My Take

Inside the pan-democratic camp: insults, vitriol and division

Secretly recorded tape exposes lie to their supposed unity as Civic Passion chairman and lawmaker Cheng Chung-tai takes off the gloves

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 June, 2017, 1:04am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 June, 2017, 1:20am

Beijing-friendly politicians are often accused of practising “united front” tactics. As it turns out, pan-democrats and their radical allies are doing exactly the same. Worse, some have such contempt for the public in whose name they are always claiming to be speaking that it’s truly breathtaking.

The radical Civic Passion chairman and lawmaker Cheng Chung-tai has found himself at the centre of a political storm among anti-government circles. This comes after a heated discussion during a secretly taped party meeting was released online at the weekend.

Cheng was heard blasting ousted lawmakers Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching – both of the localist group Youngspiration – and dismissing the public as “retarded”. The two localist activists had disrupted the Legislative Council’s swearing-in ceremonies and other meetings last October, behaviour that led to their disqualification as lawmakers.

Cheng was heard shouting Cantonese obscenities while discussing the case of Leung and Yau, saying they both “should just die”. He also complained about having to pretend to be their friend, “to make it look like I was helping them”.

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“The public is retarded,” he said. “They assume I am part of localism. Some even think I belong to Youngspiration, do you understand?”

Posting a response on his own Facebook page, Cheng neither confirmed nor denied he was the one speaking during the meeting. But he complained that his party comrades should not have made unauthorised recordings of confidential party meetings and then released them on the internet.

So it turns out Cheng and presumably more than a few other opposition figures have had tremendous contempt for Leung and Yau. Yet, they have kept up what is literally a united front for the longest time, just to exploit the pair’s disqualification from the legislature as a rallying point to fight the government.

Cheng is also in legal trouble himself. He has been charged with desecrating the national and Hong Kong flags after he turned upside down small versions of those flags that lawmakers from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong had displayed on their desks inside the Legco chamber in October. It was a completely pointless gesture, other than as a childish insult to the Hong Kong and central governments.

Maybe Cheng shouldn’t be so harsh on Leung and Yau. He is turning out to be as big a fruit cake as those two.