Shortly after student leaders Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow were sentenced to 6-8 months in prison by the Court of Appeal last week, the pan-democrats published a joint statement demanding that Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor immediately stop the “political persecution” of those who took part in the 2014 Occupy Movement.
In the statement, the pan-democrats accused Lam of saying one thing but doing exactly the opposite: while on one hand she has pledged to facilitate reconciliation in society, her administration has continued to come after student leaders and other social activists in an apparent effort to make an example of them.
The opposition groups lashed out at the perceived hypocrisy and crackdown on dissent, describing it as “despicable”.
Coming to the facts, Lam, one must admit, did make a painstaking effort, before and after she assumed office on July 1, to mend fences with the pan-democrats and restore harmony to society.
Unfortunately, force of circumstance has rendered her efforts completely futile. For example, just two weeks into her office, the disqualification of four localist lawmakers by the court spelt a sudden end to her honeymoon period with the opposition.
Then came the controversy surrounding the co-location arrangements for the cross-border express rail link, which further added to the tensions between the pan-democrats and the government.
Now, the imprisonment of the three student leaders last week was simply the last straw that placed the pan-democrats on a war footing against Lam.
However, while the pan-democrats appear to be rattling their sabers and preparing for an all-out confrontation with the administration, surprisingly, Lam’s consultation exercise over her upcoming Policy Address remains on course and on schedule.
And despite her seemingly rock-bottom relations with the pan-democrats, much to everyone’s surprise, so far none of the mainstream pan-democratic parties has cancelled their scheduled meetings with Lam over the Policy Address.
The news suggests that the pan-democrats are not ready for a full rupture with Lam yet, and are still going relatively easy on her, at least for now.
While relations between the pan-democrats and Lam might have hit a low, it appears things between the two sides haven’t reached the point of no-return yet.
Meanwhile, some in the government have argued that it is unfair to blame Lam for the imprisonment of the student leaders.
That is because the decision to appeal against the initial sentences on the activists was made by Lam’s predecessor, Leung Chun-ying, and not by Lam herself.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Aug 18
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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