21 September 2019
It seems Democratic Party stalwarts like Emily Lau hope to step down in a dignified way one day and join the “loyal opposition”. Photo: HKEJ
It seems Democratic Party stalwarts like Emily Lau hope to step down in a dignified way one day and join the “loyal opposition”. Photo: HKEJ

Pan-democrats trying to make a killing before the game is over

Unlike what happened five years ago, the Democratic Party this time represented not only itself but also the entire pan-democratic camp in meeting with Feng Wei, deputy director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office.

Even though the meeting was arranged in total secrecy, the reaction of the pan-democrats has remained quite moderate so far.

It appears there was an unspoken agreement among the pan-democrats to remain completely silent on the 1st anniversary of the 831 Resolution in order to please the Communist Party.

No wonder Lau Siu-kai, the former chief adviser of the Central Policy Unit, said the party is trying to guide the pan-democrats on the path towards becoming the “loyal opposition”.

“Loyal opposition” is a terminology that only applies to truly democratic countries in the West, and there is no equivalent in Communist China.

Perhaps the closet resemblance to it is something called the “tail party”. As Elsie Leung Oi-sie has explained earlier, the Chinese Communist Party has always remained receptive to opposition parties as long as they remain loyal and submissive.

Like Professor Lau Siu-kai said, the loyal opposition can be considered part of the pro-establishment camp, and therefore their members can be appointed to key government positions.

Given its strong foundation and support at the community level, the Democratic Party, if successfully recruited by Beijing, would mean at least 10 years of stability and harmony in Hong Kong.

On the other hand, the potential for “cooperation” and “positive competition” between the Democrats and the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) is enormous in the upcoming District Council elections as their target voters often overlap.

Given all that, there are indeed considerable incentives for the Democrats to agree to their recruitment by Beijing.

For those heavyweights in the Democratic Party who are now pushing 60 and have achieved nothing in the fight for true democracy over the past 30 years, it is only a matter of time before they have to step down and hand over their seats to younger people.

The reason why Emily Lau, chairperson of the Democratic Party, brought a couple of young party leaders with her to meet Feng was all too obvious: to introduce her young successors to Beijing and hijack the party in order to transform it into a “tail party” under the so-called “multi-party cooperation system” led by the communists.

As long as the Democratic Party can maintain the number of its seats, seasoned party stalwarts like Emily Lau can hopefully step down in a dignified way one day and join the “loyal opposition” in order to retain their political influence after retirement.

In other words, they are simply paving the way for their smooth retirement and trying to retain their political influence afterwards, by turning their own party into a subordinate to the communists.

And their handpicked young successors can by no means overturn their decision or dissociate themselves from the plot because they themselves were involved in concluding the closed-door deal with Beijing, which basically makes them accomplices in the entire plot.

The fact that none of the major pan-democratic factions including the Labour Party and the Civic Party raised their voice against the secret meeting indicates that they have all capitulated following the unsuccessful Umbrella Movement in face of the hardliners in Beijing who refused to budge even an inch.

What they are attempting to do at this stage is to cut a deal with Beijing and gain as much advantage for themselves as possible by utilizing every bit of their political capital accumulated over the years.

As the old saying goes, they are working their hearts out “to make a killing before the game is over”.

Serving as a “tail party” for Beijing could be the best way out for the Democratic Party.

Once the Democratic Party agrees to Beijing’s recruitment, the DAB could be hit hardest, not because it is the nemesis of the Democrats, but because once the Democratic Party has gained Beijing’s favor, the DAB might need to turn over some of its influence and seats to the Democrats at Beijing’s order for the sake of building harmony. 

And there is no way the DAB can defy their bosses in Beijing; all the communist leaders are concerned about is the stability of Hong Kong. Everything else, including the wishes and emotions of the pro-establishment camp, have to take a backseat.

Having said that, I hereby urge the indigenous factions to actively take part in the upcoming District Council and Legislative Council elections, because the pan-democrats have already betrayed us in exchange for their own survival. We can no longer rely on them.

Although the chances of the candidates of the indigenous factions getting elected are remote, they can still use the elections as a platform to get their message across and rally public support.

Such kamikaze-style campaigns might yield no tangible results, but they will definitely pay off in the future, because a successful revolution always originates from the main street, rather than from someone blowing his own horn on internet radio or on Facebook.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Sep. 1.

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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HKEJ columnist