Latest Legco showdown looks like a draw

The days of localist youth group Demosisto may appear numbered but the pro-establishment camp has no cause to celebrate with rival lawmakers likely to survive

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 May, 2018, 6:09am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 May, 2018, 6:09am

The latest battle between the government and the opposition appears to be a draw.

It looks like the pro-establishment camp’s attempt to eject two more opposition lawmakers has failed. On the other hand, the government’s sustained effort to contain localist youth group Demosisto has worked out well.

Demosisto chairman Nathan Law Kwun-chung, one of six opposition legislators disqualified for improper oath-taking in the Legislative Council, has quit his post, citing the need for a “respite” from years in the “vortex of political storms”.

Those who know Law have long observed how he was demoralised and exhausted by his prison ordeal for storming the government headquarters on the eve of the Occupy protests in 2014, though he and fellow student leaders Joshua Wong Chi-fung and Alex Chow Yong-kang subsequently won on appeal at the highest court.

Demosisto vice-chairwoman Tiffany Yuen Ka-wai has quit the party altogether, citing political differences. This followed the barring of its member Agnes Chow Ting from running in the last Legco election over her stance on self-determination for Hong Kong.

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And to pre-empt any activist with a similar political stance to Demosisto from competing in the next district council elections, the government has already announced the same screening of candidates will apply.

Despite Demosisto being fronted by its high-profile co-founder Wong its days are numbered. It has even been suggested among their allies that its core members should launch another party without stating support for self-determination in order to bypass election screening. But that would amount to political suicide.

But the government’s political commissars shouldn’t be uncorking champagne just yet. Cheng Chung-tai, one of the more extreme localist lawmakers, has survived a censure motion to unseat him with the support of 24 pan-democrats and medical sector lawmaker Pierre Chan Pui-yin.

Cheng was found guilty by a court of desecrating the national and Hong Kong flags when he flipped over several such mini-flags inside the Legco chamber in 2016.

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Democratic Party lawmaker Ted Hui Chi-fung, who is facing a police investigation for grabbing a mobile phone from a government officer outside the Legco chamber, will likely survive any forthcoming censure motion.

The party, which initially was ready to throw him under the bus, may now have a change of heart. Its members in Legco only need to abstain for Hui to keep his seat; and it looks like they don’t want to lose that seat after all.