The pan-democrats put on a show of unity last week by forming the Alliance for True Democracy to fight for "genuine" universal suffrage. But despite all that hand-holding for the photo op, there is no unity in this camp. Just their sheer number - 12 political groups - gives away the charade.
Unity was first scattered in 2010 when the Democrats - wisely - accepted the government's democratic reform package, leading to more than half of the lawmakers now being directly elected. But their decision split the camp, whose breakaway factions have become more extreme and ridiculous by the day, and pulling the once-moderate Civic Party in their direction. After being denounced as traitors, it is doubtful the Democrats would find such moral courage again.
All they can agree on now is to tear to shreds any government democratic reform package, whatever it may contain. The Civic Party and the new alliance have made vague noises about putting forward a consensus plan.
I am not holding my breath.
Any pan-dem group brave or foolhardy enough to put forward feasible direct-election blueprints for the 2017 chief executive race and the 2020 legislature or thereafter is bound to shatter any fiction of unity and divide the camp even further.
So the pan-dems are likely to come up with a plan that is a complete non-starter as far as Beijing and the Hong Kong government are concerned.
Uncompromising groups within the alliance such as People Power have vowed to derail any plan that does not include direct election for the 2016 Legco. Most Hong Kong people realise the 2016 election could be no more than a transition to a fully elected Legco four years later. Why? Because Beijing says so. But instead of focusing on devising a feasible transitional voting system that would achieve full voting in 2020, some radicals are using the 2016 poll as an excuse for a veto.
Who knows what other absurd veto conditions the League of Social Democrats and Neo Democrats have up their sleeves?
In sum, the pan-dems can maintain unity only by letting the fringe groups take over. Our democratic agenda is being hijacked by people who, in the name of democracy, are making it even more difficult for Hong Kong to achieve it.