James Tien Pei-chun, an honorary chairman of the Liberal Party, has been out of the Legislative Council since 2016, but he still likes making comments on current affairs on Facebook.
Last month, Tien uploaded a video clip to call attention to the poor condition of a newly built basement underpass near the West Kowloon Cultural District.
More recently, he lashed out at two pro-establishment lawmakers, Ann Chiang Lai-wan and Priscilla Leung Mei-fun of the Kowloon West constituency, for allegedly failing to do their job properly.
Some Liberal Party members are said to be worried and concerned about the potential repercussions of Tien’s witty, satirical and sometimes inflammatory remarks on social media, which are directed at both the government and other lawmakers.
They note that there has been a substantial improvement in the relations between the Liberal Party and the government over the past two years. In fact, two Liberals have been recruited into Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s cabinet, and it has become extremely rare for the party to criticize the administration over policy issues in a high-profile manner, except for matters that directly concern the interests of the business sector.
The Liberal Party was the first pro-establishment faction to throw its weight behind the proposed cross-harbor tunnel toll adjustments put forward by the administration.
As such, these Liberals are worried that Tien’s provocative rhetoric might give rise to an impression that the party is returning to its previous role of playing the “bad boy” in the pro-establishment camp.
However, incumbent Liberal Party leader Felix Chung Kwok-pan has eagerly rallied to Tien’s defense.
While admitting that there could be voices of concern about the matter within the party, Chung stressed that Tien’s remarks won’t affect the party, nor do they represent the official stand of the party, because Tien is no longer a lawmaker and he is simply expressing his personal views on social media.
Chung’s view was echoed by another Liberal Party member, who agreed that since Tien has been restored as an “ordinary citizen”, he is entitled to speak his mind like anyone else is, adding that Tien’s posts are neither fabricated nor groundless.
The partymate added that even sitting pro-establishment lawmakers themselves have a responsibility to raise the red flag whenever they notice anything outrageous about public affairs.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Feb 2
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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