Like a bolt from the blue, Democratic Party lawmaker Albert Ho Chun-yan announced last Friday that he will resign after he votes against the government’s political reform package in the Legislative Council in order to trigger a de-facto referendum on the city’s political future. He said his action is aimed at creating public pressure to force the government into restarting the five-step process of political reform.
The Umbrella Movement has reached a low point after the police clearing operations. But history would tell us that almost every democratic movement had had its low points and high points, like the Tiananmen Square student movement in 1989. Today’s Umbrella Movement is no exception.
Every advocate or participant, no matter which organization he or she is representing, shares the responsibility of reflecting on what happened during the movement and exploring new directions and the way forward.
For that matter, Albert Ho deserves credit for his determination to give up his official position to draw social concern and spark public discussions, although I have serious doubts about the actual impact of his action.
It is obvious that the pan-democrats have missed their best chance to resort to resignation for the purpose of escalating the movement.
They should have done so in late October last year, or one month into the movement, when things were at a stalemate, morale among occupiers was low, and public opinion began to swing in the government’s favor.
In fact some did suggest at the time that pan-democrat lawmakers resign in all five geographical constituencies to break the political deadlock and force the administration to back down under public pressure.
What Ho intends to do now is too little and too late. It won’t make much difference whether he resigns before or after the political reform package is put to the vote in Legco. Perhaps the only political effect his resignation might produce is that it can reassure supporters of the Democratic Party that it will not be swayed and compromised this time like what happened in 2010.
Therefore, it is logical to infer that the reason behind Ho’s decision is to allow his party to gain political benefits. Ho had kept his own counsel and remained tight-lipped about his decision to resign until he made the announcement on Jan. 9, without having consulted his colleagues in the pan-democratic camp. Even Democratic Party chairperson Emily Lau Wai-hing was not present at his press conference.
Judging from all these clues, it is not hard to imagine that Ho is actually sacrificing himself to save his own party from decline and get it prepared for the District Council elections later this year.
As lawmaker Gary Fan Kwok-wai said, it is almost a universal principle for political parties to make moves to serve their own purpose. Albert Ho demonstrated some measure of political wisdom by taking the initiative, outperforming other pan-democrat figures who have become so disoriented after the Occupy Movement, Benny Tai yiu-ting and his two colleagues, who have become so disillusioned, as well as Joshua Wong Chi-fung, convener of Scholarism, who seems to be at the end of his rope after Leung Chun-ying refused to reopen discussions with him and other student leaders.
The Occupy Movement has raised the political awareness of the public, and what people are now looking for is an alternative strategy to keep the spirit alive. Given this public expectation, I believe the pan-democrats should stay united and fight their way through the all-out persecution of CY Leung’s regime, rather than reluctantly support Ho’s resignation and fight one another again in this year’s District Council elections.
It’s been rumored that police operations to arrest the protest leaders and key figures of the movement are in full swing, targeting more than 1,500. Instead of waiting for the police to knock on their doors, I suggest that the activists ditch conventional means such as mass demonstrations and call upon all citizens who have ever taken part in or showed support for the Occupy Movement to gather at the police headquarters on Feb. 1 and turn themselves in, thereby paralyzing our law enforcement and judicial branches with hundreds of thousands of volunteering suspects and confronting the White Terror head-on.
A recent poll conducted by the Chinese University suggested that more than two million citizens had either taken part in or showed support for the Occupy Movement in one way or another. All it takes is 1 percent of them to keep on fighting by means of civil disobedience, and the future of the movement is likely to become promising again.
What we need now are real actions that can bring tangible results. Isn’t it more meaningful than wasting our time squabbling over Albert Ho’s belated resignation?
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Jan. 14.
Translation by Alan Lee
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