"Never the twain shall meet."
This Post headline crystallises for me why the pan-democratic camp has become so radicalised and why that bodes ill for Hong Kong's future.
A reference to a famous poem of arch-imperialist Rudyard Kipling, it causes me - please excuse the inelegance - to think this is what the pan-dems really want: Hong Kong is Hong Kong and the mainland is the mainland, and never the twain shall meet.
Whether they admit it or not, this is the hidden aspiration of many if not most of the pan-democrats, along with their supporters among the post-1980s and 1990s generations.
This is why any attempt by the government to maintain or promote good relations with any mainland authority is automatically suspect, and why Beijing's liaison office cannot make the most innocuous pronouncement or gesture without being denounced as interfering in Hong Kong affairs.
Take, for example, the appearance of the office's new chief, Zhang Xiaoming, at a youth forum this week. A policy wonk and career expert on local affairs, Zhang is more qualified than most of his predecessors. But he was criticised for keeping a low profile since his appointment more than a month ago by critics who suspect he may harbour hidden nefarious intent. Now that he has made a public speech defending his office as having a legitimate role in the city, he is rounded on for, well, showing up!
Democratic Party boss Emily Lau Wai-hing said Zhang must show restraint. She said, and I am not making this up: "Whether you travel on the MTR or in a car, or whether you see subdivided flats or luxurious mansions on The Peak, don't come out and make irresponsible comments."
Actually, all Zhang has disclosed is that he had travelled on the MTR and visited a low-income neighbourhood to learn more about local livelihood issues. It used to be that Beijing's interference meant meatier actions like pressing the government to legislate for an anti-subversion law. Now a visit to poor people or accident victims qualifies as such.
It seems nothing mainland officials do will satisfy the pan-dems other than folding up tents and going home. Alas, that will never happen.