To stay, or go – that should not be a difficult question after Beijing has set the stage for all Hong Kong lawmakers to serve beyond the normal four-year term as part of the emergency response to the ongoing Covid-19 epidemic. Regrettably, the matter has been compounded by the Beijing factor and factional rifts in the pan-democrat camp. There are certainly pros and cons involved; but a mass boycott in times of political uncertainty would seem to do more harm than good. For the Legislative Council to play a meaningful role in vetting government policies, funding and legislative proposals, the pan-democrats’ presence is essential. Those in favour of quitting argue that it is a matter of principle, referring to what they see as an unjustified decision to delay the September elections for a year and for Beijing to get around the four-year term as laid down in the Basic Law. Some say to stay on is tantamount to accepting Beijing’s appointment, contending that they only have the mandate to serve until next month. A mass boycott would also make a strong political impact overseas and keep Hong Kong on the international radar. But for others, staying is just the lesser of the two evils . Politically, it is hard for the opposition to stay in a body it has questioned and criticised. But the truth is that the limited monitoring role of the legislature would be further weakened if there were only government allies in it. The enactment of the national security law and other incidents have already raised concerns over political development. Opting out would simply make checks and balances even more difficult. The rift stems from the rise of radical factions, whose confrontational strategies have made political compromise difficult. Their strong showing in the pan-democrats’ primary elections means mainstream parties cannot brush aside their resistance. The views across the political spectrum remain so divergent that a full consensus seems impossible. Efforts to iron out the differences are still under way. But with the Democratic Party and the Civic Party not in favour of a boycott, staying on seems like a foregone conclusion. While individual democrats may still opt to resign, the discord must not become an obstacle to unity and cooperation. Whatever the decision, serving Hong Kong remains the common goal for all. It has been 23 years since the pan-democrats boycotted the provisional legislature set up upon the reunification with China. While sometimes individual members may have gone too far with their tactics, they continue to play a meaningful role in keeping the government on its toes. A legislature without proper checks and balances is hardly in Hong Kong’s interest.