Hong Kong's democracy fighters stumble from defeat to defeat

Michael Chugani says our fumbling democracy fighters are as much to blame as Beijing for our lacklustre democratic progress

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 September, 2014, 12:51pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 06 September, 2014, 1:39am

Outplayed and outgunned - there is no other way to describe the democracy camp's defeat by our Beijing bosses. Fighting for democracy is a noble cause. But those who fought for it on our behalf had no clue what they were up against. Worse still, they were leaderless and disorganised. They could not even clearly define what kind of victory they were after.

They turned what should have been a fight conducted on high moral ground into one characterised by banana-throwing, infighting, double standards and silly claims of white terror when things went against them. They alienated people by deriding as Beijing puppets those who supported democracy but disagreed with their tactics.

They made heroes of people such as Ricky Wong Wai-kay and radio host Li Wei-ling just because one was refused a TV licence and the other was sacked. They even made ludicrous claims that the treatment of the two, and the knifing attack on former Ming Pao editor Kevin Lau Chun-to, was proof of a campaign by Beijing and Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying to muzzle the Hong Kong media.

They accused the Independent Commission Against Corruption of political persecution for searching the premises of Apple Daily owner Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, his aide Mark Simon and legislator Lee Cheuk-yan. The law required the ICAC to act because it had received allegations of wrongdoing involving Lai's donations to democracy camp leaders. It had search warrants issued by the High Court. By labelling the searches as political persecution, are the democrats saying High Court judges had conspired with the ICAC to persecute them?

Delusions of grandeur marked their democracy campaign. They called it a struggle, as if they were in the same league as Aung San Suu Kyi and Nelson Mandela. If Suu Kyi had been allowed out of house arrest to join a democracy march, she would not have sneaked away to a beauty parlour as Anson Chan Fang On-sang did. Mandela would turn in his grave if he knew our democracy leaders had chauffeurs to drive them to dinner after a march. So would Gandhi if he knew Lai plots our freedom struggle aboard his private yacht.

At times, it was hard to distinguish whether they were fighting for Hong Kong democracy or against China's Communist Party. Blurring the line between the two was their greatest folly. It is none of our business that China is a one-party state, yet our democracy fighters made it their business.

If they had limited their fight to just democracy for Hong Kong, Beijing may not have taken such a harsh line over political reforms. But they linked it with their contempt for the party. And their Occupy Central threat gave Beijing the excuse to link our reforms with national security.

Now they want to snatch further defeat from the jaws of defeat. They will press ahead with Occupy Central even though its threat value has been neutralised. And they plan to vote down the limited reforms Beijing has allowed, even though we would be offered the exact same reforms in future if we say "no" now.

Michael Chugani is a columnist and TV show host. mickchug@gmail.com