My Take

Hong Kong pan-democrats must show true leadership

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 July, 2014, 3:52am
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 July, 2014, 3:52am

Many pan-democrats draw inspiration from the likes of Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and Aung San Suu Kyi. That may be good for their self-image but it may not be a very good comparison. For one, they don't have to fear the midnight knock on the door that leads to permanent disappearance into the night. In fact, many of them are rather well-paid by the same government they so valiantly oppose and denounce.

They now have the power to completely paralyse the Leung Chun-ying administration and its key policies. Whether that's in the city's best interests is a different question. Rounding on Leung and Co takes as much courage and skill as shooting fish in a barrel. When the real dictatorship is still across the border, we are merely fighting against a weak dysfunctional government that is getting weaker and more discredited by the day. This is precisely why it's a moment for pan-democratic moderates to show courage and leadership. Do the hard stuff, not just the easy denunciations. It's what you go into politics for - to serve the community's long-term interests, not just follow opinion polls.

Perhaps the better historical personages to emulate are Egypt's Anwar Sadat and Ireland's Michael Collins. If a plebiscite were conducted before Sadat made his historical trip to Tel Aviv or before Collins went to London, it would be almost certain that most Arabs would not sue for peace with Israel and most Irish would not accept the partition of their country as the price for independence. By going against their people's wishes, they secured their future - but signed their own death warrant.

Political assassination is not our thing in Hong Kong and I hope it stays that way. But there will come a time soon - like what happened in 2010 - when pan-democratic moderates in the legislature will have to vote for an imperfect democracy or get nothing at all. It will be your job to make the chief executive nominating committee and the future legislature as democratic as possible. But that will still not satisfy many Hong Kong people who prefer permanent confrontation over compromise.

By going against their wishes, you will be roundly denounced. Your vote in Legco may well be a career-ending move. Will you have the courage to be true leaders when the time comes?