Hong Kong’s leader should quit when he is ahead or he may pay the price

Flush with victory after succeeding in getting newly elected lawmakers Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching stripped of their Legco seats by the High Court, our fearless leader appears to be chomping at the bit for round two with gloves off.

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 December, 2016, 8:01am
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 December, 2016, 9:28am

I have five words for Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying: “Quit when you are ahead.”

I say this while struggling to understand the rationale behind his latest move to have four more pro-democracy lawmakers kicked out of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council for messing around with their oaths during last month’s swearing-in ceremony.

Flush with victory after succeeding in getting newly elected lawmakers Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching stripped of their Legco seats by the High Court, our fearless leader appears to be chomping at the bit for round two with gloves off. He’s now going after newcomers Nathan Law Kwun-chung, Lau Siu-lai and Edward Yiu Chung-yim, as well as that old mischief maker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung.

Now let’s be fair here. Yau and Baggio Leung pretty much deserved what they got. At their swearing-in, they displayed a “Hong Kong is not China” banner, and distorted the pledge of allegiance to their sovereign nation by using the equivalent of the n-word for China.

All this was in front of the world’s cameras and hugely embarrassing for both the city and the nation. Which parliament in the world, no matter how democratically advanced, would allow such trashy behaviour without retribution? As you sow, so you reap. The message is crystal clear to any future would-be oath mangler.

Even many of the people who voted Yau and Baggio Leung into the legislature, counting on them to shake things up, were repulsed by their antics and dismayed that they had squandered a golden opportunity to officially represent the rebellious youth demographic.

This new batch of targets for political assassination is another matter altogether. Their oath-taking antics were mild, compared with the other two. They command a substantial mandate, whether you like it or not. And unlike the terrible twins, they shied away from advocating independence. Why suddenly move the goalposts and resort to arbitrary parameters in deciding what constitutes a separatist offence?

Getting these lawmakers kicked out of Legco may prove hugely counter-productive, starting with a public backlash that the chief executive may not be able to handle. Is he just being incredibly obtuse and vindictive with this new legal offensive, or is he under orders from up north to be merciless?

When you defeat your enemies, there’s no need to mount their heads on pikes and drag their bodies around the city walls. Quit when you are ahead.