Date
25 September 2017
JImmy Lai is reputedly the biggest political donor to the pan-democrats. The sale of his Next Magazine to a pro-Beijing tycoon deprives the democrats of a platform. Photo:Facebook
JImmy Lai is reputedly the biggest political donor to the pan-democrats. The sale of his Next Magazine to a pro-Beijing tycoon deprives the democrats of a platform. Photo:Facebook

No end in sight for pan-democrats’ ordeal

So what could happen in 96 hours? In the Hollywood blockbuster Taken, the main character played by Liam Neeson succeeded in rescuing his daughter, despite enormous odds, from a bunch of human traffickers in Paris within 96 hours.

The pan-democrats just gone through a 96-hour ordeal which was even more dramatic, devastating and unendurable than what Liam Neeson experienced in the movie.

First, they were shocked by the death of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo on Thursday last week. In particular, many seasoned pan-democrats such as founding members of the Democratic Party Albert Ho and Cheung Man-kwong, as well as unionist Lee Cheuk-yan, were devastated by his death as they had personally known Liu since 1989.

After Liu was arrested and remanded in custody by Beijing in 2008 on a charge of “attempting to subvert the Chinese government”, they did what they could to push for his release. However, their efforts proved futile as Liu eventually died of liver cancer in state custody.

On Friday, less than 24 hours after Liu’s death, disaster struck once again for the pan-democrats when the High Court disqualified four localist lawmakers for failing to take their oath of office properly in October.

The loss of four seats overnight has not only spelled disaster for the pan-democrats, but has also fundamentally upset the balance of power in Legco, with the pro-establishment camp now in complete control of both the functional and geographical constituencies.

As far as the disqualified lawmakers are concerned, their misery is far from over. The Legco secretariat might demand the return of all of their salaries and reimbursable expenses, not to mention the burden of enormous attorney’s fees if they appeal against the court decision.

Yet, as the saying goes, “it never rains but it pours”, things just kept going downhill for the pan-democrats. On Monday, Next Digital Group announced it had sealed the deal to sell Next Magazine to a local pro-establishment businessman.

Founded in 1990 by Jimmy Lai, the alleged chief political donor to the pan-democrats, Next Magazine has long been known for its die-hard anti-communist stance and as a de facto mouthpiece for the opposition camp. The sale of Next Magazine to a pro-establishment tycoon means the pan-democrats have lost a major propaganda platform.

With half a dozen more opposition lawmakers still awaiting trial for failing to take their oath properly and facing the possibility of disqualification, it seems there is no end in sight to the ordeal of the pan-democrats.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on July 19

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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RT/RA

A columnist at the Hong Kong Economic Journal

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