27 October 2016
The bungled walkout from Legco reflected poorly on the leadership and competence of senior pro-establishment lawmakers (from left) Ip Kwok-him, Starry Lee, Regina Ip, Jeffrey Lam and Tam Yiu-chung, among others. Photo: Reuters
The bungled walkout from Legco reflected poorly on the leadership and competence of senior pro-establishment lawmakers (from left) Ip Kwok-him, Starry Lee, Regina Ip, Jeffrey Lam and Tam Yiu-chung, among others. Photo: Reuters

Pro-govt camp will soon have to pay for its fatal mistake

Beijing’s plan couldn’t have been clearer. 

It was to make sure all 42 pro-establishment lawmakers voted in favour of the reform package.

That would pave the way for a political onslaught on the pan-democrats, who would be accused of obstructing the progress of Hong Kong’s democratization and depriving the city’s five million eligible voters of their right to vote in the election for the next chief executive.

By putting the entire blame on the pan-democrats for strangling our democratization process, Beijing was set to mount a massive offensive against them in the upcoming district council and Legislative Council elections, in an attempt to annihilate the pan-democrats and eliminate them from the political scene once and for all.

At the very least, Beijing would love to see a legislature clearly dominated by the pro-establishment camp in the future.

However, whether Beijing’s plan can materialize now is in serious doubt after the blunder over the vote for the electoral reform package last week.

The pro-establishment camp in Legco has proven itself to be incompetent, unreliable and ill-disciplined.

None of the pro-Beijing legislators can get away with the responsibility for the last-minute blunder, including the 32 of them who spilled their guts outside the chamber after failing to vote and the 10 of them who remained in the chamber — eight of whom voted against the reform proposal, one for it, and the remaining one ending up being too confused to vote.

It is just a matter of time before they will face their punishment for disobeying orders from their bosses in Beijing.

Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung and Chan Yuen-han all made tearful pleas on television for forgiveness from the public for the mistake they had made.

Whether these were just publicity stunts or not, it suggested beyond doubt that they were scared to death.

The fact that Ip and Lam, both of whom are members of the political elite in the eyes of Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong, failed to demonstrate any leadership and messed things up at the critical moment suggests they are just a bunch of unreliable political trash.

As regards Chan, the fact that she acted on her own and didn’t obey the instructions to walk out at the critical moment seems totally out of character for a seasoned indigenous Communist like her who has made strenuous efforts throughout her political career to toe the party line.

Starry Lee Wai-king, the supernova of the pro-establishment camp and new chairwoman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, also made a fool of herself in the bungled walkout, indicating she is nothing but a political figurehead.

Nor did seasoned indigenous Communists Tam Yiu-chung and Ip Kwok-him behave like decisive leaders — both remained under the sway of Lam throughout the saga.

It appears there is neither coordination nor coherence within the pro-establishment camp, let alone any convincing leader who can make members fall into line at the critical moment.

Although Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying was not directly involved in the debacle, he displayed his own incompetence and dysfunctional leadership.

The fact that he didn’t even bother to summon all the pro-establishment lawmakers afterward to reflect on the disaster constitutes a dereliction of duty on his part.

To redeem himself, Leung had no choice but to yield the priority in Legco he had demanded for the government’s funding request for the establishment of the Innovation and Technology Bureau to 11 other more pressing funding requests concerning livelihood and economic issues.

To make matters worse for the Beijing loyalists, another scandal quickly broke out.

Some WhatsApp messages were leaked to the media, showing that Legco president Jasper Tsang Yok-shing had been coordinating or even commanding the actions of the pro-establishment camp in the chamber until the minute before the reform package was put to the vote.

Tsang, having seriously hurt the credibility of Legco and violated his neutrality as Legco president, must step down.

The once arrogant, pontifical and self-inflated pro-establishment camp lawmakers were given a black eye this time.

In the meantime, although the majority of the general public don’t see any prospect of a genuine election any time soon, at least they have some idiots to keep them entertained.

This article first appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on June 26.

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Former radio talk show host; Columnist at the Hong Kong Economic Journal

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