Date
11 December 2018
Radical elements within Hong Kong’s opposition groups have been accused of undermining the electoral prospects of pan-democrats by encouraging their supporters to stay away from voting. Photo: Bloomberg
Radical elements within Hong Kong’s opposition groups have been accused of undermining the electoral prospects of pan-democrats by encouraging their supporters to stay away from voting. Photo: Bloomberg

How the ‘scorched-earth faction’ is undermining the opposition

The pro-establishment camp has triumphed in both the Legislative Council by-elections this year for a Kowloon West seat. Now, the time has come to look at the inadvertent role that the “scorched-earth faction” of the opposition bloc may have played in ensuring such outcome.

The faction is influential in elections, but only in a negative way so as to rob the pro-democracy camp of its chances of victory, critics say.

So, we need to ask this question: does the so-called “scorched-earth faction” really live up to its name?

For sure, the faction doesn’t identify with the traditional pan-democrats even though it belongs to non-pro-establishment camp.

Meanwhile, it seems to bear a deep grudge against the pan-dems, and perhaps sees the latter as another of its enemies.

Perhaps what the “scorched-earth bloc” intends to do, according to its discourse, is to bring down every pan-democratic candidate so as to allow the establishment camp to take full control of the legislature, thereby expediting the political degeneration of the city and causing more and more Hong Kong people to wake up to the need to rise up against Beijing.

To achieve their goals, “scorched-earth” supporters have resorted to the means of not voting in recent elections in order to jeopardize the odds of pan-democratic candidates.

In my opinion, even if the faction really succeeds in wrecking the pan-dems’ election bids, I can’t see how the faction can truly benefit from it in any way.

It is because, supporters of the “scorched-earth bloc” don’t have any agenda or determination of seizing power, which means what they are doing is basically harming the pan-dems without benefiting themselves whatsoever.

In other words, the bloc is nothing more than a loosely organized group made up of people who are highly disappointed at Legco and who are highly contemptuous of the pan-dems.

The act of not voting is a means of negating the democratic principle and the election system.

Anyone in society is free to take the view that the legislature is useless, and is perfectly free to dislike the pan-dems.

Still, we have to ask, is refusing to participate in elections the only way to express one’s contempt for the pan-dems and disenchantment with the current legislature?

The answer is, of course not, because there are at least two other alternative ways. One, voting for pro-establishment candidates, or voting for the candidates nominated by the “scorched-earth bloc” itself. And the other way is through casting blank ballots.

If the “scorched-earth bloc” simply refers to those who didn’t vote, then perhaps all citizens who either haven’t registered as voters or the nearly 50 percent registered voters who didn’t bother to vote on election days can be classified as members of the bloc.

And if that logic stands, then the faction would definitely be the largest powerful political force in the city.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Nov 30

Translation by Alan Lee with additional reporting

[Chinese version 中文版]

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JC/RC

HKEJ contributor

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