18 September 2019
What Jasper Tsang did actually constitutes a clear breach of public confidence and trust in his capacity as Legco president. Photo: HKEJ
What Jasper Tsang did actually constitutes a clear breach of public confidence and trust in his capacity as Legco president. Photo: HKEJ

Pan-democrats should not have let Jasper Tsang off the hook

Legislative Council President Jasper Tsang Yok-sing has come under heavy fire ever since his WhatsApp messages to several pro-establishment lawmakers during the June 18 electoral reform voting had been leaked to the media, showing that Tsang, who was supposed to remain impartial at all times as head of the legislative body, was actually co-ordinating or even commanding the actions of the pro-establishment camp inside the chamber.

It is like Tsang was playing the corrupt referee and the coach of the pro-establishment team in a soccer game at the same time. What he did actually constitutes a clear breach of public confidence and trust in his capacity as the Legco president, causing severe damage to the credibility of our legislature.

Ridiculously, the pan-democrats simply let him get away with what he did and only demanded that he apologize in public and promise not to do it again.

I am really frustrated with the fact that the pan-democrats have given up their moral principles and failed to defend the reputation of our legislature this time, probably for fear that they might end up with someone even worse as Legco president if they succeeded in ousting Tsang.

In fact, what Tsang did has completely ruined his image as an “open-minded leftist”, something he has made strenuous effort to build over the years.

However, while the public might have come under the impression that he was the most outspoken and unbiased figure among the pro-establishment camp, I personally have never regarded him as an “open-minded leftist” at all, based on my observation and understanding of this particular individual.

Tsang Yok-sing was born to a traditional leftist family. His father was a member of the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce and sympathetic towards the Communists in the early days.

Tsang has two siblings, all of whom were in support of the leftists during the 1967 riots. His brother Tsang Tak-sing was even arrested and put behind bars for supporting the leftists.

After the riots the leftist camp adjusted their strategy and abandoned their self-isolation policy. They started sending some of their young elites to local universities in an attempt to infiltrate the establishment.

Among these elites was Tsang Yok-sing, who kept a low profile when he was studying in the University of Hong Kong and eventually graduated with first-class honors, after which he declined some high-paying job offers and joined the pro-Beijing Pui Kiu Middle School as a teacher.

In the wake of the June 4th incident in 1989, which subsequently gave rise to the Democratic Party, Tsang Yok-sing, who has never publicly denied his identity as an underground communist, was entrusted with the critical mission of forming an indigenous political party loyal to Beijing in order to counter the Democrats.

As far as his public image is concerned, the changes Tsang has undergone in recent years are indeed nothing but a set of carefully planned and executed publicity stunts to deceive the public, imitating the way his predecessor Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai had built her own image of being impartial and outspoken.

By doing so, he probably hopes that he will continue to have a promising future after he retires from politics. However, his plan has been rendered futile after the Legco farce, and so much for Tsang’s image which he has spent so much time and effort to build over the years.

Proposing a motion of no-confidence against Tsang in Legco, whether it will succeed or not, is a matter of moral principle, and there is absolutely no room for compromise on this matter.

The pan-democrats indeed owe the public an explanation as to why they didn’t even bother to make this purely political gesture.

The article first appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on July 3.

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