21 August 2019
John Tsang might come across as open-minded in the eyes of the public but he has never openly committed himself to fighting for genuine democracy. Photo: Reuters
John Tsang might come across as open-minded in the eyes of the public but he has never openly committed himself to fighting for genuine democracy. Photo: Reuters

John Tsang has to prove he is the real deal

Are all pro-democracy voters supposed to vote for former financial secretary John Tsang as the next chief executive? The answer is absolutely not.

Unless you belong to the washed-up pan-democrats or are paid to write political propaganda for them, you are by no means under any obligation to vote for the favorite of the pan-democrats.

They no longer represent the vast majority of the public anymore.

Having spent years living and studying in the US, John Tsang might come across as being a rather open-minded political figure compared with mediocre lackeys in CY Leung’s administration.

But let’s not forget he has never been, or probably will never be, a leader that has ever committed himself to fighting for genuine democracy for Hong Kong.

As such, Beijing’s final approval of Tsang’s resignation and its green light to his CE bid might have come as a piece of good news and a shot in the arm for the pan-democrats who are secretly rooting for Tsang, but for the rest of us, there is nothing much to celebrate.

In my opinion, the only criteria for the 325 pro-democracy members of the Election Committee for judging a candidate should be firstly, whether or not what he or she did in the past is in line with democratic principles, and secondly, whether he or she dares to stand up and be counted on the issue of universal suffrage once elected even if that might risk angering Beijing.

And the earlier they pledge to commit themselves to fighting for democracy and put forward a clear roadmap to achieve that goal, the more reliable and trustworthy they will be.

Any belated promise of universal suffrage made by any candidate may only be a gesture of political expedience in order to cheat members of the Election Committee out of their votes.

So far retired judge Woo Kwok-hing is the only candidate who has spelled out a crystal-clear stance on our democratization process and is also the only one who has put forward a detailed and feasible roadmap toward universal suffrage.

In contrast, none of the other CE hopefuls has had the guts to touch on the issue, let alone put it on top of their campaign agenda.

Apart from pledging to fight for genuine democracy, another important criterion to measure a candidate is whether he or she would be willing to promise that they will, once elected, call an immediate halt to the legal challenges against the legitimacy of the four localist lawmakers who were elected to our legislature by about 20 percent of our eligible voters.

Some might doubt whether it is suitable to ask all candidates, particularly John Tsang, to promise to stop going after the four at this delicate moment because that might put him at a huge disadvantage against other pro-establishment contenders and undermine his campaign.

My answer to those who have such a doubt is: ever since the Umbrella Revolution, hundreds of thousands of our brave and fearless citizens have been taking to the streets to raise their demand for democracy on behalf of their fellow citizens and to stand up against tyranny even at the risk of criminal liability.

Therefore, promising to listen to the people’s political aspirations and stop persecuting opposition lawmakers is probably the barest minimum any decent candidate with the least sense of social conscience should do, even though it will certainly upset Beijing.

If John Tsang, the man who has claimed to be deeply concerned about his people and his beloved city, won’t even take such a minor risk, then how could he convince the 325 pro-democracy members of the Election Committee and the general public that he is the one we can rely on to create a better Hong Kong in the next five years?

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Jan. 17

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

– Contact us at [email protected]


HKEJ columnist

EJI Weekly Newsletter

Please click here to unsubscribe