Date
23 July 2017
The continued portrayal of John Tsang as the underdog against former chief secretary Carrie Lam is an obvious tactic to help him draw support from the pro-democracy camp. Photo: HKEJ
The continued portrayal of John Tsang as the underdog against former chief secretary Carrie Lam is an obvious tactic to help him draw support from the pro-democracy camp. Photo: HKEJ

Pan-democrats should beware of Beijing’s trap

“Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung’s bid to run for chief executive drew a mixed response from the pro-democracy camp.

Many pan-democrats accused him of rocking the boat and disrupting their plan to effectively use their 325 votes in the Election Committee during the nomination period and in the March 26 election.

“Long Hair” might be stubborn as a mule and a bit of a fundamentalist, but he is not entirely wrong in insisting that the pro-democracy camp should nominate their own candidate, instead of backing pro-establishment contenders such as former financial secretary John Tsang and retired judge Woo Kwok-hing.

It would be a huge strategic mistake if the pro-democracy camp doesn’t nominate its own candidate. 

In fact, by endorsing John Tsang and Woo Kwok-hing, the pan-democrats are walking right into a trap carefully prepared by Beijing.

Consider this: Beijing didn’t bar Tsang from running in the election, and its continued portrayal of the former financial secretary as the underdog against former chief secretary Carrie Lam is an obvious tactic to help him draw support from the pro-democracy camp.

In other words, what Beijing is trying to do is to lure the pan-democrats into endorsing a pro-establishment candidate, which is Tsang.

Then there is Woo. The fact that Beijing’s mouthpieces in Hong Kong have never criticized the seemingly pro-democracy aspirant for his stance on universal suffrage and the legislation of Article 23 of the Basic Law suggests that central authorities could also be using him to draw votes from the pan-democrats.

By luring the pro-democracy camp into endorsing both Tsang and Woo, Beijing is hoping to exhaust its 325 votes in the Election Committee, thereby preventing it from nominating its own candidates, and making sure no matter who is elected, he or she will be a pro-establishment figure.

Therefore, I strongly urge the pro-democracy camp to endorse John Tsang only, and then use its remaining votes to nominate its own candidate.

Besides, the pro-democracy camp will send a very bad political message if it doesn’t nominate its own candidate.

Firstly, it is likely to give the public the impression that it is not only betraying its democratic ideals, but also doesn’t even bother to put up a fight against Beijing’s interference in our election.

Secondly, if no one from the pro-democracy camp is running, then the CE election will regress into a small-circle election fully manipulated by Beijing, like the one in 1997.

Thirdly, if the pan-democrats resign themselves to a pro-establishment candidate like John Tsang, who is highly popular but is not committed to fighting for democracy, it would amount to a total capitulation.

Why would Beijing consider allowing a pro-democracy figure to become chief executive in the future if this bunch of pushovers can be pleased so easily?

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Feb. 22

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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RT/CG

HKEJ contributor

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