It's time for Hong Kong's pan-dems to reject rejectionism
It's been a long time coming but Ronny Tong Ka-wah's resignation from the Civic Party was inevitable.
Since the government put forward the ill-fated electoral reform package earlier this year, Tong was alone among all 27 pan-democratic lawmakers in showing any wish to work with Beijing to come up with a viable compromise. In public, he seemed to spend more time travelling with Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor consulting the public than with his own party faithfuls.
Meanwhile, the party which he co-founded almost a decade ago joined the other radicals to adopt a wholesale rejectionist stance. It was not enough for his party to reject the package, but its leaders, such as Alan Leong Kah-kit, never missed an opportunity to thumb their noses at Beijing and insult local officials in the bluntest terms.
Effectively, Leong and his party have become no different from People Power's Albert Chan Wai-yip and League of Social Democrats' "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung, except he wears a suit.
All three political groupings have few alternative policy proposals to offer other than denouncing the Leung Chun-ying administration and Beijing. If this is all that an opposition needs to do at considerable public expense, then literally anyone can do their job. No wonder more intelligent and farsighted people like Tong have become disillusioned with the pan-democratic movement in the aftermath of Legco's rejection of the reform package.
But to be fair, the same can be, and has been, said about most of the bumbling and unprofessional pro-establishment legislators.
By quitting, I assume Tong wants to set an example for other pan-dems to pursue the following. The pan-dems need to prove they are worthy and capable of holding power. This means first setting up shadow cabinets to track the agendas of the key policy bureaus and offer not only criticism but policy alternatives. The kind of "just say no" rejectionism of Leong, Chan and Leung is rapidly losing credibility and getting tiresome for the public.
Secondly, pan-dems need to start practising what has been called "internal diplomacy" by raising dealings with Beijing to a more professional level.
I wish Tong well in his future endeavours to serve the people of Hong Kong.