A way out of Hong Kong's polarised politics is possible

Tik Chi Yuen hears the outcry for an alternative at upcoming local elections that is neither simply pro- nor anti-government, but favours consensus and working within the system

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 August, 2015, 12:16pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 August, 2015, 12:16pm

To support or to reject the central government - these, it seems, are the only two political choices left in the wake of last year's pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. The vicious quarrel between the two sides has depressed most citizens. What people need is a third power that tolerates dissent, and can keep our city moving forward.

One solicitor told me recently that "lawmakers nowadays only know how to fight, but fail to make contributions".

He is not alone in holding such a gloomy opinion of political parties, as evidenced by a recent survey by the Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies at the Chinese University, in which many of those polled said they were dissatisfied with and pessimistic about these parties.

In the views of many, Hong Kong's political parties cater to their own interests; they would rather act irrationally and engage in filibustering in the Legislative Council chamber than table useful suggestions to resolve the city's critical issues. People want political parties to widen their horizons, be tolerant of different opinions and work together for the city's economic, political, cultural and social development.

Likewise, many Taiwanese have been troubled by the fights between the two dominant forces - the pan-blue and the pan-green coalitions. People are tired of the years of conflict and combat.

Thus, the emergence of Tsai Ing-wen, the current leader of the Democratic Progressive Party and its candidate for the presidential election next year, has been a breath of fresh air.

Tsai wrote on her social media platform: "We join the presidential electoral battle not for the purpose of putting down the other political parties, but for the purpose of leading [Taiwan] to overcome tribulations and to truly move forward."

It is clear why she already has the support of at least half of the people surveyed in recent public opinion polls. She has elevated the tone of the election with her promise to fight for the greater good. Many Taiwanese are touched by this appeal, as it offers them hope.

In Hong Kong, besides the two extremes of either opposing or supporting the government, and of being a political friend or enemy, could we find a third way? This is especially pertinent in the run-up to the district council and Legco elections, which will mostly be contested by the pan-democrat and pro-government forces. Could our electors be provided with a third choice, and could such a third power outshine the other two?

A third power is a fresh concept that awaits experiment. Former lawmaker Ronny Tong Ka-wah, who now chairs a moderate think tank, has been working on it.

Realistically, a third power could act as a cushion and make actual contributions to Hong Kong. It does not mean we turn a blind eye to government setbacks. Rather, we should treasure constructive proposals to resolve problems, and try hard to achieve a consensus for the greater good.

A third power has to work within the framework, as opinion polls show this to be the most practical method. In previous polls about the reform for the chief executive election, about 50 per cent of people called for the reform package to be approved. If the central government had allowed room for concessions or altered the proposal, that number jumped to 70 per cent. This means that the mainstream regarded the central government as the most important stakeholder of Hong Kong. None of us should ignore this fact.

I am not saying we should resign ourselves to our fate. Nevertheless, if there is another political power fighting for the best interests of Hong Kong, under the current political framework, it would definitely win a lot of support.

Tik Chi Yuen is a member of the Democratic Party