My Take

‘Red scare’ campaign by the pan-dems a low blow

Academic Simon Lee Hoey appears to be qualified for the post of deputy home affairs secretary, yet the opposition camp accuses him being a closet member of the Chinese Communist Party

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 July, 2017, 1:42am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 July, 2017, 1:42am

The new bureau secretaries may be lacklustre and uninspiring, but at least their appointments have avoided controversies. Oddly, the hiring of their deputies has proved far trickier, as the opposition has started to pick fights. Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s political honeymoon may already be over.

Pan-democrats have gone after veteran educator Christine Choi Yuk-lin for her ties to pro-China education NGOs after reports she is being considered for a senior post at the Education Bureau. Now they have expanded their “red scare” campaign to target Simon Lee Hoey, a rising star among the local political elite.

The knives are out as rumours circulate that Lee is being considered for the post of deputy home affairs secretary. He is currently deputy executive director of Our Hong Kong Foundation, the think tank that was the brainchild of former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa.

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Pan-democrats such as Democratic Party legislator Lam Cheuk-ting have accused Lee of being a leftist based on his publications and work experience. Lee does write a lot because he is, well, a scholar. He has a PhD in law from Tsinghua University, and is a specialist in constitutional and international law. He also has advanced degrees from the Chinese University of Hong Kong and University of London, and is an adviser at Harvard Law School and a visiting fellow at the University of Hong Kong’s law school.

His recent publications, which some find questionable, have defended the current chief executive election method, the government’s failed electoral reform package in 2015 and Deng Xiaoping’s conception of the “one country two systems” governing principle for Hong Kong. His views may be disagreeable to pan-democrats, but they are fairly mainstream.

Lam, the legislator, questions if he is not a closet member of the Chinese Communist Party because he had worked as an assistant to a county magistrate in Guizhou.

Is Lee “red”? Who knows? The political backgrounds of Tsang Tak-sing, the former home affairs secretary, and his brother Jasper Tsang Yok-sing, the former Legislative Council president, were redder than red. One turned out to be a competent official and the other is one of the few public figures respected by people on both sides of the political fence. Ex-chief executive Leung Chun-ying has been accused of being a Communist Party member.

Lee may or may not make a good political appointee. But are we disqualifying him just because of his published views? Maybe the pan-dems are right – Hong Kong isn’t free anymore.