In 2010, after the Democratic Party struck a deal with the central government's liaison office to let the constitutional reform bill pass, it was ostracised by the rest of the dissident camp. The party paid the price, losing members as well as seats.
Now, suddenly, entering into direct dialogue with the central government has become the vogue, so much so that the dissidents are now organising the Occupy Central campaign to coerce the central government into coming to the bargaining table. The difference is that this time the Democratic Party cannot enjoy the privilege of monopolising the dialogue; it is now absorbed into part of the Alliance for True Democracy, which the central government must negotiate with. Problem is, this alliance does not speak for all dissidents and there are many proposals floating around.
Whether members of the alliance, which is supposed to comprise 26 pan-democratic Legislative Council members, will vote en bloc for a compromise reform bill is still unclear. At the moment there does not seem to be a one-size-fits-all solution on the horizon.
From a practical point of view, the central government will still have to target the Democratic Party as a bloc. There is no use scavenging votes from splintering political groups in Legco, as it is not cost-effective and, after all, totally unreliable, as demonstrated by the sad experience in 2007 when what originally appeared to be just short of one vote turned out to be a total flop.
To get the bill on universal suffrage passed, the SAR government needs to secure five bloc votes from the dissident camp in the Legislative Council and they conveniently lie in the pocket of the Democratic Party.
It would appear foolhardy for the Democrats to step forward to be hurt a second time in exactly the same situation. But the expectation to exercise the right of universal suffrage among the public is so high that striking a compromise with the central government the second time despite the previous political setback could be painted as an act of principle, and thus an act of bravery.
The party might even go on to win a landslide victory in the district council elections in 2015 and Legislative Council election in 2016; who knows? This is politics. Alas, maverick is what our Democratic Party isn't.
If they fail to secure the bloc vote of the Democratic Party, there are only two options left for the central and SAR governments. Either yield to dissidents' demands, or, as Benny Tai Yiu-ting et al threaten time and again, face another Tiananmen Square incident.
The fatal shortfall of this ploy is that the dissidents see only two players in this game: them against the central government. Despite their demand for "genuine" universal suffrage, our dissidents never have the people in their hearts and minds.
They see people as pawns on the chessboard. From their self-proclaimed moral high ground, our dissidents think that they are empowered to sacrifice our welfare at will to achieve their objective, which they insist should be good for us.
The citizens of London can afford to wait several hundred years to enjoy a fully elected Greater London Authority, formed as recently as 2000.
So why should Hong Kong citizens be hijacked by a bunch of second-class politicians and academics and forced to pay the high price of another Tiananmen Square incident just to create an electoral method to ensure dissidents must enjoy an entry ticket? How dare this alliance claim that they represent our wishes?
You call this democracy? Last time such nonsense took place, it was called fascism. Though it is politically incorrect and therefore highly unpopular, I would remind our readers that Hitler was also popularly elected.
Lau Nai-keung is a member of the Basic Law Committee of the NPC Standing Committee, and also a member of the Commission on Strategic Development