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  • Apr 19, 2014
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My Take
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 24 May, 2013, 7:55am

A dangerous demagogue in our midst

Among democrats everywhere, you inevitably find a few demagogues. They are the most extreme, and reject any accommodation and compromise.

They dismiss mainstream democrats as traitors to the cause and run their own fringe groups. But in time, even these more extremist groups are not to their liking; and they go their own way, taking their diehard followers with them. Since their following is often substantial, especially among the young and disenfranchised, they are a substantial political force to reckon with even if they have no real popular support.

For such people, politics is not the art of the possible. Negotiations, the bread and butter of political exchange, are foreign to them. They feed on public anger and resentment, and use immoderate, often coarse, language to denounce not only their opponents, but moderates within their own democratic camp. They are often failures in everything they do, and the only path they have to power and influence is through demagoguery.

In Hong Kong, lawmaker Wong Yuk-man is such a demagogue. The way he and his followers protest must be seen to be believed. Most local protesters don't march in sync, even if they all take part in the same rally. Wong leads his followers into battle with police like a godfather commanding his private army.

Mainstream pan-democrats fear his tactics and denunciations. More than anyone else, he helped blacken the reputation of the Democratic Party for compromising with Beijing over the electoral reform package in 2010. What that party lost in the legislative election last year, radicals like Wong gained. He co-founded the League of Social Democrats with fellow lawmakers "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung and Albert Chan Wai-yip. Then he broke off with the league and founded People Power with Chan. Now, he's tired of People Power and wants to boost his own parties like the peculiarly named Proletariat Political Institute. As far as I know, only Leung, not Wong, has ever professed to be a Marxist.

When a community becomes highly polarised, you always find people like Wong. That's why Beijing and Leung Chun-ying should work seriously with mainstream pan-dems on full democracy before it's too late.

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norodnik
Another vapid diatribe from the South China Daily Morning Post.....
John Adams
1.“...Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide. It is in vain to say that democracy is less vain, less proud, less selfish, less ambitious, or less avaricious than aristocracy or monarchy. It is not true, in fact, and nowhere appears in history. Those passions are the same in all men, under all forms of simple government, and when unchecked, produce the same effects of fraud, violence, and cruelty. When clear prospects are opened before vanity, pride, avarice, or ambition, for their easy gratification, it is hard for the most considerate philosophers and the most conscientious moralists to resist the temptation. Individuals have conquered themselves. Nations and large bodies of men, never.
- John Adams, letter to John Taylor (15 April 1814).

2.“A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine. ”
- Thomas Jefferson
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3.President Johnson's Civil Rights Act of 1964 was the true turning point in the USA's history of beginning to embrace blacks as full citizens with equal rights ... as regards the principle of "one man one vote" IN PRACTICE . instead of just in theory (according to the Constitution) *
- Wikipedia
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(*... which makes the USA as a 'true democracy' 15 years younger than the PRC if my 19 century math is correct )
layleng
You must have a lot of time on your hands Mr. Addams to have trawled so many American writings on democracy in order to come up with three highly selective quotes out of context. Or do you just keep ammunition like that handy in between the dog-eared pages of your personal copy of the Quotations of Chairman Mao?
Your math is correct because 1964 minus 1949 equals 15. But your application implies that true democracy came to China in 1949 and everyone in the world outside of China knows that isn't true, at least not in this world, in this universe and at this time in this version of reality. So, even by your disingenuous reckoning, if the USA did not become a true democracy until 1964, it is still a true democracy that is 49 years older than China as of this year . . . and still counting.
I guess your education gave you an A in Math and in Communist Party Rhetoric but you failed Logic, History and Political Science. Also English. That's 19th Century, not 19 century as in one thousand nine hundred years.
caractacus
Is Wong really dangerous if the majority of people don't take him seriously? It is hardly as if he has a para-military force of Brownshirts beating up people and breaking windows. The comparison with Hitler is laughable considering what is just over the border.........
John Adams
A very astute article Mr Lo. Thanks for writing clearly what I'm sure over 99% of HK feels.
I guess now that Mr Wong Yuk-man will now found the "Democratic Alliance For Toppling All Who Disagree With Wong Chuk-Man" - DAAFTAWDWWCM
PS: For those who argue that Mr Wong was fairly elected in his constituency I say : yes that's fair and correct and he has every right to sit in LEGCO as long as he is still elected. But I also point out in all fairness that every democratic society elects a few fringe extremists from time to time who often do untold damage to society until they are removed. One of the main purposes of a mature democracy is to have sufficient in-built checks and balances that such extremists cannot do too much damage until they are removed by the electorate. Never forget that Hitler was 'democratically' elected by a radical minority, as also were a few other demagogues in recent history.
ianson
Big headline, small article. Not a single word supporting the suggestion Wong is in any sense "dangerous". To the extent Wong pulls the debate in the direction of Hong Kong becoming a democratic region and away from the shockingly dangerous police state to which we belong, he has done a service to the long-term safety of Hong Kong people. It clearly sickens Wong to have anything to do with the corrupt and illegitimate Communist Party regime which poses an real and present danger to Hong Kong. Gutless sycophant Lo, on the other hand, is more than happy to go to bed with them.
anson
'...after he quitted'???
layleng
Good catch. Something the SCMP Editor in Chief should have caught but did not. Seems as though English isn't his first or second language.

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