Pan-democratic movement weakened by splits
As I have considered a better political future in Hong Kong, I have always supported the pan-democrats as a source from which a future government might be drawn.
Within their ranks, there are many smart, experienced, deeply committed members - people who often applied themselves at significant personal cost to advance political reform.
Today, though, what does one mainly see?
Above all, sadly, a movement beset by chronic "competitive splittism" resulting in most of that past potential being directed so negatively that it is now hard to imagine how this group could run a small business effectively, let alone the government of the Hong Kong SAR.
The pan-democrats have, rather successfully, it must be said, pioneered new levels of high-velocity negative campaigning in the city during 2012.
Their "crusading wing" has set the negative, disruptive agenda, whether by rendering the Legislative Council more dysfunctional than ever before or by shouting down attempts by the new government to run its "town hall" consultative meetings. (Are not freedom of expression and assembly core values available to all in Hong Kong?)
Mainstream pan-democrats have either fallen in behind this lead or largely sat on their hands.
Without question, the notably restricted form of democracy thus far allowed in Hong Kong has been a source of deep political frustration.
This reality amplifies the need to hold government (and Beijing) to account, and certainly this new government, the first in decades (national education blunder notwithstanding) to make poverty reduction and enhanced social justice key public policy objectives.
But this holding to account should be done in a basically proportionate way.
Pan-democrats have rightly been in the vanguard post-1997 in demanding that the government and its agencies (not least the police) use proportionality as a fundamental parameter.
Bitter and rather divisive campaigns stressing the danger of "reds under the bed" do not satisfy this test; not least because, as a by-product, they give a tacit green light to increased levels of anti-mainlander discrimination.
When you look towards the political moral high ground in Hong Kong today, you now see a vacant lot. This is most unfortunate.
Richard Cullen, Sham Shui Po