My Take

Hong Kong democracy? Perhaps it’s time for some soul-searching

With opposition parties on the ropes, comments of independent lawmaker on what we really want deserve some serious consideration

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 September, 2017, 12:52am
UPDATED : Friday, 01 September, 2017, 1:47am

Reflecting on his first year in the legislature, independent lawmaker Eddie Chu Hoi-dick said the Hong Kong democracy movement is going nowhere because it lacks effective leadership. He is right.

Not only that, but many of the moderate parties are losing key members and becoming ineffective. Among these are the Democratic Party, the Labour Party, the Civic Party and Path of Democracy, led by Executive Council member Ronny Tong Ka-wah.

The stage has been left to the most radical, extreme or immature activists. Elected pro-democracy lawmakers are in danger of being replaceable or interchangeable, Chu told the Economic Journal, unless they show leadership in pushing the democracy movement forward.

Jailing of Hong Kong protesters will further polarise already divided society, pro-democracy lawmaker says

One of the more intelligent opposition legislators, Chu is that rare politician who is willing to ­re-examine the political movement that he has supported and to acknowledge its problems.

The reasons for the increasingly radical politics in Hong Kong are multiple and complex. The opposition attributes this as a response to the tightening control the central government has exercised over the city in recent years as well as the Hong Kong government being unresponsive and incompetent. That may be true, up to a point.

But the opposition itself cannot escape blame. If it had more effective and credible leaders, localist miscreants such as Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching would never have made it into the Legislative Council. And that would have spared us a major political crisis.

With Hong Kong’s young faces of democracy in jail, is civil society being put in chains?

Indeed, both the central and Hong Kong governments probably would prefer the opposition to have an effective leadership, so they would know who to call when they pick up the phone. At the moment, the opposition is like, to borrow a phrase from Sun Yat-sen, loose sand, with no cohesion.

This means they can’t articulate a positive political agenda going forward. The result is predictable. They can only object and nitpick about anything the government does, whether it’s about the national anthem law, immigration and customs arrangements at the West Kowloon high-speed railway terminus, or national education.

The opposition is caught in a bind. That’s why Chu asks how much Hong Kong people really want democracy. It may be, he said, most just want their existing freedoms and way of life to continue.

Like Chu, regardless of our political stance, we can all do with a bit of soul-searching.