Despite the fact that the political honeymoon between Chief Executive Carrie Lam and the pan-democrats has ground to a sudden and unexpected halt following the disqualification of four localist lawmakers by the High Court, her consultation efforts over the upcoming policy address remain on course and on schedule.
And recently, all lawmakers, pan-democratic and pro-establishment alike, have received invitations from the government to meet with the CE to express their views.
However, it appears members of the pan-democratic camp have some differences of opinion as to whether to accept the invitation.
For example, localist lawmakers like Eddie Chu reiterated that unless Lam is willing to sincerely deal with the social and political repercussions of the disqualification lawsuits, he and his localist colleagues would not resume regular dialogue with her.
He said the pan-democrats had actually met and discussed their future relations with the administration shortly before Legco took its summer recess but were yet to reach a consensus.
It is likely that various parties in the pan-democratic camp might respond to Lam’s invitations in their own different ways. However, he added, even so, it shouldn’t be interpreted as a sign of deepening division among the pan-democrats.
On the other hand, mainstream pan-democrats such as the Democratic Party and the Civic Party both said they would accept Lam’s invitation and meet with her as scheduled. However, the two parties also said they would be meeting the CE mainly to “pass on their political message”.
As far as the Professional Commons is concerned, it said it hadn’t refused to meet with former chief executive CY Leung even when relations between the government and the pan-democrats hit rock-bottom under his rule, therefore it couldn’t see any reason why they should reject Lam’s invitation.
Back in 2014, the pan-democrats boycotted Leung’s policy address consultation exercise to protest against his crackdown on the Occupy Central movement.
In the meantime, some moderate pan-democrats also pointed out that the upcoming consultation meetings would be Lam’s last chance to mend fences with the pan-democrats.
In particular, her position on two key issues would determine whether the meetings would bear fruit — whether the Legco by-elections triggered by the disqualification cases would be carried out separately and whether disqualified lawmakers who are running again would be asked to sign a declaration pledging allegiance to the Basic Law.
They also warned that if Lam ignores public opinion and plays hard-line again, the pan-democrats would stand up against her with all their means like they did against CY Leung.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Aug 10
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
– Contact us at [email protected]