It needs to be said as clearly as possible that Leung Chun-ying and the pro-government camp have dropped all pretense of interest in the rule of law or indeed in the validity of election results that they don’t like.
So, what next?
Before we get to that, let’s quickly review what has happened since the hapless Legco Youngspiration duo decided to make a political protest out of taking their oaths as legislators.
1. The government tried and failed to obtain an injunction to overturn the Legco President’s decision to give the pair another chance to take their oaths. However, it was successful in obtaining leave for launching a judicial review of this decision.
2. Pro-government legislators then succeeded in making the court’s decision null and void by filibustering and bringing Legco’s business to a halt.
3. Andrew Leung, the Legco President, compounded his fellow pro-government legislators’ disregard for the court ruling by making a U-turn on his own ruling, saying that no decision on oath taking could be made pending the judicial review. His grounds for this about face were that if he did not stop the legislators taking their oaths, Legco business would grind to a halt. We all know how that worked out.
4. A pro-government mob, including imported protesters from across the border, were mobilized last Wednesday to intimidate legislators supporting the Youngspiration pair.
5. The government amended its original application for the judicial review seeking a specific ban on the pair being allowed to serve as legislators. It should also be remembered that prior to the election the government managed to ban six localist candidates from even standing in the polls.
6. The usual suspects were placed in front of the media to declare that if the court did not adhere to the government’s wishes, the bosses in Beijing would simply reinterpret the Basic Law to ensure that the pair cannot take their seats. In other words, Hong Kong’s courts can be relegated to irrelevance.
So, far, so bad but in addition, Legco proceedings have effectively been brought to a halt.
By the day pressure mounts on the pro-democracy camp, be it by stationing another mob outside the home of pro-democrat newspaper publisher Jimmy Lai or by various lap dogs running around threatening all manner of action against the democrats.
And, apparently, secret preparations are under way for by-elections to replace the Youngspiration pair — as night follows day, if they come to fruition we will see a new round of candidates being banned from even standing.
Meanwhile, lurking in the background is a messy power struggle taking place behind the scenes.
CY Leung is busy trying to cling on to his job as chief executive, other would-be candidates for the post scurry backwards and forwards trying to prove they are even more patriotic and anti-democratic than Mr Leung.
At the much visited office in Western where they go to make their pitch, there is also turmoil because of a separate bout of factional warfare emanating from Beijing.
The paper-thin farce of the pending Chief Executive election is no longer dressed up with any pretense of there being a real election, it is merely an endorsement exercise to be undertaken after the bosses in Beijing have decided who is to win.
The reckless antics of the Youngspiration duo have had other dire consequences.
This is most evident in the already battered local media where nearly (but not all) print and electronic outlets have been mobilized to engage in a bout of red flag waving.
The pretense of objective reporting has been cast aside as orders have been handed down to use this as an opportunity for a full scale propaganda assault on the democrats.
Where does this leave Hong Kong?
The simple answer is: in a very bad place because we have a leadership so caught up in their own power struggles as to be paying scant regard to the interests of the people they are supposed to lead.
While they strive for power and position, these people are sacrificing the rule of law, and they compound their offense by showing no remorse.
Layered on top is a degree of polarization in society that carries the dangers that tend to accompany this kind of development.
There is much talk of violence on the streets and the breakdown of civil society. I used to think this was rather alarmist, I am not sure now.
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