The opposition has truly lost the plot

The antics of opposition lawmakers have overshadowed their arguments against rewriting the Legco rule book to curb filibustering and other delay tactics methods. Instead of taking the moral high ground, they have confirmed the pro-government bloc’s claim that they have nothing to offer than being disruptive for its own sake

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 December, 2017, 2:01am
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 December, 2017, 2:01am

Actions speak louder than words. That’s why the antics of opposition lawmakers causing chaos and disruptions in the legislature have overshadowed the arguments they have made against rewriting the rule book to curb filibustering and other delaying tactics as legitimate legislative methods.

In so doing, they are confirming the pro-government bloc’s argument that they have nothing constructive to offer than being disruptive for its own sake, so curtailing their ability to interrupt legislative business is perfectly reasonable.

As if to prove this point, the first thing Democrat Ted Hui Chi-fung did yesterday in the legislative chamber was to set off an ear-splitting alarm. He then confronted security staff and refused to hand over the device.

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At the same time, for no apparent reason and without provocation, Eddie Chu Hoi-dick, an independent localist lawmaker, rushed at the Legco president before being stopped by security. Last month, while trying to stop another meeting on the rule book overhaul, Chu even tried to introduce a motion to kick out members of the press and public from the chamber, just to stall and waste time!

Is there anything that’s more against the democratic principle than keeping away citizens and journalists? Afterwards, Chu’s allies explained that they would have all voted against the motion, even Chu himself! But surely the first rule of political theatre is that symbolism and sending the right message matter. It’s not just what you do but how you do it.

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But Chu’s actions are by no means the worst. On this week’s 80th anniversary of the Nanking massacre, Chan Chi-chuen of radical People Power suddenly tried to introduce a motion to debate the historical tragedy and Japan’s failure to properly apologise for it. It was not that he had suddenly become patriotic. He made no bone that it was all an attempt to delay debating the Legco rule book change.

Sometimes the ends justify the means, especially if you are trying to win. But in this battle, the opposition has already lost. Not only do the pro-government loyalists have the voting numbers to succeed in rewriting the rule book, they also have solid public support.

The opposition should have taken the moral high ground and sent a clear message that it’s fighting for a democratic principle. But merely to delay the inevitable, it has shown there is no line it won’t cross.

It has truly lost the plot.