My Take

Silent DAB is failing HK over reform

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 November, 2013, 1:27am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 November, 2013, 1:27am

As Hong Kong's dominant pro-establishment political party, the DAB is abdicating its responsibility over political reform. Since it has the ear of the central government, it should be at the forefront of the debate. Instead, it has deliberately hidden away and failed to put forward any ideas.

That, I take it, is the substance of Allen Lee Peng-fei's criticism of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong at a Sunday forum. Lee called it tragic; disgraceful is a better word. It's especially appalling when many senior DAB members hold top government positions: Lau Kong-wah, undersecretary for constitutional and mainland affairs; Greg So Kam-leung, the commerce and economic development chief, Executive and Legislative Council member Starry Lee Wai-king, Legco president Tsang Yok-sing and his brother, home affairs chief Tsang Tak-sing.

It's hard to avoid the impression that it is no more than a party machine to win elections, raise funds for friendly groups and attract well-paid jobs for its members in the public sector.

Sunday's forum was led by prominent barristers and law professors like Alan Hoo, Ronny Tong Ka-wah and Johannes Chan Man-mum - who together represent a wide political spectrum - along with Lee. It concluded - what a suggestion! - that dominant political parties like the DAB should work with each other on the way forward over political reform. That should have been obvious and gone without saying.

But in our highly polarised city, no one seems to have thought of talking to each other. Pointing fingers, screaming loudly and denouncing the other side has become the default mode of interactions, starting with lawmakers.

The more uncompromising pan-democratic groups can put out the most abstract and unrealistic proposals, and then denounce the government for subverting "democracy". But the DAB, by being beholden to the government and Beijing, must table ideas that are more realistic. If it would take the initiative to debate the pan-dems, it might force them to inject some realism into their radical reform campaign.

The DAB has ridden the gravy train long enough; it's time to do something for the people of Hong Kong at this crucial time.