Date
18 December 2017
Political differences between the Civic Party's Ronny Tong (left) and Alan Leong have evolved into a public spat. Photo: RTHK
Political differences between the Civic Party's Ronny Tong (left) and Alan Leong have evolved into a public spat. Photo: RTHK

When a pat on the shoulder is a slap in the face

A pat on the shoulder has set off a war of words between two Civic Party leading lights over political reform, exposing fraught divisions in the group. 

Legislator and Civic Party member Ronny Tong took a shot at party leader Alan Leong Monday, a day after Leong appeared to suggest that Tong was taking a soft line on Beijing and universal suffrage. 

At a RTHK City Forum Sunday, Leong said that some people in the pan-democrat camp who don’t support popular nomination for chief executive candidates might think that Hong Kong can gain universal suffrage by “patting the shoulders” of Beijing officials.

In Cantonese, the phrase suggests a friendly, cooperative gesture.

Leong retracted the words immediately but Tong said he found the criticism offensive, according to a Ming Pao report.

Tong told Commercial Radio that some radical pan-democrats were doing all they could to sideline more moderate voices. Without naming Leong, Tong said he is getting angry about the hostile statements of some in the party. 

Tong went on to say that People Power and League of Social Democrats — which are also part of the pan-democrat Alliance for True Democracy pushing for universal suffrage – should quit the because “the alliance was established by the pan-democrats”.

People Power chairman Christopher Lau said Tong had no grounds for asking any party to leave the grouping, especially when he couldn’t rouse support for his political reform proposal in a vote on May 6.

The vote, organized by the Occupy Central movement that also advocates universal suffrage, winnowed 15 proposals for nominating candidates for the 2017 chief executive election down to three.

Tong’s proposal backed universal vote but not public nomination for the election. 

Leong said both the radical and moderate members of the pan-democrat camp should fight in their own way for a real choice for Hong Kong.

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