Once a globe-trotting diplomat, now a locally focused Dipper

May 11, 2011

For the record.

Once a globe-trotting diplomat, now a locally focused Dipper, Globe and Mail, May 10, 2011

Transition weeks are all about hello, goodbye, what’s the right form for that, and where do I go next?

As the Liberal caucus meets Wednesday, rookie MPs from all three parties are getting ready to take their seats in the House of Commons, even as defeated veterans pack their boxes and hug their departing staff. Becoming a new Member of Parliament is like starting up a small business: There are constituency offices to rent, parliamentary offices to staff, an Ottawa apartment to locate for those from away, many, many forms to fill out, and the sometimes-arcane rules of Westminster parliamentary procedure to master.

Here are three of the new faces you’ll find on the Hill when the 41st Parliament convenes in the coming weeks.

The MP Hélène Laverdière always favoured the NDP in private, but she was officially neutral as a Canadian diplomat posted in Chile, Senegal and the United States.

Now her political views are on public display as the 55-year-old is one of the most famous rookies in the NDP caucus that is taking Ottawa by storm. As she grabs her new ID card and gets briefed on parliamentary procedure in Ottawa this week, Ms. Laverdière is already known on the Hill as the vanquisher of former Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe. Read the rest of this entry »

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Who is Afraid of Ai Weiwei? Lessons for Canadians #elxn41

April 3, 2011

April 3, 2011: Ai Weiwei detained by Chinese gov.

Have a watch of the full PBS Frontline documentary: “Who is Afraid of Ai Weiwei?

“All of a sudden, these people who’b been standing on the sidewalk, milling around doing things, turned out to be people who had come to have dinner with him [Ai Weiwei]. And everybody there knew that, by simply eating dinner there, it was an act of defiance.”

P.S. When I saw Ai Weiwei willing to risk his life in “Who is Afraid of Ai Weiwei?” in order to fight for a better China, I am ashamed of the low voters’ turnout in Canada. It pains me to see my fellow Canadians, young Canadians, adult Canadians, born with the rights to vote easily giving up their rights/privilege to vote and ignoring their duty to vote in elections.


TorStar Editorial: Harper’s five question policy a disservice to public

April 3, 2011

A “what-not-to-do” lesson.

“TorStar Editorial: Harper’s five question policy a disservice to public” Apr 3, 2011

“Perhaps he’s channelling former prime minister Kim Campbell, who said an election campaign is not the time to debate important issues. Perhaps, despite leading in the polls, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper is running scared. Or perhaps he just can’t be bothered.

Either way, Harper’s strategy of refusing to take more than five questions a day from reporters amounts to a gross disservice to the public. Four of the permitted questions (generally two in French and two in English) go to reporters following Harper’s campaign, while the fifth is allotted to a local scribe, wherever the Conservative news conference that day happens to be staged. It’s a fragmented format that renders it almost impossible for reporters’ questions to build momentum and bear down on an issue.

Harpers rivals, in contrast, are far more open with the media — willing to subject themselves, and their policies, to some barbed questions in an effort to get their message out to voters.

That’s as it should be. Few Canadians are able to follow the ins and outs of an election first-hand. Reporters serve as the public’s eyes and ears on the campaign trail. Ultimately, voters are the ones denied access and explanations through Harper’s five question format.

It’s ironic. The Conservatives came to power promising more accountability, more openness and more access to information. Those principles matter the most in an election, when people need as many answers as possible to make an informed choice.

Harper should bear in mind Campbell’s defeat in the election where she didn’t want to discuss serious issues. The Tory party was pulverized — reduced to just two seats. It’s an appropriate fate for those who would keep the public in the dark.”


Imaginary Jasmine Revolution’s real consequence

February 20, 2011

For the record.

* An excerpt from WSJ, “Call to Activists Unnerves China

Ahead of the planned protests, more than 100 activists across China were taken away by police, confined to their homes or went missing, according to the Hong Kong-based group Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy.

The online protest appeal is likely to compound the apparent concern among Communist Party leaders that the recent uprisings against authoritarian governments in the Middle East and North Africa could inspire similar unrest in China. The lackluster popular response, however, demonstrates how much harder it would be to organize a sustained protest movement in a country with a well-funded and organized police force, and with the world’s most sophisticated Internet censorship system.

At one of the designated protest sites — a McDonald’s outlet in Beijing’s central Wangfujing shopping district — The Wall Street Journal saw a crowd of several hundred people gather, along with hundreds of uniformed and plainclothes police, shortly before 2 p.m. Read the rest of this entry »


蘋論:中國政改的希望越來越渺茫 – 李怡

December 21, 2010

For the record.

蘋論:中國政改的希望越來越渺茫 – (李怡) – 2010年12月22日

在諾貝爾和平獎宣佈頒授給劉曉波之後,筆者曾一再表示諾獎的刺激,說不定對中國政改帶來微茫的希望。這種看法,有人指為「太樂觀」了。
近日,收到加拿大維多利亞大學講座教授吳國光關於中國政治改革的談話稿。原稿有幾萬字。吳在 86至 87年間,曾參與趙紫陽組織的關於中共政治改革計劃的研究,並且是中共十三大報告政治改革部份的起草人之一。在這個談話稿中,他相當細緻地分析和評估中共政改的前景,而結論是:中共體制內向民主轉型的「希望很渺茫」。
吳教授覺得政改希望渺茫的原因,是因為自 1989年以來,中國整個政治生態發生了非常大的變化。
第一個變化是,文革後,中國社會中的精英和大眾有一個共識,就是要改革。但 89年後,這個共識破裂了。精英要的是穩定,大眾要的仍是政治改革。現在凡是和現體制有密切利益聯繫的人,基本上不希望有甚麼大改變,按現在的制度搞下去就行了。但大眾卻感到現況非常差,難以容忍。這種共識破裂狀況在 20年裏不斷深化。體制內轉型就是精英推動的轉型,「很難想像體制內的精英還願意從內部再去推動變革。」
第二個變化是貧富分化越來越大。若政治向民主轉型,現有的貧富分化就要被政治變革所改變。民主是制約貧富分化的制度。儘管民主制度下也有貧富分化,但富人影響力是金錢,而窮人的影響力就是選票。相對來說,窮人總是多數。民主是窮人可以用選票來制約富人金錢力量的制度。因此,當專權政治處於貧富分化非常大的情況下,民主化就難以推行,因為民主化會使富人失去許多東西。尤其是中國今天的富人,大多數並非自己創業致富,而是依靠當官的特權致富的。掌權者本身就屬富有階層,一個小小科長就可能有幾百萬、幾千萬甚至幾億的資源控制在手裏。 20年的經濟轉型,使國有資源基本上已私有化,而私有財產是子女可以繼承的東西。在 1989年以前,掌權的人不像現在那麼富有,權力也不一定能由子女繼承。民主化要把現掌權者的財產搞掉,誰會跟自己的利益過不去?
另一個變化是,中央領導人和地方領導人權力網的糾結關係。比如說「我爸是李剛」,一個小小的李剛,副科級幹部,有中宣部維護,有河北省維護,整個政權基本上都維護他。這就是說,從中南海,至少到市縣,已織成一個嚴密的關係網。上下級的手腳都互相牽制住。
吳教授認為,溫家寶 8月份以來,多次提到政治改革,一是內容空洞,二是高調,三是沒有實質內容。他說不改革死路一條,實際上是鄧小平 1992年南巡時說的。但怎麼改?改甚麼?他沒有講。溫家寶在美國說,民主就是讓一切人自由發展。這個調子非常高,實際上在人類歷史上這樣的民主沒有出現過。西方民主也不是一切人都可以自由發展的。民主不是萬能,它的最低限度的定義是定期由人民普及而平等地競爭性地選舉國家領導人。溫家寶只唱高調,不講民主的最低要求。

如果溫家寶真要推動民主轉型,他至少可以把趙紫陽十三大報告中的政改內容再講一次,比如黨政分開、差額選舉,「重大情況讓人民知道,重大問題經人民討論」,中國政治制度的主要弊端是「權力過分集中」,黨領導只是政治領導,不包括思想領導和組織領導。十三大報告提出的是這些實質內容,也是政改的最低標準。 23年來,中國政治不僅停滯,而且倒退,因此這種最低標準仍有重提的意義。溫家寶只空言政改卻無具體內容。
吳教授認為,劉曉波得和平獎,象徵國際社會開始對中國二、三十年所走道路的不滿在增加,國際社會越來越清楚認識到,通過經濟介入促使中國政制改變的可能性很小了,於是開始增加外部壓力。估計在未來 5到 10年內,國際社會對中國的政治壓力會越來越大,也許會使中國增加顏色革命的機率。
100多年前,美國作家馬克吐溫形容一些政治人物「靈魂充滿了卑鄙,口袋充滿了贓物,嘴巴充滿了謊言」。 100多年後,這樣的人物,又在中國重現了。除了危機迫使他們釋放權力之外,怎能期盼他們會自動作民主轉型呢?


China’s Confucius Peace Prize

December 9, 2010

China's Confucius Peace Prize

If it wasn’t that sad and painful, China’s Confucius Peace Prize can be a good joke. Here is a video report of China’s Confucius Peace Prize by CBC.


香港社民連到訪卡城 – 視像訪問陶君行﹑吳文遠﹑季詩傑

September 10, 2010

HK League of Social Democrats Party in Calgary (include video interviews) - 香港社民連到訪卡城 - 視像訪問陶君行﹑吳文遠﹑季詩傑

香港社會民主連線(簡稱社民連)陶君行吳文遠季詩傑於八月到訪卡城,無論你同意或不同意他們的理念或行為,社民連已經成為香港的一股新政治力量。因為我想清楚了解一吓他們及他們的年輕支持者,我與他們三人分別做了廣東話和英文的訪問。

以下是廣東話的訪問。英文的訪問及其它分析,請在這裡看。

附筆:我2004年拍攝,2005年在卡城電影節上演的記錄片 “長毛革命 (Long Hair Revolution)” (全片可以在網上看)的主角是梁國雄 (長毛),他是社民連的創黨元老,亦是社民連香港立法會的第一位議員。