The pan-democrats must end their foolish game

Very few pan-dems have openly spoken out against independence for Hong Kong, instead treating the issue as a stick with which to beat the government and Beijing into making concessions

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 September, 2016, 12:59am
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 September, 2016, 9:49am

Politics is rarely what it appears. Just as you shouldn’t take what the Hong Kong government or Beijing says at face value, so you shouldn’t do so with the pan-democrats either.

This is especially the case when it comes to the nascent independence movement. Most mainstream pan-democrats have stated time and again their recognition of China’s sovereignty over Hong Kong, and their commitment to upholding the Basic Law.

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So separatism ought to be the exact opposite of what they believe in and advocate. Many are smart enough to realise independence is a ticket to nowhere for Hong Kong. Yet, very few pan-dems have openly spoken out against it. Most either keep quiet or jump on their high horses to defend the right of separatists to speak out and to promote their cause. They do so in the name of academic freedom and free speech. But such freedoms do not prohibit debate and criticism. So why is there nary a bad word about independence from the pan-dems?

There are a number of possibilities. Some really believe free speech is an absolute. A few may be closet separatists. But the most likely explanation is that having failed to achieve anything with the Occupy movement, they are upping the ante with “independence”. The argument going around these days among political moderates is that the next government needs to restart democratic reforms. If there are meaningful electoral changes, support for independence would die out.

Can Hong Kong’s pan-democrats rise to the challenge of the localist trend?

Indeed most pan-dems are treating “independence” as a stick with which to beat the government and Beijing into making concessions, just like they tried to do with the Occupy movement.

They have learned nothing from the Occupy debacle. And in the process, they are creating a dangerous monster they won’t be able to control. Already, radical localist candidates in the Legco elections have rejected cooperation with the pan-dems and will have been eating their lunch this Sunday if the government has not screened out the more popular ones. The pan-dems really should thank the government for that.

There is nothing that provokes the central government more than separatism, nothing that would guarantee a hardline response and greater interference. If the pan-dems have any sense and care about Hong Kong, they should end their foolish game, speak out against independence now and help nab it in the bud.