Hong Kong’s pro-democracy lawmakers can win back public support by being practical instead of petty
Albert Cheng says the pan-democrat camp is losing ground but can rally by focusing on constructive projects instead of each party’s own political interests
The “co-location bill” to set up a joint checkpoint with mainland China at the Kowloon high-speed rail terminus is entirely based on the resolution of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee and lacks legal basis. The bill was passed on June 14 by a Legislative Council dominated by the pro-establishment lawmakers. Council chairman Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen, who presided over the meetings in an improper and unfair manner, has been condemned by the pan-democrats.
Last week, 24 pro-democracy legislators, as well as Cheng Chung-tai and Pierre Chan Pui-yin, jointly moved a motion of no confidence against Leung. However, the motion was voted down by the pro-establishment camp at the House Committee meeting.
A judicial review against the legality of the bill is now the only option left.
Meanwhile, the pro-establishment camp has been growing aggressive. The chairman of the Committee on the Rules of Procedure, Paul Tse Wai-chun, recently initiated moves to further tighten the house rules after the first round in 2017. He suggested banning expelled lawmakers from meetings for the rest of the Legco session.
This will end all the pan-democrats’ disobedient tactics. In the worst-case scenario, if all the proposed amendments are tabled and passed, Legco will lose its function of monitoring the government. Since the handover, the pan-democrats’ most significant contribution has been to guard Legco’s power to veto government bills.
While Andrew Leung and the pro-establishment camp are unscrupulous, the general public has also given them tacit consent. The public has turned a blind eye to developments such as the disqualification of lawmakers, the improper arrangements of bill meetings and the tightening of the rules of procedure.
The pan-democrats should reflect on the reasons behind the public’s cold response to the recent political drama. People have become indifferent to the current political environment even though the rule of law has been deteriorating. This is understandable as there are a few lawmakers whose actions raise eyebrows.
Recently, when the head of Hong Kong Science Park, Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fan, was forced out of the job, some pan-democrats stood up for her. This gives the impression that the pan-democrats are not standing their ground on certain issues. Without political dignity, it is only a matter of time before they will be abandoned by their supporters.
On livelihood issues, some pan-democrats focus only on putting on a show for their political benefit. In the recent Yuen Long footbridge controversy, pan-democrat lawmakers strongly opposed the proposal due to its high cost, but neglected the needs of the residents of the area. Commercial buildings in Central are well connected by a network of footbridges, which eases traffic congestion and is convenient for pedestrians. It is bizarre that some pan-democrats are objecting to an infrastructure proposal that is in the best interests of local residents.
It is alarming that the general public perceive the pan-democrats to be fighting only for their own political benefits. The by-election drama exposed the ugly side of the entire pro-democracy camp. Political parties lacked vision and were only concerned about their representatives running in the election, instead of whether the person was capable of winning the seat.
If the pan-democrats are constructive and practical, it is easy to win the hearts of the people.
A recent remarkable achievement was the crowdfunding campaign launched by the Democratic Party to fund an international investigation into former chief executive Leung Chun-ying. HK$100,000 of the HK$2 million target was collected within 12 hours, proving that if the pan-democrats do the right thing, they will win the public’s support.
The pan-democrats have no one to blame but themselves. The localist and self-determination camp has been disqualified in the oath-taking controversy. Cheng Chung-tai, the only remaining localist in Legco, has failed to contribute anything.
It is time for the pan-democrats to review their strategies and come up with new tactics that are practical and for the benefit of the community.
Albert Cheng King-hon is a political commentator. [email protected]