Controversial would be an apt description of activist Leticia Lee. But political heavyweight?
Not by a long shot, some might say, but in the chaos and recriminations surrounding last week’s collapse of a major plank of Beijing’s Hong Kong agenda, Lee is beginning to make sense.
Whether there’s more to her emerging profile than what’s already known remains to be seen.
The point is, she can no longer be ignored.
Lee lost no time making her move after the defeat of the election reform bill last Thursday by announcing a new political party — a third voice that will “speak for the neutral section” of Hong Kong society.
It will be the antithesis of the pro-establishment and pro-democracy camps, which have dominated Hong Kong politics for a generation, according to her announcement.
Color-coded politics — yellow for pro-democracy, blue for pro-establishment — are not for her.
But to be sure, Lee has her own baggage.
Her support of national education, her extreme opposition to last year’s democracy protests dramatized by a hunger strike, and her defense of police action on demonstrators make her as pro-establishment as it gets.
Plus, her anti-gay rhetoric underlines her non-inclusive politics.
But Lee is recasting herself as politically independent, a champion of the middle class, the grassroots and the underprivileged, and says her yet unnamed political party will reflect that.
She is promising that the new party, which she plans to build on her Justice Alliance, will not be pro-Beijing and will be critical of the Hong Kong government.
Already, Lee is considering a run for the the District Council or Legislative Council, either of which will mark her debut in the political mainstream.
Not that she isn’t already there given her high public profile.
The Hong Kong media has given her a platform, although not always favorable but certainly useful in spreading her message.
Most of it comes from her position as leader of the Justice Alliance, which describes itself on its Facebook page as a community organization, and as president of the Federation of Parent Teacher Associations of Hong Kong.
She also publishes a Christian publication.
Christian groups and parents could be the backbone of her political support if she decides to run for the legislature.
That will pit her against pro-democracy activists who accuse these groups of being fence-sitters during the street protests.
And how will her prospective candidacy go down with Beijing loyalists who have supported her?
That’s something Lee may be about to know.
Meanwhile, pan-democrats who have taken the moral high ground in Hong Kong’s fractured politics, have something to think about as Lee stakes her own claim to that mantle.
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