New Year rally supporting Leung shames the city

Albert Cheng faults their antagonistic attitude towards the media, dodgy allies, and suspected practice of recruiting and paying 'demonstrators'

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 11 January, 2013, 2:27am

There is an old Chinese saying that "a man must despise himself before others will". It was shameful that some questionable groups, including suspected triad members, apparently took part in the rally on New Year's Day to support Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.

The incident embarrassed not only the pro-establishment camp, but also Beijing's liaison office in Hong Kong and the central government.

Leung was thick-skinned enough to ignore the vociferous protests on July 1 last year when he took office. Ever since, Hong Kong has seen its political and social conflicts worsen.

Conflict exists not only between the pro-democracy and the pro-establishment camps. We are now seeing worsening conflict within the pro-government camp, with a number of factions forming.

Leung's fatal flaw is trusting the wrong person and listening to the wrong advice from his "comrade" - Shiu Sin-por, head of the Central Policy Unit. Shiu said recently that the think tank is a government tool responsible for selling its policies. He also stressed that the administration must engage in a public relations battle to win support. It's obvious that the government is taking a more aggressive approach in pushing its policies.

Meanwhile, pro-government groups are also coming out of the woodwork to show their support for Leung, which was evident during the New Year's Day march. These supporters were antagonistic and aggressive towards reporters and the anti-government crowd.

This kind of behaviour will only intensify the conflicts caused both by the political divisions and our social problems. In the end, it will only smear the civilised image of Hong Kong.

This kind of manipulation - to provoke the people and turn them against each other - was a common strategy during the Cultural Revolution. It has been consigned to history by the new generation of Communist Party leaders. Nobody would have expected Leung to resort to this. The truth is that it benefits no one.

This kind of manipulative strategy is mutually destructive and will polarise the community. It is also not convincing; these so-called pro-Leung supporters are equivalent to mercenaries because they are motivated by money. Allowing this kind of political strategy to continue will tarnish Hong Kong's international image.

Yet, we may not have seen the worst of it. On New Year's Day, we witnessed the participation of suspected triad society members in the march. According to some newspaper reports, they helped to "recruit" participants who were paid between HK$200 and HK$300.

It was a dark day for Hong Kong and its people.

Xinhua News Agency reported the New Year's Day march as it was - an attempt by anti-Leung protesters to force him to step down. This unusually honest reporting by the state-controlled news agency showed that Beijing now views Leung as political baggage and wants to disassociate itself from him.

In hindsight, Leung must know that the show he put on was a farce and a total waste of time. Not only was he fully exposed and embarrassed in front of his Beijing bosses, it could be the final straw.

Hongkongers must stand united to force Leung to step down and use the impeachment process to reinforce the principle of "Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong".

If the central government genuinely wants the public to know that this is still the case, and that we still have "one country, two systems" and a high degree of autonomy, it must allow the pro-government camp to support impeachment.

Unfortunately, the impeachment motion was voted down in the Legislative Council on Wednesday, exposing the pro-government camp's lack of political sense - the move put the ball in Beijing's court to carry out the dirty work of removing Leung from office.

Very often, it's impossible to avoid natural disasters. But we can prevent man-made ones. We need to stop the Leung disaster from escalating.

Former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang reportedly said that because the central government doesn't seem to have a solid plan to replace Leung, it is therefore impractical to force him to resign at this stage.

She suggested that he should be given more time to implement his policies and suggested that Leung should take heed of public concerns in order to gain public support and confidence.

What a shock to hear these words from Chan, once dubbed "Hong Kong's conscience". Has she accepted Leung and the Chinese Communist Party's biased views and twisted logic?

We certainly should not accept a leader without credibility and with low moral standards. Let's hope Chan's comments have been misinterpreted. We still believe in what Hong Kong stands for and have faith in our conscience.

Albert Cheng King-hon is a political commentator.