Hong Kong pan-democrats keep an eye on each other with liaison group
If Beijing is trying to draw so-called moderate pan-democrats into its orbit, it has a long way to go.
That was the strategy Michael Tien Puk-sun, the New People's Party lawmaker, claimed Beijing was aiming at after attending the massive military parade in the capital earlier this month.
The idea is that together with moderate pan-dem and pro-establishment legislators, the Hong Kong government would have the two-thirds majority needed to restart the failed electoral reform. It would also make life easier for the government seeking legislative approval on other issues.
But no sooner did Tien finish pontificating on Beijing's supposed strategy than most of the pan-dems in the legislature declared a new united front.
Twenty-two pan-democratic lawmakers have set up a four-member liaison group to inform one another about any future contact with officials from the central government.
Labour Party lawmaker Cyd Ho Sau-lan, a group member, said this would enhance trust within the highly fractured camp. No doubt it was aimed at preventing anyone from starting negotiations and cutting deals with Beijing.
The formation of the group came after the Democratic Party led by chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing met Feng Wei, deputy director of the State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, last month behind closed doors.
Depending on your politics, it was either an olive branch from Beijing or a dastardly attempt to drive a wedge within the pan-democratic camp.
No prior announcement about the meeting was made. Initially, the Democrats took a lot of heat from fellow pan-dems. After all, they were the ones who cut a deal with Beijing in 2010 to make possible the expansion of the franchise in the 2012 Legislative Council election.
But it soon transpired that the general public overwhelmingly supported greater dialogue between the pan-dems and Beijing. Denouncing the Democrats may appeal to the camp's hardcore fanatics. But there are district council elections in November and more moderate mainstream voters to worry about.
So the 22 lawmakers came up with this new liaison group to keep an eye on everyone instead of denouncing each other as traitors.