Democrats’ banquet gives Hong Kong something to chew over
By attending a Democratic Party function with key ministers and donating
HK$30,000, leader Carrie Lam is out to isolate more radical localists
Is it time to revive the so-called grand reconciliation or is it rather a good cop/bad cop routine?
Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor was photographed on Tuesday wining and dining with the honchos of the Democratic Party at its annual banquet.
Hours earlier, Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung hinted in an official reply that the government might consider ways to write off the HK$11.7 million owed to the legislature by four disqualified localist lawmakers after they deliberately distorted their oaths in taking office.
Her message to the opposition was clear. She took her key policy secretaries to the banquet, including Cheung, Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah and finance chief Paul Chan Mo-po; and stayed for more than an hour.
She personally donated HK$30,000 during fundraising. On Instagram, she posted her photo with party chairman Wu Chi-wai with @grand-reconciliation.
A post shared by Carrie Lam (@carrielam.hksar) on Mar 20, 2018 at 5:58am PDT
Meanwhile, the government has signalled it’s inclined to take it easy on the ousted four, Nathan Law Kwun-chung, Edward Yiu Chung-yim, Leung Kwok-hung and Lau Siu-lai. In fact, months earlier, several Legislative Council Commission members with close ties to the government already said the four should be let off the hook, or at least be made to pay only parts of the debt instead of the full amount.
The powers that be, intent on “killing the chicken to warn the monkey”, seem satisfied by targeting those first disqualified, Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching, who face more than HK$10 million in legal bills and Legco debt.
With the latest by-election results, Lam seems to have calculated that Hong Kong’s political pendulum has ended its swing to the extreme and is moving back to the more moderate.
It’s time to make nice with traditional mainstream pan-democrats such as the Democratic Party and isolate the radical localists, who are being squeezed from all sides.
But Lam is the velvet glove being worn by a fist that is the central government. Tam Yiu-chung, the only Hong Kong member of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, has warned that anyone who publicly advocates an end to “one-party dictatorship” may be barred from future elections.
The city will soon have a national anthem law while President Xi Jinping himself vowed at the closing annual session of the National People’s Congress to strengthen national identity and patriotism in the two SARs.
Beijing has set the parameters for legitimate criticism and opposition in Hong Kong, beyond which they will not be tolerated.