Time for constructive politics to achieve universal suffrage

PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 10 December, 2012, 1:28am

Politics is about power and policy. Even with the best policy ideas, it's academic in every sense of the word if you don't have the power to put them into practice. This is why all politicians must seek power. The means and methods - whether violent or peaceful, foul or fair - depend greatly on the nature of the systems. And once in power, leaders must also seek to keep it.

For our chief executive, this means getting a second term. For his opponents among the pan-democrats and even many establishment figures, it means denying it to him. Since Leung Chun-ying began with little support from any major sector of society, his unpopularity has been easily exploited to the full. There is all the noise from his enemies about the need for integrity and honesty, and that's why we grill him over illegal structures at his Peak home. But the real purpose is to make sure his government gets nothing done and Leung becomes so unpopular or even hated as to make a second term impossible. The pan-dems and their media allies have done the destructive part well. As things stand, Leung will be "finished" long before his first term ends.

Still, there needs to be electoral reform for the 2016 Legco election to pave the way for a fully elected legislature in 2020; and for the 2017 chief executive election by universal suffrage. Now we should ask the pan-dems to do the constructive bit: spell out the details of the democratic system you want and how to get there.

I may be cynical about many of the pan-dems but still share their ultimate goal: full voting rights for every adult Hong Kong resident. I believe universal suffrage is not a question of "if" but "when". And if it's inevitable, it's better to have it sooner rather than later.

I also believe it's possible to work with Beijing in good faith to try to bring about full democracy. In any case, what choice do we have, since there can be no real political reform without the green light from Beijing? Denouncing Beijing as Lucifer-incarnate gets us nowhere, except self-satisfaction for egoistic moralists and opportunists. Intransigence will guarantee political paralysis and the deferring of full democracy.

Democrats who risk bargaining with Beijing will be denounced as traitors by their own camp. Who, then, has the courage to do what's right for Hong Kong?