Time for Hong Kong's pan-democrats to bury the hatchet

Joanne Cheung says a pragmatic approach can ensure Hongkongers win

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 April, 2015, 12:57pm
UPDATED : Monday, 20 April, 2015, 12:57pm

As Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor begins to meet pan-democratic lawmakers for discussions on the political reform framework, certain invited pan-dems have described the meeting as a "trap", if not a "perfect scam", to divide members of the camp.

One political pundit told me that these pan-dems are like "crybabies" who may eventually lose their footing in this end game of political reform.

As this political pundit pointed out, any smart person would begin any kind of political discussion by first approaching those who hold a milder or more liberal stance, which explains why Frederick Fung Kin-kee, Charles Mok and members of the Democratic Party were among the first to be invited to the discussions.

It's evident that, in the eyes of the Hong Kong and central governments, they are deemed more easily approachable, and it's wise for them to seek common ground to facilitate the approval of the political reform blueprint.

What's disconcerting is that, when responding on a radio programme to a survey that showed up to 60 per cent of respondents supported the passing of the reform package, Charles Mok expressed doubts about whether biased wording had been used in the survey, while adding that "there are still 30 per cent in support of the status quo" - as if that was enough reason to veto the reform. Mok is not the only one in the pro-democracy camp to stand firm on this uncompromising view, and one can't help but wonder whether they are actually pursuing their own political careers at the expense of the will of the majority of Hongkongers.

The realisation of the political reform goal is the embodiment of something for which pan-dems' political careers and individual political parties' interests are no match: it epitomises a great leap forward in democratic development for Hong Kong and the entire country.

The passing of the reform package would see a chief executive elected via universal suffrage, something that empowers citizens with a democratic election right. The pan-democrats' "logic" is mind-boggling: how could the government's effort in reaching out to the pan-dems, in the hope of convincing them to foster such a democratic move, be in any way an attempt to polarise their camp?

The fact the pan-dems claim the central and Hong Kong governments are likely to point the finger of blame at them, should the reform proposal be vetoed, is a clear reflection of the lack of mutual trust.

To again quote the political pundit, Beijing's swift change of the multi-entry permit for Shenzhen residents to one that now allows only one visit per week is as much a solution to cross-boundary conflicts as it is to the issue of parallel traders. The tidal waves of money that flow from the mainland to Hong Kong are yet another of the central government's initiatives to create an environment that is conducive to a consensus on political reform.

Central government officials of various ranks have, on many different occasions, expressed hope that the reforms will be passed, to bring about a chief executive election by universal suffrage.

It's about time the pan-democrats buried the hatchet, turned around and adopted a more pragmatic approach to realising political reform, not least as a response to the central government's sincerity.

Joanne Cheung is acting executive director of the Hong Kong United Foundation