chapter  7
23 Pages

Oppositional groups in Hong Kong: the right to protest

This chapter focuses on the composition of oppositional groups in Hong Kong mostly during the 1970s, their social identity image, and their goals and tactics. It shows that the perceptions of oppositional groups were such that they considered the government to be detached from their concerns and rarely willing to listen to public opinion. A prevailing sense of political powerlessness crippled any attempt at launching a pro-democracy movement before 1984 (Sing 1999). Many groups demanded comprehensive reforms, but they did not challenge the political system. While some outspoken but marginalized Singaporean members of the opposition have advocated revolutionary goals, as the next chapter will show, Hong Kong’s opposition tended to be very modest: its goals ranged from merely reforms of existing policies to increasing electoral representation in the Urban and Legislative Council. However, similar to the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) in recent years, Hong Kong’s oppositional groups during the 1970s were increasingly willing to go beyond institutionalized tactics. There was a growing number of people willing to demonstrate publicly for change, and toward the end of the 1970s there were protesters who were even willing to break the law in order to get their message out.