Thank Hong Kong localists for the joint checkpoint

The disqualification of two activists from the Legislative Council helped the quick passage of a controversial bill for the cross-border express rail link

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 September, 2018, 8:15pm
UPDATED : Monday, 24 September, 2018, 10:48pm

During the ceremony for the cross-border express rail opening in West Kowloon, the chief executive thanked Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee for helping to pass the joint checkpoint bill quickly in the Legislative Council.

Actually, they both had radical localists Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang to thank.

Without those two foolish secessionists, the opposition would still have retained its veto power in Legco and been able to declare war on the controversial checkpoint arrangement that enables mainland officers to operate within the rail terminus.

That had been its intention all along. But then, after losing six seats to disqualification and therefore its veto power, it watched helplessly as the government-friendly camp rewrote the Legco rules book that greatly reduced its scope for filibustering and delaying bills.

Moreover, Yau and Leung made such a farce of their Legco’s oath-taking it was hard for the public to have much sympathy for them. Their disqualification, in turn, became the legal playbook to kick out four other localist lawmakers for their own oath-taking fiasco.

High-speed rail saga exposes sorry anti-China paranoia in Hong Kong

During the summer, Ip served as the draconian chairwoman of the Legco committee that scrutinised the so-called co-location bill for a joint checkpoint, while Horace Cheung Kwok-kwan of the pro-government Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong played her sidekick as deputy chairman.

She was able to control and shorten debate. At one point, she allotted just 10 seconds for committee members to vote on each of 30 bill amendments, while questioning by each member was reduced to just one minute. Opposition lawmakers who didn’t play along were unceremoniously tossed out by security guards.

I can’t help but think that for all her long years as a legislator, this summer was her shining moment. But Ip would not have been able to execute so ruthlessly and effectively without the pro-government camp having amended Legco’s internal rules and procedures.

The pan-democratic opposition, not unreasonably, had complained how the government conspired with its Legco allies to muzzle it after losing its veto power. Yes, it’s dirty politics. But the opposition has no one to blame but itself for allowing clueless localists to run amok, inadvertently splitting its own camp and rendering it leaderless.

Young localists are good for manning the barricades and clashing with riot police. But when the opposition’s so-called leaders from mainstream parties let them breach the legislature, they set the stage for their own downfall and current pitiful state.