MY TAKE
My Take
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Democrats’ leader Wu Chi-wai is digging party’s own grave

His hare-brained ideas, including an amnesty for everyone charged or jailed over Occupy protests, have drawn criticism from across the political spectrum

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 April, 2017, 1:22am
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 April, 2017, 1:22am

The Democratic Party is not what it once was. And under Wu Chi-wai, it’s in danger of fading into irrelevance. The Democrats’ chairman seems to have an uncanny ability to inflict self-harm on his own party and the larger pan-democratic cause.

His latest hare-brained idea was to call on chief executive-elect Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor to use her powers under the Basic Law to pardon Occupy participants who have been charged or jailed, including the seven police officers imprisoned for assaulting activist Ken Tsang Kin-chiu and former superintendent Chu King-wai, who is facing trial for assault.

Wu had to retract his proposal and apologised in less than a day. His motive, he said, was to help with reconciliation between the opposing camps. What he did manage was to upset everyone from across the political spectrum. The blue- and yellow-ribbon factions would rather see punishment for those from the other side than pardon for their own.

Will Hong Kong’s Democrats see reason, or push the city towards futility?

It’s also clear there is not an overwhelming public interest to be served in interfering with the work of the courts by granting a general amnesty – quite the contrary.

It is no less embarrassing for Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu of the Civic Party, who initially supported Wu until he found that practically everyone was against it. This is the same person who helped Legco rejects Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching fight their way into the chamber and disrupt meetings last October. It seems Yeung is good for anything anti-government or against Beijing, however mindless or counterproductive.

While saying he wants to help ease tensions and reconcile the two camps, Wu has banned party members from joining Lam’s new government. He is now helping to rally pan-democratic lawmakers against the latest government budget, saying it doesn’t spend enough to improve people’s livelihoods.

It’s the same Wu who helped make sure every pan-democrat voted in the chief executive race for John Tsang Chun-wah, surely one of the most miserly finance ministers in recent times. In any case, blocking the budget won’t get more money for the poor and grass roots; it will delay the underprivileged from receiving allowances that have been budgeted, such as HK$30 billion earmarked for the elderly and disabled.

The Democratic Party has always been among the more reasonable and moderate of the pan-democrats. It would be a shame to see it fade away under poor leadership.