Politics of Macau

No in-between

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 April, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 April, 2010, 12:00am

Former Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference member Lau Nai-keung, who is a member of the Basic Law Committee, continued to hide behind the cover that pro-establishment politicians are not 'royalists' to launch his attack against the by-elections this week. But, he fired his criticism directly at the administration. I do not agree with Lau's notion of the definition of 'pro-establishment'. It is more than just faction values; we are talking about the big picture affecting political principles and governance issues.

The problem is that some pro-establishment members who do not understand the intricate workings of the political process might take Lau's words at face value. They might think that being pro-establishment doesn't mean they need to provide a political 'escort' for the government in policymaking. On the contrary, they might join the opposition.

In the end, not only will it damage the administration's authority, and thus affect governance, it will also hurt the interests of the pro-establishment camp. Like the Chinese saying, 'With the skin gone, what can the hair attach itself to?' - that depicts a close partnership - the pro-establishment camp needs to be reminded that, if it keeps attacking the government, it is in effect trying to destroy its own habitat.

After the handover, Hong Kong has continued its way of life under the 'one country, two systems' principle with Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong. According to Article 2 of the Basic Law, the special administrative region has a high degree of autonomy and enjoys executive, legislative and independent judicial power, including that of final adjudication.

Article 45 stipulates how the chief executive should be selected, and the central government has total authority over issues that concern foreign policy and defence. Apart from these, the Hong Kong government has full executive power in formulating polices and in governance, hence leaving intact its executive-led system.

With the abolition of the appointment system, the government does not even have a single representative vote in the Legislative Council, which is a huge stumbling block for governance. So, to keep a proper balance, it has to rely on support from the pro-establishment camp, otherwise every policy proposal would be thrown out by the opposition.

Thus, it is not difficult to appreciate that members of the pro-establishment camp are an inherent part of government, whenever and wherever they are, including inside Legco. Therefore, it is an undeniable fact that pro-establishment members are 'royalists'. And, without them, there is no way the government can function properly.

Just for argument's sake, if members of the pro-establishment camp do not want to be part of this faction, there is only one choice: sell their souls to capitalists.

They can follow in the footsteps of catering sector lawmaker Tommy Cheung Yu-yan, who proposed to set the minimum wage at HK$20 or below.

Cheung has made himself quite unpopular inside and outside Legco. He fought vehemently against the smoking ban and food labelling. Many see him as the defender of the conglomerates, protecting their interests at the expense of the public.

His conduct has not only embarrassed the government, but also his political party and constituents. Many have criticised him for further aggravating the political mistrust between functional constituency members and the public.

If pro-establishment lawmakers want to go down the same path, they will be digging a hole for themselves, making enemies on all sides. If that happens, they may as well give up the fight to preserve the functional constituency system.

Paramount leader Deng Xiaoping said the chief executive had to be a patriot who loved China and Hong Kong, and formed the core of the establishment. Being pro-establishment means being an inseparable part of the core entity. There is no in-between; you are either in or you are out. There is no split loyalty.

Albert Cheng King-hon is a political commentator