Bad call for political loyalty after phone grab by Hong Kong lawmaker

The way Democrats have turned on one of their own is extraordinary and, although they may be keeping their options open, who needs friends like these?

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 April, 2018, 1:24am
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 April, 2018, 1:24am

Everyone is calling for the head of Ted Hui Chi-fung. That the government and the pro-establishment bloc would take advantage of the opportunity to get rid of another opposition lawmaker is par for the course.

The Democrat is facing a police investigation for snatching a mobile phone from a government officer outside the Legislative Council because he was upset she was monitoring the comings and goings of lawmakers.

What is extraordinary about this incident is that the Democratic Party is so ready and willing to throw one of its own under the bus.

Some opposition figures such as Audrey Eu Yuet-mee of the Civic Party have made an attempt to defend Hui. But the Democrats are practically handing him a rope with which to hang himself.

First, they announced they would suspend Hui’s membership, subject to an internal disciplinary review. Then party chairman Wu Chi-wai said its members in Legco “would not vote” if a censure motion was put to a vote to unseat Hui.

Not to be outdone, former party chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing said Hui was “unsuitable to be a lawmaker and stay in the party”.

Wow, with friends like these …!

Notice the ambiguity in Wu’s statement. He is presumably thinking of Article 79 of the Basic Law, under which a lawmaker who is censured for misbehaviour may be disqualified by “a vote of two-thirds of the members of the Legislative Council present”. I emphasise the word “present”.

Should such a vote proceed, are the Democrats planning to show up and then abstain, or not show up at all? It makes all the difference. If the former, there probably won’t be enough votes to unseat Hui. But if the latter, Hui can probably kiss his political career goodbye.

Pro-establishment groups join forces to get Ted Hui sacked

My guess is that Wu, Lau and their comrades are trying to keep all their options open. If Hui resigns his party membership and/or his Legco seat, they have washed their hands of the matter.

If not, they will have to gauge which way the wind blows in terms of public opinion in the coming days and weeks.

Most people would think Hui has done something extremely foolish and counterproductive, but may still consider his offence not serious enough to be ejected from Legco. Others may want to see the back of him.

So many political calculations for the Democrats, so little time! And so much for political loyalty!