Fear and loathing as pan-dems court localists

  • Hong Kong’s pan-democrats want localists to join their corner to fight in elections but the reality is that there is no love lost between the two sides
PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 December, 2018, 5:45pm
UPDATED : Monday, 03 December, 2018, 10:19pm

After his embarrassing defeat in the Kowloon West by-election, Labour Party stalwart Lee Cheuk-yan called on pan-democrats and localists to fight together in future polls. But barely had he finished his appeal that the two sides started trading insults. So much for cooperation!

On the yellow-ribbon online channel Singjai, Andrew To Kwan-hang, the former chairman of the League of Social Democrats, cast doubt on the political credentials of actor-turned-localist Chapman To Man-chat.

“To Man-chat is going all out against the Chinese Communist Party in his shows but his wife keeps getting lucrative jobs on the mainland,” Andrew To said. “I am only asking because I am curious.”

He went on and on with insinuations while his two co-hosts, veteran pan-democratic commentators Simon Lau Sai-leung and Jeff Tsui, goaded him on.

Chapman To’s wife is TVB’s A-list actress Kristal Tin Yui-nei. Long rumoured to have been blacklisted as an actor on the mainland, Chapman To has become an online star attracting hundreds of thousands of views every week with his internet show, which often mixes sex jokes with current affairs commentaries, usually filled with Cantonese expletives against the Hong Kong and central governments and their top officials.

Pan-democrats and localists urged to work together after by-election loss

The localist actor reacted angrily to the Singjai show on his Facebook page filled with swear words while threatening to beat up the hosts, even if he went to jail. After setting the localist media on fire last week, Andrew To finally offered an apology, but not before getting veteran opposition pundits Wong Yuk-man and Shiu Yeuk-yuen to join the fray.

Meanwhile, former Civic Party lawmaker Audrey Eu Yuet-mee has been looking for people to blame for Lee’s by-election loss. She singled out Kwong Po-yin, formerly of the radical localist group Youngspiration, for failing to help Lee canvas voters.

Kwong dismissed the complaint as absurd. “Only voters can give their votes,” she wrote in an online post. “I can’t offer their votes.”

The fantasy logic of old-timers like Lee and Eu is that pan-democrats deserve all the localist votes. After all, localists can’t run in elections because they face disqualification over their stances on Hong Kong independence and self-determination. Mainstream democrats can run but they need the support of localists to win.

The reality is that there is no love lost between the two sides. They look on each other with mutual incomprehension, if not outright hostility. For many young radicals, there is little difference between pro-establishment and pan-democrat politicians.