When toeing the DAB party line goes too far
A measure of apparent hypocrisy is found in all of us and is particularly inevitable in politicians. They must respond to changing realities as well as to the need for parties in which an individual's principles must sometimes be overridden by the compromises needed to attain power or maintain party discipline.
But there are limits to hypocrisy that must be recognised. DAB chairman Ma Lik went so far in his defence of the Communist Party - known locally as the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong - to result in him being scorned. His brain had been so thoroughly washed by years of believing everything the party told him, or wanted him to believe, that it could no long retain memory of the black events of June 4.
But Mr Ma is not the only DAB member capable of following a line dictated by the party regardless either of reality or the principles it is supposed to follow. Anything and everything can be daubed with the whitewash of 'patriotism', a word also much used by the likes of Stalin, Pol Pot and Mao Zedong to justify crimes against their own citizens.
It is, indeed, one of the merits of capitalism that its practitioners almost never deny the benefits of making money - even if they do not believe in the competition that supposedly makes capitalism work. Contrast that with the record of the DAB, supposedly the guardian of local grass-roots interests with a widening income gap.
Apparently, these representatives of the interests of the masses see nothing wrong with party members becoming billionaires, not through innovation, hard work and capitalist enterprise, but through privatisation of public assets. I refer not just to the deals that may come under scrutiny, but those where the state and party machinery is used to create wealthy individuals.
These party 'thieves' seem to believe that, now the mainland has entered a quasi-capitalist era, they are entitled to be ranked alongside the likes of tycoons including Li Ka-shing.
I wonder how Tsang Yok-sing, whose 'patriotism' led him to support the mania of the Cultural Revolution, feels about having to keep silent about such actions.
The DAB has made some efforts to push for a minimum wage. But do not expect it to expose the hypocrisy of Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen on this issue. Most of the funds contributed to Mr Tsang for his recent bogus election campaign came from the gang of big developers. In many cases, it is the estate management subsidiaries of these groups that have ignored the wage guidelines set for security guards and cleaners. They make a farce of the government's voluntary wage protection movement without a squeak from a chief executive beholden to them and only muffled grumbles from a DAB, which at the end of the day remains a creature of the Beijing party machine rather than a representative of the grass roots in Hong Kong.
Meanwhile, some developers give the impression of acting in concert to keep prices down at land auctions to enrich their companies at public expense. The deliberate decision of the government to limit the number of auction participants by not breaking up land sales into smaller lots obviously limits competition. What does the DAB have to say about that?
Even Choy So-yuk, who has better claim than most to be in touch with the grass roots, abstained from voting on the Queen's Pier issue, despite her stated opposition to the government's plans. If the DAB pawns are not prepared to break ranks with the government on that, it is no wonder that party leader Mr Ma is so deluded.
The problem with the DAB is not so much its lukewarm attitude towards democracy, but the degree of its hypocrisy on the issues of Hong Kong livelihoods and Communist Party ethics. Its members are incapable of thinking for themselves.
Philip Bowring is a Hong Kong-based journalist and commentator