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Members of Médecins Inspirés understand the importance of gathering opinions within the sector. The group asked the Hong Kong Medical Association to collect doctors’ opinions on the political reform framework set by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) on August 31, 2014, but the request was rejected.

However, they persuaded Leung Ka-lau, the legislator representing the medical functional constituency to conduct a poll and to vote according to its results when the government presents its electoral reform package. Leung agreed and the poll showed 55 per cent of 3,066 respondents opposed any proposals drafted within the NPCSC’s framework.

Accepting a request from Médecins Inspirés, Leung also collaborated with the Hong Kong Public Doctors’ Association to hold a seminar to discuss Hong Kong’s political reform on January 11. It was the first time members of the profession had held such an event and around 200 doctors and medical students took part.

The doctors actively expressed their opinions, and some, including Alfred Wong, disagreed with the conservative views of Medical Association chairman Louis Shih Tai-cho.

Shih says some council members of the Medical Association do regard Médecins Inspirés as a challenge to the association but that he is not one of them. “I hold different opinion with them, but I admire what they have done,” he says. He adds that Médecins Inspirés represents a more progressive voice in the sector, which is necessary in promoting the city’s democratic development.

Louis Shih Tai-cho speaks on political reform in a seminar
Louis Shih Tai-cho speaks on political reform in a seminar

However, Shih says many doctors are conservative compared with professionals from other sectors. He points out that doctors have overwhelming workloads and have no time to participate actively in politics. Older doctors experienced the wave of mass emigration in the 1980s and 1990s as well as SARS in 2003. They usually prefer a society with stable development.

Au Yiu-kai, a 55-year-old doctor and the leader of the Occupy Central Medical Team is an exception. But he agrees the sector is conservative, which is reflected in the lukewarm response to recruitment for the Occupy Central Medical Team.

Au had originally expected to recruit around 200 medical personnel, including doctors, to provide medical support during the planned Occupy Central action, the same number who signed up to support hunger strikers during the anti-National Education movement in 2012. However, he could only recruit around 160 doctors this time.

“It was the government, not us who urged the medical personnel to come out,” Au says. He explains that the use of tear gas, suspected triad members attacking protesters in Mong Kok and police hitting protestors’ heads with batons prompted more doctors to join the team when the class boycott turned into the Occupy Movement. In the end, 5,000 medical personnel joined the team, of which around 300 became active members.

Au thinks it is important for professionals to not only join street protests, but also the Legislative Council Functional Constituency and Chief Executive Election Committee elections. Unlike other citizens, professionals, like doctors, lawyers and accountants, can elect their representatives in these elections. Au won in the 2006 and 2011 Chief Executive Election Committee (EC) elections. He thinks professionals should grasp the opportunity to enter the establishment to express opposing views.

Charles Mok, the legislator representing the information technology functional constituency, agrees with Au that it is important for pan-democratic professionals to participate in elections. A political reform proposal needs the support of two-thirds of LegCo’s 70 legislators to pass. Pan-democrats now hold a one-third veto (27 votes), because they won the information technology, accountancy, medical, social welfare, legal, health services functional constituencies in the 2012 election.