Businessman David Lie Tai-chong, a self-proclaimed messenger between the Liberal Party and Beijing, has ridiculed the party's leadership turmoil as a real-life version of a popular TVB Jade soap opera about the feud in a family that runs a dried seafood business. In another political satire, a Chinese newspaper columnist has likened James Tien Pei-chun to Russian leader Vladimir Putin, claiming the former Liberal leader was seeking to pull the strings from behind the scenes after stepping down from the helm of the party following its defeat in the Legislative Council elections. The same Chinese newspaper had another go last week when three legislators quit the party. It blamed the 'Tien brothers' for the political mess, saying it was like what Lehman Brothers did to Wall Street. An attempt by Mr Tien to groom his brother Michael Tien Puk-sun for the top party post had failed miserably, the columnist wrote. The dust from the Legco elections last month may have long settled, but the fallout from the Liberals' humiliating defeat in the geographical constituency polls has only just begun. With the departures of three Liberal legislators - Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung, Sophie Leung Lau Yau-fun and Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen - on Wednesday, the political farce that has unfolded since the polls is seemingly doomed to end on a bitter and tragic note. Even if the party, under the leadership of Miriam Lau Kin-yee, holds together, its influence inside and outside the legislature will wane significantly. With only three seats in Legco, the Liberals will have to live with its minority status and learn fast about how to make the most of it. The shrinking strength of the Liberals in the legislature may also prompt tycoons to rethink their funding for the party. In society at large, the ugly infighting and backstabbing will cause more damage to the party's image and deal a further blow to morale in the rank and file. Fifteen years after its inception as a representative of the business sector and as a counter to the pro-democracy parties, the Liberal Party faces an uncertain future if not a terminal decline. The dramatic turn of events has laid bare the fragility of the party's fundamentals. And the leadership split has given credence to cynics' claims that the party was not founded on a set of clear, consensual and consistent beliefs and philosophies among like-minded aspirants. Instead, it is claimed that they came together because of political imperatives to pursue their own agendas and interests. Winning and losing are part and parcel of elections confronted by all political parties. That the Liberals' election fiasco not only triggered a bitter power struggle for the leadership but exposed the divide between the so-called pro-direct election and anti-direct election factions, and has shed some light on what went wrong. The lack of mutual trust among core leaders and the lack of a democratic spirit regarding the leadership election raises questions about the sense of unity and purpose within the party. Political parties rise and fall. It was not long ago that another business-oriented party, the Hong Kong Progressive Alliance, faded from the political scene. In that instance, the alliance merged with the then Democratic Alliance for Betterment of Hong Kong to create what is now known as the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong. The merger followed the failure of the Progressive Alliance to win any seats in the September 2005 elections. If the Liberal Party wishes to avoid the same fate, it will have to instil among its members a stronger sense of self-belief and confidence and show the public that it is moving in the right direction. It is only then, that it will be able to win in elections.