Politics abhors a vacuum
Pro-government political parties have boycotted the coming by-elections triggered by the resignations of five pan-democrat lawmakers to avoid what they see as a contest that could lend legitimacy to calls for a so-called de facto referendum on democracy. But one of the boycotting parties may be rueing a missed opportunity. Likewise, but for different reasons, the League of Social Democrats and the Civic Party. They are now calling for more people to stand to ensure the polls are properly competitive but may be wondering if what is developing is really what they intended. Yesterday two former league members announced they would stand in New Territories West and Kowloon West. With student activists planning to contest all five constituencies, this pits three pro-democracy candidates against one another in the two seats - a classic vote-splitting scenario if ever we saw one. So where is the pro-government candidate ready to take advantage of this? One key Liberal Party member recently said the party had wanted to field Michael Tien Puk-sun in one of the two seats, but backed down because of Beijing's displeasure at any participation in the by-elections. Party members must be banging their heads against the wall over the opportunity that is going begging.
'July 1 route' bids for carnival atmosphere
Having already been labelled as radicals inciting an uprising, the Civic Party and the League of Social Democrats are trying to create a peaceful image for the protest march from Victoria Park to government headquarters in Central today. Organisers say it is taking the 'July 1 route' in a bid to recapture the carnival atmosphere of the first July 1 march in 2003. Cynics may note, however, that most protest marches take that route and not all have been happy or particularly peaceful. Further attracting the interest of those who see the parties as dangerous revolutionaries will be the call for participants to wear yellow to show support for the 'referendum'. An organiser admits it may raise suspicions marchers are trying to start a 'colour revolution' like those that swept through former Soviet states. While noted for their non-violence, those marches did stem from anti-communist sentiment. Perish the thought.
'Long Hair' keeps the faith for Easter march
As it's Easter, the 'referendum' organisers can be forgiven for attaching their own characteristics to the meaning of blind faith. Today's march could become a barometer for public support but early signs have been poor. The Democratic Party voted against supporting the movement, and a survey has suggested the turnout could be as low as 25 per cent. But former legislator now by-election candidate Leung Kwok-hung says he still has faith in the people: 'I don't believe Hong Kong people will fail to come out to vote,' he said. Will 'Long Hair's' faith prove justified?
Farmyard language knows no age barriers
There was a time when RTHK's City Forum was the de facto speaker's corner for the 'angry old men' of Victoria Park. Any pan-democrat invited to speak would have to face a torrent of reactionary abuse from these old hecklers. Democratic Party vice-chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing, in particular, used to be an easy target for their accusations of being a spy and a dog. But it seems, these old men are beginning to lose their seats, with young people and new strategies ready to steal the limelight. Each public debate is now flooded with youngsters. However, the language of abuse seems to be cross-generational. While pan-democrats were labelled treacherous dogs, pro-establishment figures with entrenched privileges are now worthless pigs. Politics: it's an animal sport.