Do vote YES! Because it is the right thing to do…

Some items. I have already mentioned the NO case being a farrago of side issues and Chicken Little arguments. One such argument concerns the – irrelevant really — matter of the Safe Schools programme, which if I were still teaching I would without doubt use. I have argued that before. Then all sorts of rather amazing things are being said about children and gender — also strictly irrelevant to the Postal Survey question. Nonetheless, if those items and more concern you, I commend the following — and that’s me using the Diggers Club free wi-fi, by the way.

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See Moral Panic 101: Equality, Acceptance and the Safe Schools Scandal. Four stars from me! And see The Resident Judge of Port Phillip:

This Quarterly Essay is not about the SSM survey, but because of the advertising campaign prompted by the ‘No’ side, it has been drawn into the whole debate.  It is a good and, unfortunately, very timely read.

I find Benjamin Law’s essay has a strong and loud ring of truth about it. I can’t recommend it strongly enough.

Second item: you may have heard some on the NO side rabbitting on about the religious freedom of cake shops and florists. Well, if you want the TRUTH about one of their star examples, read Mike Seccombe.

Even if you don’t recognise the names Melissa and Aaron Klein you probably will have heard their story. It is told over and over again by opponents of same-sex marriage.

They were the couple whose Sweet Cakes bakery in Gresham, Oregon, was forced to close due to a “smear campaign and boycott” and a $US135,000 “fine” imposed by the state because they refused to make a wedding cake for two lesbians.

That’s the short version, the one the anti-same-sex marriage people put out as an example of the intolerance of the queer community.

The full story of the wedding cake, however, presents quite a different picture…

Third item: the moving letter in today’s Sydney Morning Herald by Tony O’Grady. I didn’t know his brother the late Paul O’Grady MLC, but I did teach the brother of Paul’s partner. Russell is now living in the USA and is a regular Facebook friend. The letter is worth quoting in full. The more who read it the better!

For all the uncountable words written about the marriage equality issue, Tiernan Brady hits the nail on the head when he writes that marriage equality is a confirmation of “those [family and community] values we hold dear” (“Lesson from Ireland”, September 8).

My brother Paul left home in 1976, at the age of 16, to live in a same-sex relationship. We were raised by conservative Catholic parents, and to say that we were  shocked  would be an understatement.  However, there was never any question about supporting a son and brother.  We helped him move,  and it was always a joy to have him visit (no matter how briefly). Like all families we had disagreements, and liked some of his partners more than others. We also lost contact at times, but whenever he needed us we were there (as he was for us). After Paul resigned from Parliament, he and Mum did an interview for a TV program. Mum was questioned about her support for a gay son and her reply was to the effect that, “He is my son. Of course you support your children”.

Paul championed equality and fairness across all areas of society, not just for the LGBQTI community. When he died in 2015, my siblings and I were amazed at the number of chance meetings with people who had been assisted by Paul: a former prisoner whom Paul had regularly visited in jail; a funeral director whose partner had been helped by Paul on an immigration matter; victims of domestic violence.

I doubt if Paul would have wanted to get married, but I do know that the core values instilled in us by our  parents, and which guided his life and work, were all about family and community. These values dictate equality for all.
Why do we need so many words?

Tony O’Grady Epping

Update:

A distant Whitfield family cousin emailed me from regional Callala Bay. Let’s hope there are more out there like him!

Neil just looked at your web site and I agree that we should vote YES… I have a nephew, who is gay and has cost him jobs because he is gay.

It  has to do with the DNA which you have no control over. If your DNA makes you gay, so what can you do to change that, NOTHING…

Jason has a masters in Business management and a lovely fellow. He has my support,and also one of his friends has become our friend. David is a lovely person and a solicitor with the Government here in Nowra. We hear from him regularly…

Hope the vote goes the right way.

From sunny Callala Bay

 

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I’m really a conservative…

But hardly anyone else is, least of all the creatures that infest the Murdoch press so much. I say that after almost spoiling my lunch here at City Diggers (appropriately conservative venue) by reading the latest column by Andrew Bolt in which to me the great mystery is whether he is in any genuine sense any kind of Christian, deeply and intellectually that is — apart from using it as a chess-piece in a cliched rant directed against clearly sane people like Waleed Aly and annoying but misunderstood folk like Yasmin Abdel-Magied. (Best comment on her, by the way, comes from fellow ex-SBHS alumnus and well-known writer of letters to the editor Burt Candy on Facebook the other day: “My father died on the Thai-Burma railway as a Japanese POW and I know he wouldn’t have been offended by Yasmin using the ‘Lest We Forget’ to remind us that there are still wars across the world that are killing innocents. However he would have condemned her being forced out of Australia for it. He didn’t die to support cruel bigotry”). But it’s part of Bolt’s schtick to throw into his tired argument her name, Waleed’s, and the ABC, which apparently spends all its resources on vilifying Christians — on Compass for example, or by broadcasting Songs of Praise every Sunday. Meantime, I wonder just how much of the Nicene Creed Mr Bolt actually subscribes to hand-on-heart. I would guess not much.

But back to my being a conservative. All my genuinely Left friends over the last 50 years or so have known what a sceptic I am when it comes to The Revolution! When it comes to the classic locus of conservatism I am rather more Edmund Burke than Tom Paine, and always have been, despite my views on individual issues often producing a profile like So I tried ABC’s “Vote Compass”.

The overview of my political leanings came out thus:

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Not too surprising.

But then I subscribed to Quadrant back in the 60s, when it was half-way decent. I ever rejected the siren-call of Marxism. If from anywhere, my political core came from my parents and especially from my maternal grandfather Roy Christison, who if anything was a Dickensian and judging from many a thing he told me something of an agnostic in his later years. As am I really. Have a look at these posts from November 2008 and this one from the year before:

I began life as a resident of The Shire and continued as such for my first quarter-century. I was, so far as I was political at all, a supporter of the Liberal Party in early adulthood. I was a religious conservative. I even subscribed to Quadrant, though I would venture to suggest the Quadrant of the 1960s bore small resemblance to the Quadrant of today. I supported, at first, the Vietnam War.

In due course I changed my mind about the Vietnam War, but always felt the extreme left’s take on it was hyperbolic and in its own way bigoted. The treatment of soldiers returning from that war in the early 70s was disgraceful. As I went into my teaching career I began to see through the conservative religion to the pit of absurdity at its heart, leading to a considerable (but useful) period in the wilderness in that regard. I became involved, in a small way, in the Teachers’ Federation and came to see the value and necessity of the trade union movement.

In 1972 I voted for Whitlam. Since then I have tended to favour Labor, the sadly dying Democrats, or The Greens, or, on occasion, Independents.

I have learned much from some left-wing, even Marxist or neo-Marxist, writers without ever being or even wanting to be a Marxist. Like Bruce I read Karl Popper’s The Open Society and its Enemies (or some of it), and Orwell, and S I Hayakawa’s Language in Thought and Action. Take just one quote from Popper:

Liberalism and state-interference are not opposed to each other. On the contrary, any kind of freedom is clearly impossible unless it is guaranteed by the state. A certain amount of state control in education, for instance, is necessary, if the young are to be protected from a neglect which would make them unable to defend their freedom, and the state should see that all education facilities are available to everybody. But too much state control in educational matters is a fatal danger to freedom, since it must lead to indoctrination. As already indicated, the important and difficult question of the limitations of freedom cannot be solved by a cut and dried formula. And the fact that there will always be borderline cases must be welcomed, for without the stimulus of political problems and political struggles of this kind, the citizen’s readiness to fight for their freedom would soon disappear, and with it, their freedom. (Viewed in this light, the alleged clash between freedom and security, that is, a security guaranteed by the state, turns out to be a chimera. For there is no freedom if it is not secured by the state; and conversely, only a state which is controlled by free citizens can offer them any reasonable security at all.)

I have, partly through linguistics and English Studies, taken on since then much from postmodern and postcolonial sources — generally speaking so long as they can write like human beings, which many of them cannot. So my thinking may even be described by some as conservative. It is certainly not terribly profound or original. However, given all the above I found myself increasing alienated by what has in the past decade or two masqueraded as conservatism, a set of increasingly fevered and unreasonable right-wing fetishes starting with the kiss of that spider woman Thatcher — though it has to be said of her that she was a very progressive figure in her day on the subject of global warming, but then she was after all really a scientist.

In 1984-5 I found myself working full time for the then Liberal Party candidate for Sydney, not that I ever voted for him. That was when the Howard career really began with his first stint as leader, stalling soon after, but reviving to take him to power in 1996. I saw at that time the forces at work, viewed from my desk in a Glebe bookshop, or fielded by telephone. I saw, met, spoke to, or at least heard of many of the players at that time. I saw the beginning of the trajectory that has delivered the Liberal Party now in the wilderness. At the centre of it all has been John Howard. (Yes, I had taken time out of teaching.)

That potted background leads to an excellent letter in today’s Sydney Morning Herald.

Liberals must return to tradition of decency, diversity and tolerance

It’s hard to see the Liberal Party re-establishing itself as a credible force without it reconnecting with a significant part of its one-time base: the small-l, compassionate tradition that was for so long such an important part of the party’s make-up, allowing it to operate as a “broad church” of anti-Labor tendencies. They used to call it the Whig tradition.

It was a tendency that recognised an obligation on government to look after those less able to deal with the world than others more fortunate; a tendency that saw people as people, rather than as economic units.

It used to be in the Liberal Party, too, that members were able to vote against their party if it came to a matter of real conscience. It was tolerated, and the party was proud of it as one of the most important distinctions between it and the ALP. It was a key reason for them naming themselves Liberals.

These days, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission would do well to have a look at the Liberals for misleading advertising, for liberal they ain’t.

One of the most poisonous trends throughout the Howard era has been the crushing of the small-l tradition in the party with the at-times systematic elimination of MPs and strains through the organisational wing.

Even with a handful of moderates surviving idiosyncratically, they are nothing like the force they were supposed to be in the Menzian Liberal Party. And when they do survive, they are there more often as numbers manipulators than as forces for altruism.

The Howard Liberal Party, fashioned by him and for him by the likes of Michael Kroger and Peter Costello, made people such as Petro Georgiou, Judi Moylan and Bruce Baird nothing more than an accidental ginger group.

It became, with them, a matter of note when this ginger group took stands against the party and the leader, when it should be something almost normal: an important check and balance within the party.

The Liberals used to be proud that they tolerated dissent. Now, they punish it as vindictively as the ALP, except that vengeance within the Liberals is often behind the back, not up front.

The Liberals’ liberal tendency should be an indispensable component of the party. That’s where the party’s compassion is: its humanity. Without it, they will forever recede into more of an intolerant right-wing rump undeserving of broad support from the electorate.

Paul Ellercamp Gymea

Also from The Shire, you may note.

The worst thing they could do would be to elect Tony Abbott as leader; when I saw him extolling his “people skills” on TV last night I almost fell off my chair!…

But the problem with Abbott is deeper than that; in fact he is part of the problem being a product of the rot that set in after 1985. I can’t help thinking Paul Keating was being mischievous in proposing Julie Bishop; let’s face it, he hardly wishes the Liberal Party well. I would also reject Brendan Nelson who has displayed an amazing talent for following all the worst advice he can find, in my opinion….

So. The trouble is there are virtually none of the loudmouth conservatives here or overseas that I can take seriously. After all, I find the case for human-influenced climate change compelling, which makes me a warmist! If I were still teaching I would gladly avail myself of the resources offered by Safe Schools! I plan to vote YES, assuming that silly postal survey turns out to be even legal. (We don’t know that yet.) And so on…

I am a conservative out of sorts with almost all the fetishes that pass for conservatism in today’s world! I suspect I am far from alone.

Poem of the day: W H Auden

Now what makes me think again of this poem, which has haunted me ever since I first read it at Sydney University when I was 16?

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SEPTEMBER 1, 1939

by W.H. Auden

 

I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death
Offends the September night.

Accurate scholarship can
Unearth the whole offence
From Luther until now
That has driven a culture mad,
Find what occurred at Linz,
What huge imago made
A psychopathic god:
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.

Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
About Democracy,
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic grave;
Analysed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again

Into this neutral air
Where blind skyscrapers use
Their full height to proclaim
The strength of Collective Man,
Each language pours its vain
Competitive excuse:
But who can live for long
In an euphoric dream;
Out of the mirror they stare,
Imperialism’s face
And the international wrong.

Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.

The windiest militant trash
Important Persons shout
Is not so crude as our wish:
What mad Nijinsky wrote
About Diaghilev
Is true of the normal heart;
For the error bred in the bone
Of each woman and each man
Craves what it cannot have,
Not universal love
But to be loved alone.

From the conservative dark
Into the ethical life
The dense commuters come,
Repeating their morning vow;
‘I will be true to the wife,
I’ll concentrate more on my work,’
And helpless governors wake
To resume their compulsory game:
Who can release them now,
Who can reach the dead,
Who can speak for the dumb?

All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.

Defenseless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.

Junior HP had an outing yesterday

Junior HP likes the Illawarra Leagues Club.

leagues

You see, the wi-fi internet there goes with NBN speed and they allow viewing of YouTube. So after lunch (silverside, yum!) at Diggers, just up the road, I called on the retired wharfie who now spends his time mostly at Leagues. I had introduced the wharfie to Junior HP last week, when we pursued quite a few old songs. This time though I brought headphones, as Junior HP’s own speakers are what you might term minimal.

The wharfie, among other things, had been a swimmer of note in his day. So on YouTube we followed that track through several Olympic Games starting of course with Beverley Whitfield.

Then music. As am I, the wharfie was particularly moved by the Hayley Westenra, Vera Lynn, Fron Choir version of “We’ll Meet Again” from the Royal Albert Hall, sung before The Queen, and Dame Vera herself, at The Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance 2009.

I can get teary listening to that. The wharfie and I are both “war babies”.  My father came home from Papua, his did not.

Death of a hero: Liu Xiaobo 1955-2017

Guaranteed to get this post/blog banned in China, alas, when in fact the Chinese should have been proud of this son, and certainly should have listened to him.

Interesting to see that SBS News devoted twelve minutes to the story. It was the lead item last night, unlike on ABC.

Liu Xiaobo was born into one of China’s first generations to be raised after the country’s Cultural Revolution. Receiving a PhD in literature, he was branded a ‘black horse’ early in his academic career.

“He was notorious for tipping sacred cows,” friend Australia author Linda Jaivin told SBS World News. Ms Jaivin lived in Beijing in the 1980s and moved in the same literary circles as Mr Liu. “He was very intellectual, very confident. He would attack people that everybody thought were the greatest writers and the greatest poets. He was quite controversial in his opinions and very good fun also,” Ms Jaivin said.

Mr Liu’s provocative writing would soon turn to impassioned protest.

Protesting at Tiananmen Square

When the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests broke out Liu was a visiting scholar at America’s Colombia University.

He rushed home to support the students, becoming a key protest figure. He gave rousing speeches, and famously joined a hunger strike.

Most significantly he is credited with saving many lives by helping to negotiate peaceful retreat for students out of the square….

During the days following the massacre Mr Liu, along with other activist friends, took refuge in Australian diplomat Nicholas Jose’s Beijing apartment.

When the area was evacuated Mr Jose offered Mr Liu refuge at the Australian embassy. “He could have come inside the gates to safety, he would have been in the jurisdiction of the Australian embassy if he did that. But he decided no, he wanted to meet his friends and take his chance,” he told SBS World News.

Now a writer and professor at Adelaide University, Mr Jose says that moment is the most precious memory of his friend.

“I will always remember that handshake outside the embassy that night. He borrowed my clothes. He was wearing my jeans and my jacket, and off he went.”

Mr Jose and Ms Jaivin were horrified to learn Mr Liu was apprehended in the street by an unmarked van just hours later.

He spent 18 months in jail, the first of many stints in detention. But despite heavy surveillance and censorship Liu Xiaobo continued to publish abroad, unwavering in his condemnation of China’s lack of freedom..

While free he often travelled, lecturing in Australia in 1993. But Mr Liu never sought asylum from China.

“He was passionate about China and its future. I think he knew that’s where his destiny was,” Mr Jose said.

Through Nicholas Jose I met Liu Xiaobo in 1993 in Sydney. See also Nicholas Jose – Fiction and Non-fiction (2005) and Linda Jaivin on Hou Dejian (2016) which includes links to several other past posts of mine. See also Linda Jaivan A Nobel Affair.

One post is worth reposting as it summarises the ideas that got Liu Xiaobo into trouble, but which China really needs to hear:

Dr. LIU Xiaobo is a renowned Chinese literary critic, dissident writer and human rights activist based in Beijing, as well as the Honorary President of the ICPC (Independent Chinese PEN Centre). On 8 December 2008, Dr. Liu was taken into the Police custody and now serves a sentence of 11 years for what he wrote…

What did he write?

Many things, but his participation in the Charter of Human Rights in China (Charter 08) has been the cause both of his Nobel Prize and his imprisonment.

II. Our Fundamental Concepts 
At this historical juncture of the future destiny of China, it is necessary to rethink the last 100 years of modernization and reaffirm the following concepts:
Freedom: Freedom is at the core of universal values. The rights of speech, publication, belief, assembly, association, movement, and to demonstrate are all the concrete realizations of freedom. If freedom is not flourishing, then there is no modern civilization of which to speak.
Human Rights: Human rights are not bestowed by the state, but are rights that each person is born with and enjoys. To ensure/guarantee human rights must be the foundation of the first objective of government and lawful public authority, and is also the inherent demand of “putting people first.” The past political calamities of China are all closely related to the disregard of human rights by the ruling authorities.
Equality: Each individual, regardless of social status, occupation, gender, economic situation, ethnic group, skin color, religion, or political belief, is equal in human dignity and freedom. The principle of equality before the law and a citizen’s society must be implemented; the principle of equality of economic, cultural, and political rights must be implemented.
Republicanism: Republicanism is “governing together; living peacefully together,” □ that is, the decentralization of power and balancing of interests, that is comprised of diverse interests, different social groups, pluralistic culture and groups seeking religious belief, on the foundation of equal participation, peaceful competition, public discussion, and peaceful handling of public affairs.
Democracy: The most basic meaning is that sovereignty resides in the people and the people elect government. Democracy has the following basic characteristics: (1) the legitimacy of government comes from the people, the source of government power is the people; (2) government must be chosen by the people; (3) citizens enjoy the right to vote, important civil servants and officials of all levels should be produced through elections at fixed times; (4) the decisions of the majority must be respected while protecting the basic rights of the minority. In a word, democracy will become the modern tool for making government one “from the people, by the people, and for the people.”
Constitutionalism: Constitutionalism is the principle of protecting basic constitutionally-guaranteed freedoms and rights of citizens through law and a rule of law, delimiting the boundaries of government power and actions, and providing corresponding systemic capacity.
In China, the era of imperial power has long passed and will not return; in the world, authoritarian systems are approaching the dusk of their endings. The only fundamental way out for China: citizens should become the true masters of the nation, throw off the consciousness of reliance on a wise ruler or honest and upright official, make widely public civic consciousness of the centrality of rights and the responsibility of participation, and practice freedom, democracy, and respect for law.
III. Our basic standpoint 
In line with a responsible and constructive citizens’ spirit towards the country’s political system, civil rights and various aspects of social development, we put forward the following specific standpoints:

  1. Amend the Constitution: Based on the aforementioned values and concepts, amend the Constitution, abolishing the provisions in the current Constitution that are not in conformity with the principle that sovereignty resides in the people so that the Constitution can truly become a document for guaranteeing human rights and [appropriate use of] public power. The Constitution should be the implementable supreme law that any individual, group or party shall not violate, and lay the legal foundation for the democratization of China.
  2. Separation and balance of power: A modern government that separates, checks and keeps balance among powers guarantees the separation of legislative, judicial, and administrative power. The principle of governing by laws and being a responsible Government shall be established. Over-expansion of executive power shall be prevented; the Government shall be responsible to the taxpayers; the separation, checking and keeping balance of powers between the central and local governments shall be set up; the central power authority shall be clearly defined and mandated by the Constitution, and the local governments shall be fully autonomous.
  3. Democratize the lawmaking process: All levels of the legislative bodies shall be directly elected. Maintain the principles of fairness and justice in making law, and democratize the lawmaking process.
  4. Independence of the judiciary: The judiciary shall be nonpartisan, free from any interference. Ensure judicial independence, and guarantee judicial fairness. Establish a Constitutional Court and a system of judicial review; maintain the authority of the Constitution. Abolish as soon as possible the Party’s Committees of Political and Legislative affairs at all levels that seriously endanger the country’s rule of law. Avoid using public tools for private objectives.
  5. Public institutions should be used for the public: Realize the nationalization of the armed forces. The military shall be loyal to the Constitution and to the country. The political party organizations in the armed forces should be withdrawn. The level of military professionalism should be raised. All civil servants including the police shall remain politically neutral. Discrimination in employment of civil servants based on party preference should be eliminated and equal employment without any party preference should be adopted.
  6. Protect human rights: Protection of human rights should be effectively implemented and human dignity should be safeguarded. A Commission on Human Rights shall be established that is responsible to the highest level of authority representing public opinion. [This Commission] will prevent government abuse of public power and violation of human rights, and especially protect the personal freedom of citizens. All persons should be be free from unlawful arrest, detention, summons, interrogation, and punishment. The system of Reeducation-Through-Labor should be abolished.
  7. Election of public officials: The democratic electoral system should be fully implemented, with the realization of the equal voting right of one person one vote. Direct election of all levels of administrative heads should be institutionalized step by step. Free competition in the elections on a regular basis and citizen participation in the election of public officials are inalienable basic human rights.
  8. Urban and rural equality: The current urban-rural household registration system should be repealed. The equal rights for all citizens guaranteed by the Constitution should be implemented. The freedom of movement for citizens should be protected.
  9. Freedom of association: Citizens’ right to freedom of association shall be safeguarded. The current system for registration and examination before approval for civil society organizations should be changed to a registration and recording system. The ban on freely organizing political parties should be lifted. All activities of parties should be regulated by the Constitution and law. One-party monopolization of ruling privileges should be abolished. The principle of freedom of activities of political parties and fair competition should be established. The normalization of party politics and a rule by law should be realized.
  10. Freedom of assembly: Peaceful assembly, protest, demonstration and freedom of expression are fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution. They should not be subject to unlawful interference and unconstitutional restrictions by the ruling party and the government.
  11. Freedom of expression: The freedom of speech, freedom of the press and academic freedom should be implemented. Citizens’ right to know and to monitor supervise should be protected. A press and publication law should be promulgated. The ban on freely publishing newspapers should be lifted. The current provision of “inciting subversion of state power” in the Criminal Law should be repealed and criminal punishment for speech should be eliminated.
  12. Freedom of religion: Freedom of religion and freedom of belief should be protected. Religion and politics should be separated. Religious activities should be free from government interference. All administrative regulations, administrative rules and local regulations and rules that restrict or deprive citizens’ freedom of religion should be reviewed and repealed. Management of religious activities by administrative legislature should be prohibited. The current prior approval system in which religious groups (including places of worship) must be registered before obtaining legal status should be abolished, and instead, a new record-keeping system for religious groups and their worship places should replace the current one.
  13. Citizen Education: Abolish political education and examinations that are deeply ideological and serve one-party rule. Promote citizen education that encompasses universal values and civil rights, establishes civil consciousness, and promotes the civil virtue of serving society.
  14. Property Protection: Establish and protect private property rights, implement a free and open market economy, protect the freedom of entrepreneurship, and eliminate administrative monopoly; set up a state-owned property management committee that is responsible to the highest legislative agency, initiate property rights reforms legally and orderly, make clear the property rights of owners and obligors, initiate a new land movement, advance land privatization, and strictly protect citizens’, in particular, farmers’, land rights.
  15. Fiscal Reforms: Firmly establish democracy in finance and protect taxpayers’ rights. Build a public finance system and operational mechanisms in which powers and obligations are clear, and create a reasonable and effective division of power in finance among all levels of government; implement major reforms in the tax system to reduce the tax rate, simplify the tax system, and achieve tax equity. The administrative departments should not be allowed to increase tax or create new tax arbitrarily without a social public choice and resolutions of the legislative agencies. Pass reforms on property rights, introduce diverse market subjects and competition mechanisms, lower the market-entry threshold in banking, and create conditions for the development of privately-owned banking to energize the financial system.
  16. Social Security: Build a social security system that covers all of the citizens, and provide them with fundamental protections for education, medical care, elderly care and employment.
  17. Environmental Protection: Protect the ecological environment, promote sustainable development, and take up responsibility to future generations and humanity; enforce the respective responsibilities of the state and government officials of all levels; perform the function of participation and supervision by civil organizations on environmental protection.
  18. Federal Republic: Participate in and maintain regional peace and development with an equal and fair attitude, and create an image of a responsible great country. Protect the free systems of Hong Kong and Macao. Under the precondition of freedom and democracy, seek a settlement resolution on cross-strait relations by way of equal negotiation and cooperative interaction. Explore possible ways and an institutional design to promote the mutual prospects of all ethnicities with great wisdom, and to establish China’s federal republic under the structure of democracy and constitutionalism.
  19. Transitional Justice: Rehabilitate the reputation of and give state compensation to the victims who suffered political persecution during past political movements as well as their families; release all political prisoners, prisoners of conscience, and people who are convicted because of their beliefs; establish a truth commission to restore historical truth, to pursue accountability and to fulfill justice; seek a settlement of the society on this foundation.