Yellow ribbon torn as infighting erupts

With Jimmy Lai Chee-ying and former lawmaker Wong Yuk-man embroiled in a public war of words, who needs mainland communists as enemies?

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 August, 2018, 5:48pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 August, 2018, 10:31pm

The summer heat must be getting into people’s heads. How else can you explain why some of the city’s most prominent public figures are going at each other’s throats?

No, I wasn’t thinking about the tongue-lashing former chief executive Leung Chun-ying gave to veteran journalist Francis Moriarty over an invitation by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club to Hong Kong National Party boss Andy Chan Ho-tin to talk about independence for the city.

Rather, I was thinking about a new row between two of Hong Kong’s fiercest anti-communists, media boss Jimmy Lai Chee-ying and former legislator Wong Yuk-man.

Commenting in his own newspaper, Apple Daily, Lai wrote that unless “the dynasty of Xi Jinping” collapses, Hong Kong is finished. “The politics of strongman and emperor Xi is slowly eroding the city’s core values of justice, culture and education,” Lai wrote.

But while the focus of his article was on Xi, he couldn’t help taking a swing at Wong and several others usually associated with the radical localist movement, including Horace Chin Wan-kan, often called the father of localism, and Wong Yeung-tat, founder of the radical localist group Civic Passion.

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Lai accuses those men of being used as “frontmen” by the Xi clique to manufacture the independence movement, thereby giving the authorities an excuse to censor and arrest activists, and suppress free speech and criticism of one-party dictatorship.

Borrowing a phrase used by Mao Zedong himself, Lai said Hong Kong independence is “the beating stick used to lure the snakes out of their holes”.

Wong read aloud most of Lai’s article in his online channel MyRadio and feigned outrage. In a profanities-laced rebuttal, he dared Lai to offer evidence and vowed to attack him every day on his channel.

“I created the independence movement? I must have God-like power,” he said. “Lai, stop writing. Don’t show people how moronic and superficial you really are … there are still people who think you are a really smart guy.”

Though we usually write about the yellow-ribbon movement in the singular, it is actually deeply fractured. Within those circles, conspiracy theories abound. Some of their blogs and Facebook pages are fact-free zones.

One long-standing theory is that Wong is a paid agent of the Chinese communists. Another is that Lai is in the pockets of the US Republican Party. These guys don’t need mainland communists as enemies when they can just fight each other.