residents of Hong Kong were told they could vote only for a candidate that had been vetted by a pro-Beijing committee.
There is a view, too, that most Hong Kongers, as they call themselves, are sick of the disruption to their daily lives. Shopkeepers are reported to be complaining about loss of business.
Yet little business is disrupted and what is more evident is the goods that have been freely given by businesses all over Hong Kong to support the protesters. There have been donations of crates of water and other drinks, free food, tarpaulins and even tents and other forms of shelter, along with first aid supplies stockpiled at emergency care centres for those protesters who were tear-gassed or attacked by thugs believed to be paid for by interests close to the governor.
What is clear is that, rather than the pro-democracy protests just fading away, they have polarised Hong Kong society. There are very few Hong Kongers who now do not have a strong opinion on the issue.
Broadly speaking, the city’s business elites tend to be pro-status quo, with the working class. tending to be more divided. Hong Kong’s large and influential middle class, however, appears to be strongly pro-democratic. Unofficial but reliable surveys undertaken by a respectable institution (which cannot be named in what is a subtle climate of retribution) says that between 60 and 70 per cent of Hong Kong’s resident are in favour of having a freely nominated and elected chief executive.
Against these pro-democratic tendencies is not just Hong Kong’s business elite but, of course, the government of China. No matter the extent to which Hong Kongers like to think of themselves as a people and a place apart, they are Chinese and Hong Kong is a part of China.
The Chinese government believes it cannot afford to allow Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protest to be successful. Should it be so, it will show the rest of China that peaceful street protests can produce political change.
China may have moved on from the bad old days of the Tiananmen Square massacre, or it may not – that is yet to be seen. But the Chinese Communist Party has no intention of relinquishing its very considerable grip on the machinery of the state, and the considerable economic opportunities that come with such control.
Yet the regime in Beijing must tread carefully in Hong Kong, given it is China’s largest source of investment funds and, equally, China is now a major investor in Hong Kong.
Should Hong Kong become unstable and its economy dive, that would be financially disastrous for all involved. And in the end, with China having given up any pretence to being ‘communist’ and Hong Kong being one of the world’s most mercantile cities, money appears to be what is most important.
Yet Hong Kong’s students and others at the protest sites object to being locked in what they consider to be a gilded cage. Rather than damaging business, they believe greater representation and accountability will enhance business. And, more importantly, they increasingly see having a representative and accountable political leader as being a good in its own right.
There is a strong chance that Hong Kong’s public pro-democracy movement will wind down. But it is at least as likely that it will also revive. There is now a common expectation that pro-democracy protests will now come in waves, larger and more frequent as the city moves towards the 2017 elections.
A compromise is possible, saving political face for both sides. But such a compromise will be difficult to achieve.
The alternative is that, the closer the 2017 election comes, the higher the stakes will be for the people of Hong Kong. The stakes, too, will be increasingly – perhaps precariously - high for the government in Beijing.
10 October 2014 1:55 PM
In the recent case of Tajjour v New South Wales  HCA 35, the High Court was asked to consider whether New South Wales laws prohibiting ‘consorting’ with convicted offenders infringe the right to freedom of association, protected by an inferred right in the Australian Constitution or by the application of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
10 October 2014 1:51 PM
Sexuality Education Matters is a Deakin University series of videos showing footage of pre-service teachers and lecturers discussing their experiences and challenges, as well as some examples of teaching and learning activities in action.
The Cultural Heritage Centre for Asia and the Pacific (CHCAP) seminar series aims to bring together academics and practitioners to discuss key issues facing cultural heritage and museums. The CHCAP is a leading research centre in the heritage and museum studies field, based in the Alfred Deakin Research Institute and the Faculty of Arts and Education at Deakin University. Established in 2001, as part of an agreement signed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and Deakin University, the aims of CHCAP are: - To develop a critical knowledge base in which to understand the diverse ways in which cultural heritage (embodied in places, collections and exhibitions as well as in intangible forms of cultural production) constitutes a medium to value and understand the relationship between past, present and future as well as the need to conserve, manage and interpret cultural heritage. - To advocate for an understanding of heritage that not only influences and shapes cultural identity, but fosters cross-cultural understanding within our increasingly globalised world. - To inform the development of policy and practice in the interrelated field of heritage and museum studies by undertaking research which is both nationally and internationally relevant and addresses the most pressing issues in this field.
Environmental Science (Wildlife and Conservation Biology) allows you contribute in a professional capacity to the study and management of wildlife populations both in Australia and overseas. Wildlife and Conservation Biology has a strong focus on hands-on fieldwork. Environmental Science (Environmental Management and Sustainability) provides you with the skills and knowledge to manage the interaction between people and the environment, and to satisfy society's needs for clean water, fresh air and healthy soils through the sustainable use of natural resources, environments and ecosystem services.
Professor Noam Chomsky presented a lecture 'Changing Contours of Global Order', a look at our drastically changing world, and the implications for domestic and world order on 4 November 2011. This was a free public lecture and was Professor Chomsky's only public appearance in Melbourne, Australia. Professor Chomsky was an invited guest of Deakin University's School of Humanities and Social Sciences.
Social media and mobile technologies have taken off in Australia. This collection of audio and video content looks at the various perspectives from business to sporting organisations to security and families.