24 October 2016
Pan-democrats failed to block approval of additional funding for the Express Rail Link project despite discussing new ways of protest ahead of the vote. Photo: YouTube
Pan-democrats failed to block approval of additional funding for the Express Rail Link project despite discussing new ways of protest ahead of the vote. Photo: YouTube

How pan-democrats deceive their supporters

One of the most disappointing things about Hong Kong’s pan-democrats is that they are not only incompetent, but they also, from time to time, deliberately create misconceptions in the minds of the public in order to deceive the citizens and hold their support base.

The most recent example of that was seen during the Legco New Territories East by-election late last month, when pan-democrats were begging their supporters to vote for Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu of the Civic Party.

Yeung must win to ensure the marginal majority of the pan-democrats in the geographical constituency in the legislature, the pan-democrats said.

Otherwise, the pro-establishment camp will have enough votes to amend the Rules of Procedures of the Legco to ban filibuster, which is the only means the opposition camp has to stop the legco from passing unpopular or unjust bills submitted by the Leung Chun-ying regime, pan-democrats warned.

Many voters seemed to buy into their sales pitch and voted for Yeung, who finally beat the DAB candidate by more than 10,000 votes and got elected.

However, what the pan-democrats didn’t tell their supporters is that filibuster as a means of resistance in Legco had already been ruled null and void by the High Court four years ago, and as a result had completely lost its effect both tactically and constitutionally.

The fact that pan-democrats were hiding this truth from their supporters, so that they can continue to claim moral high ground and create a deceptive impression that they are bravely standing up against tyranny, suggests that these people are a bunch of hypocrites with no integrity whatsoever.

Some of you might doubt that I am wrong, as a filibuster mounted by the pan-democrats in the Legco recently did strike down the so-called “Cyber Article 23”. So filibuster still works, doesn’t it?

At first glance it might have been so. However the truth is that the government withdrew the Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2014 not because it was brought to its knees by the pan-democrats, but simply because the administration just didn’t mind doing so as the bill itself was politically insignificant and the only people that would be let down by its withdrawal were a handful of American copyright holders only.

However, based on what happened in the past few years in Legco, when it comes to important bills that mean life and death to the government such as the Appropriation Bill, filibusters might have postponed voting on these bills for a couple of weeks on a few occasions, but have never succeeded in striking down any single one of these bills. Simply put, filibusters are just a useless performance in front of camera staged by the pan-democrats to impress their supporters.

One might still remember that after Legco President Jasper Tsang Yuk-shing had invoked cloture in May 2011 on a bill that banned any legislator who had tendered his resignation from running again in the by-election that followed, radical lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung took the case to the High Court and filed a judicial review application over Tsang’s power to force a vote on the bill.

In May 2012 the High Court ruled in favor of Tsang, saying that under the principle of the separation of the three branches, the judiciary had no constitutional right to interfere in how the legislature was run, and therefore the court agreed that the decision on invoking cloture rested completely with the Legco president himself.

Then in September 2014 the Court of Final Appeal again ruled in favour of Tsang citing the same arguments. However, the significance of these court rulings largely went unnoticed as the public was captivated by the Occupy Movement at that time.

As Tsang has already vowed that he will not be running in the upcoming Legco election, the next Legco president, certainly someone from the pro-establishment camp, might not be as profound and tolerant as the incumbent, and may invoke cloture much more frequently. Hence, there will certainly be even less room for filibusters in the next Legco.

To members of the “Valor Faction (勇武派)” who intend to run in the election in September, it’s time for them to understand the truth: filibuster no longer works and is nothing but a farce staged by the pan-democrats who otherwise cannot come up with any other trick to please their supporters.

Therefore, it would be a complete waste of time for anyone who really wants to make a difference to join the washed-up pan-democrats and take part in their scam in the next Legco.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on March 15.

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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