- Commission needs to look into sources of recent violence from all sides, identify problems and come up with solutions without laying blame
Can the opposition and the government cut a deal to break the current political impasse and restore peace in our streets? Probably not at the moment. But when both sides are exhausted, they may have to.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor is probably too pigheaded to deliver the compromises needed for a resolution. The opposition has no credibility to call off a violent protest movement that is leaderless and spinning out of control. To stay relevant, its lawmakers can goad them on but not call them off.
The Civil Human Rights Front can always deliver another anti-government mass rally; its "leaders" just don't know what they want and can only shout vacuous slogans and make empty demands. It is already promising another protest march for the weekend, which will no doubt end in mayhem and fights with police. Let's hope no one will die or be seriously injured.
But the current state of affairs is untenable. If something cannot go on forever, it will stop. We just don't know when.
The elements of a deal are not too difficult to discern. The fight over shelving or withdrawing the extradition bill, the proposed legislation which first triggered the current unrest, is really a semantic excuse for the opposition.
Amnesty for protesters will see both Hong Kong and China win
More substantial is their demand for an amnesty for all arrested protesters. Writing in this paper, Paul Serfaty, a barrister and investor who is a long-time resident of Hong Kong, has argued it is politically and legally feasible, through legislation.
Paul and I are at opposite sides of the political fence, but I take his opinions and analysis seriously. Though it may be hard to swallow, we may have to let some of the most violent rioters go, for the sake of reconciliation.
However, there has to be a quid pro quo. You can't demand a blanket amnesty for rioters while calling for an official investigation into police conduct, and punishment for officers found to have used excessive force. You can't punish one side while letting the other completely off the hook.
However, learning from the example of Nelson Mandela's South Africa, we can convene a commission of reconciliation, with wide representation, to look into the sources of the recent violence from all sides and find ways to ameliorate the underlying causes. It's not to lay blame, but to identify problems and propose solutions.
It's time for all sides to show leadership.
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