Date
23 October 2018
So far, none of the official Beijing mouthpieces has rebuked Woo Kwok-hing’s political reform proposal, suggesting that perhaps at least some elements might be acceptable to Beijing. Photo: HKEJ
So far, none of the official Beijing mouthpieces has rebuked Woo Kwok-hing’s political reform proposal, suggesting that perhaps at least some elements might be acceptable to Beijing. Photo: HKEJ

Woo Kwok-hing could be a good Plan B for pan-democrats

It has become almost crystal-clear that Beijing doesn’t want Financial Secretary John Tsang to run for chief executive. It has been almost a month now since Tsang tendered his resignation but the central government is yet to approve it.

The fact that Tsang is still waiting for instructions from Beijing and dare not declare his candidacy on his own before he is given the green light shows he is just another faint-hearted bureaucrat with no guts and courage.

Given that, is he really the kind of man on whom the people of Hong Kong can rely to defend their rights and preserve their existing way of life? Likewise, is he really worth the pan-democrats’ political investment?

When I was writing this article, there was talk that Beijing was trying to lure Tsang into giving up running for CE by offering him the plum job of vice president of the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank.

If Tsang doesn’t dismiss that rumour immediately, then I believe it would be logical to infer that he was actually the one who spread the rumour in order to test the waters, in particular, to find out Beijing’s real stance on his CE bid.

The problem is, it doesn’t really matter where the rumour came from, or who actually spread it in the first place.

The key question here is, what would Tsang do next if Beijing continued to sit on his resignation? And how would his de facto supporters, the pan-democrats, react and coordinate? Are they going to mobilize the public again and stage another mass movement in support of him?

It appears the Beijing bosses are able to read the pan-democrats’ mind and know that they are too gutless to mount an all-out campaign for Tsang this time, and hence their continued delay in approving his resignation. That said, I would say John Tsang is unlikely to be the next CE.

In fact, I always have a low opinion of Tsang, not because he is the favorite of the hypocritical pan-democrats, but because he has been so indifferent to the underprivileged in our society throughout his term as financial secretary, and also because he has never committed himself to fighting for true democracy for Hong Kong.

if Tsang had the guts to announce his candidacy without Beijing’s permission immediately, put forward a clear roadmap to universal suffrage and call on the people of Hong Kong to support his CE bid, I myself would be the first to sign up for his campaign. But of course I don’t think he has that kind of courage.

And that raises another interesting question: since Tsang is so wimpy that he doesn’t even have the courage to defy Beijing and put up a fight, will the pan-democrats switch their support to retired judge Woo Kwok-hing? Perhaps it is time for the pan-democrats to think about that.

As I said in an article three weeks ago, Woo could be a long shot in the race but he still has a fighting chance.

Over the past one month or so, things have been going pretty smoothly for him, and he has been increasingly coming across as being a candidate who is taking his campaign really seriously.

What is particularly noteworthy about Woo’s campaign is that so far, none of the official Beijing mouthpieces in Hong Kong and in the mainland has spelled out its stance on his political reform proposal, suggesting that perhaps at least some elements in his proposal might sound acceptable to Beijing.

That can probably explain why the pro-Beijing media didn’t reject his proposal outright, at least until now.

So who can say Woo can’t win?

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Jan. 10

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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RT/RA

HKEJ columnist

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