Democrats fight 'white terror' campaign tactics

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 November, 2007, 12:00am

Pan-democrats yesterday condemned Beijing loyalists for a campaign of 'white terror' over a newspaper article in which legislator Martin Lee Chu-ming urged US President George W. Bush to press the mainland to improve human rights ahead of the 2008 Olympic Games.

Beijing loyalists, meanwhile, stepped up their campaign by distributing leaflets challenging Mr Lee's denial he had invited foreign interference in China's affairs and that he was a traitor.

The leaflets carry what the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong says are facts that support its condemnation of Mr Lee for inviting foreign interference.

The DAB said the leaflets were election materials, and denied using smear tactics to win votes.

'We only want to tell the public what Martin Lee said. How can he deny what he has done?' DAB vice-chairman Lau Kong-wah said.

The leaflets titled 'The facts are there, no room for denial' have been sent to the party's district council election candidates across Hong Kong for distribution.

They carry excerpts from seven newspaper editorials unfavourable to Mr Lee, some calling him a traitor and others asking him to apologise. In their strongest protest to date over the row, 23 pan-democrats issued a statement condemning Beijing loyalists for 'distorting the truth' for electoral gain.

'We do not wish to see our community unknowingly condoning senseless attacks on people with different political inclinations as if we were back in the Cultural Revolution days,' the statement said.

Democratic Party chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan said opponents had a systematic and escalating 'smear campaign' that gravely threatened freedom of speech.

Ronny Tong Ka-wah, of the Civic Party, said that while it was normal for people to have political differences, the way Beijing loyalists had twisted the meaning of Mr Lee's views was sad for Hong Kong.

'We cannot let people confuse truth with lies, otherwise the white terror which is being spread will intensify,' he said.

In his article published on October 17, the hub of the row, Mr Lee notes the Olympics will afford an opportunity for 'direct engagement' between the international community and China, but he does not call for a boycott of the Games over human rights concerns, as alleged by some Beijing loyalists.