My Take

Silent Majority have ears in high places

Robert Chow Yung, founder of the pro-Beijing group, has found favour with top officials in Beijing

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 December, 2016, 1:21am
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 December, 2016, 1:21am

Wow, what a week, and it’s not even the weekend! The government is taking localist lawmaker Lau Siu-lai to court in a bid to eject her from the legislature. Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang yesterday lost their appeal against being disqualified as legislators.

Beijing suddenly announced pan-democratic lawmakers would be granted permanent home-return permits, an apparent U-turn after having denied many of them the right of return to the mainland for decades.

But amidst all the headlines, what is perhaps most intriguing is a local delegation to Beijing led by former journalist and radio host Robert Chow Yung.

Chow founded Silent Majority for Hong Kong two years ago to fight Occupy Central. As its leader, he managed yesterday to meet the who’s who in Beijing in charge of Hong Kong affairs. These included National People’s Congress chairman Zhang Dejiang (張德江), Liaison Office director Zhang Xiaoming (張曉明), Wang Guangya (王光亞) of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office and Chen Zuoer (陳佐洱), chairman of the semi-official Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies.

One meeting reportedly lasted two hours. And the encounters were no mere chit-chats. Zhang used the occasion to warn that advocating independence for Hong Kong would “bring calamity to the country and the people”, and Hongkongers must “struggle” against it. Chen said there must be no mercy in dealing with secessionists, who must be ruthlessly pursued and rooted out.

Even for a top Hong Kong official such as the chief executive, such meetings would have been unusually high profile; for a local civic group, it’s practically unheard of.

The honchos in Beijing clearly wanted the meetings with Chow to send a hardline message.

Zhang praised Chow’s group for providing a much-needed platform for Hong Kong people to voice their concerns.

Chow quoted Chen as saying Hong Kong’s legal system was adequate but its enforcement and punishment were often not sufficiently tough. He was referring to insufficient punishment against those arrested during the Occupy protests in 2014.

Chow is going places. Perhaps that’s not surprising. Given how fractured the pro-Beijing camp has become during the tenure of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, the effectiveness and loyalty of some parties and their members have become questionable.

Chow’s Silent Majority has the financial backing and organisation to transform easily into a hardline loyalist party. We will know soon enough.