Thanks to WhatsApp, Hong Kong people have been given a rare insider view of the secret deliberations within the pro-establishment camp before and after the historic voting on the political reform package on June 18.
Suddenly, the blame has shifted from the pro-government legislators, who staged the bungled walkout that resulted in the government bill’s resounding defeat, to Legislative Council President Jasper Tsang Yuk-shing, whose impartiality in the chamber is now being questioned after his WhatsApp messages to the pro-Beijing lawmakers were leaked to Oriental Daily.
So who is the Edward Snowden in Legco? The question could be rephrased this way: Who wants to remove Jasper Tsang?
Given Tsang’s godlike status in the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong — he founded the party, in fact — the possibility is simply too remote that the leakage came from the DAB.
We can also rule out the pan-democrats, who should have no access to the highly sensitive group messages. (And since we’re at it, Charles Mok and Sin Chung-kai are IT experts, not hackers).
In fact, many would wonder if pan-democrats really want Tsang, whom many of them regard as a friend, to step down. His successor could be worse.
What about the other pro-Beijing political party leaders?
Both Regina Ip Lau Shuk-yee of the New People’s Party and Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung of the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong are being urged to resign from the Executive Council for participating in the walkout. Yes, they would like it very much if they got off the hook and the heat was transferred to someone else.
But, don’t forget, Ip was not even in the WhatsApp circle after her e-mail and bank account were hacked.
By the same token, it is highly doubtful if Lau Wong-fat, a.k.a. Fat Suk, the 79-year-old King of the New Territories whose tardiness was the root of the pro-administration camp’s debacle, was the source of the leak. We’re not even sure if he knew how to send a text message.
James Tien Pei-chun of the Liberal Party has been quoted as saying that whoever leaked the WhatsApp messages was more stupid than pigs. If it were him, he surely deserved to be nominated for best actor in the Hong Kong Film Awards.
The government-friendly Sing Tao Daily suggests that the pro-establishment camp has pinned down a certain independent legislator as the leak.
The opposition Apple Daily, on the other hand, identifies independent lawmaker Paul Tse Wai-chun as one of the top six suspects in the WhatsApp leakage, saying that he was upset by the fiasco and he wanted Tsang to take the heat instead of those who joined the walkout.
Tse, as to be expected, vehemently denied the accusation. He told a radio station on Friday that he wouldn’t do anything to harm Tsang and the pro-government camp.
But he said he would rather keep his mouth shut and follow the general party line, reached during a late dinner at the Liaison Office, to stop the witch-hunt and finger-pointing.
Tse also also said there were many possibilities that led to the WhatsApp leakage, and the culprit may not necessarily be a Legco member.
He said there’s such a thing as phone hacking, or a legislator’s phone may have been used by other people.
Meanwhile, Now TV points to a clue in one of the messages. Apparently, the whistleblower mistakenly thought that it was sent by an assistant of Chan Yuen-han of the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions, when it fact it was sent by Chan herself.
This suggests that the whistleblower is not too close to Chan, otherwise he or she would have recognized Chan’s number.
Whoever is the whistleblower, it is quite clear that he or she wants Jasper Tsang kicked out.
Besides, the WhatsApp case points to the need for legislators and other government officials to be more security-conscious about their communications.
Not too many legislators are known to be using the more secure Snapchat or even the Telegram app.
If I were Liaison Office chief Zhang Xiaoming, I would ask, “Why use Facebook’s WhatsApp, not Tencent’s WeChat?”
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