The biggest mass arrests made under the national security law have netted more than 50 former opposition legislators and activists for their part in the so-called primary election run-off last July. Benny Tai Yiu-ting, a former law lecturer who was among those arrested, has been singled out as a mastermind. The irony is that others such as Helena Wong Pik-wang didn’t even win the primary. Would the poll by itself have breached the national security law and triggered the latest arrests? To answer that, you may need some background information. We have to separate the poll’s organisation from an earlier statement Tai published in Apple Daily to rationalise the primary. They have been linked together by police, the security secretary, pro-government politicians and even Tai’s own supporters, as the reason for the arrests. There is nothing wrong in political parties trying to win more seats in the Legislative Council, including gaining a majority. That is the name of the game. There is also nothing wrong in trying to interest more voters to get them to participate. And while it may be unusual, there is nothing wrong with parties opening themselves to non-members to help choose candidates for elections. Can Hong Kong’s opposition camp survive the crackdown? However, before the primary, Tai in April published his manifesto “The ten steps to real ‘ laam chau ’ (mutual destruction) – the fate of Hong Kong”. He has been described, even by supporters, as the primary’s chief architect. It was funded and organised by some of the biggest pan-democratic parties. Would they have done so if Tai had never written his manifesto? It’s possible but who knows? In his article, Tai spelt out his laam chau strategy, which involved gaining a majority in Legco for the anti-government camp, paralysing the government by vetoing all government bills including the annual budget, and forcing the chief executive to dissolve the legislature and eventually to resign under Basic Law requirements. The last three steps detailed by Tai in his manifesto involved provoking the central government to intervene in Hong Kong and declaring a state of emergency, leading to bloody crackdowns by the authorities. With Hong Kong society being paralysed, Western governments would then together impose political and economic sanctions on the Chinese Communist Party. While I admire Tai’s imagination, I do wonder how many of those who took part in organising and voting in the primary had those 10 steps in mind.