Insanity has been described as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. So it's intriguing that our chief executives keep allowing motions of thanks for their policy addresses to be tabled in the legislature only for them to be rejected.
The latest on Friday is the ninth rejection since the handover in 1997. In this political climate, was there any doubt that any such motion would inevitably be voted down, making it a guaranteed face-losing exercise for the government?
Such motions need a majority in the functional and geographical constituencies. Given the pan-dems' majority in the latter, the latest motion faced certain defeat.
The tradition dates back to the colonial era when the Legislative Council was a rubber stamp populated by sycophants and lapdogs. It was an annual device to kiss up to colonial governors. Now it's an annual ritual to beat up the chief executive.
Such motions are traditionally tabled by the chairman of Legco's House Committee. Given how our system works after the handover, that post inevitably goes to someone from the so-called pro-establishment sector. Perhaps those from the rotten boroughs haven't noticed; by continuing this tradition, they have offered another forum for pan-democrats to round on the government and score political points.
Why not call a spade a spade, I asked Civic Party lawmaker Ronny Tong Ka-wah yesterday, and simply turn it into a debate motion on the policy address? Tong said it had in fact been discussed that the motion should use more neutral language instead of "thanks" and it was mostly the pro-government gang who insisted on tabling it using the "thank you" wording.
Well, if Tong is right, that's insanity if they think they are doing the government a favour. The latest debate took 32 hours over three days. It wasn't a complete waste as some serious and justified criticisms of Leung Chun-ying's policy address and governance problems were made, but it was, as you would expect, mostly grandstanding by lawmakers.
Only a colonial and subservient Legco would thank the government for its policies. In real democracies, the opposition would inevitably round on the government.
It's time to end this anachronistic tradition.