No one emerges well from the oath farce

October 25, 2016 15:29
Protesters hold printouts depicting Yau Wai-ching (right, in first pic) and Baggio Leung as traitors outside the Legco Complex while pro-Beijing lawmakers dress their seats with Chinese and Hong Kong SAR flags. Photos: Reuters

New blood is supposed to bring in new dynamics and catalyst for change.

But the absurd oath-taking row triggered by two newly-elected Legco members, which really marks a travesty of decency and ceremonial rituals, has been a big letdown to many.

Following the incidents of the past couple of weeks, I won't be surprised if there is some shared remorse among those who cast their votes for Sixtus "Baggio" Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching in the Legislative Council election last month.

I'm not suggesting that showing one's stance, of dissent, when taking oath is morally wrong. Yet, in the Youngspiration duo case, their political careers might have already come to an end before they could even officially embark upon them.

Amid an uproar from Beijing loyalists, and given the government's determination to drag them down, the chances of the two young radical lawmakers-elect taking office appear to range from slim to almost none.

Many ordinary Hongkongers are also perturbed about the whole controversy.

Among other localist Legco first-timers, Civic Passion's Cheung Chung-tai has done his show better. After repeating the hackneyed oath pledging allegiance and loyalty, which Cheung couldn't treat with more contempt, he paused and then chanted "rewrite constitution, Hong Kong people first".

His oath was deemed valid as there was no twist, omission or admission in wording.

Now, we know how inept Leung and Yau have been.

I know there are some who rubbernecked at the scene to their hearts' content, but the pair has gained nothing from the farce, which, as it turned out, was show of a red rag to the bull.

The actions of the Leung and Yau have given a perfect excuse to Beijing lackeys and the SAR authorities to suppress radical opponents and score extra brownie points with their mainland bosses.

Leung and Yau have made a fool of their voters and comrades in arms. The takeaway from the whole incident is that they have no brain for the long battle inside the chamber. And don't expect them to be able to deliberate on bills properly even if they can manage to hold on to their seats.

I have reason to question Leung's integrity after he, with a smirk in front of the camera, blamed his "Ap Lei Chau accent" for pronouncing China as "Shina", saying he's been living on the island for too long.

Does he think Hongkongers are all idiots?

To some extent they are even worse than the bunch of rubber stamps that stack the legislature, as the pick of voters in an open election turns out to be a big disgrace to the system itself.

Now I only hope people won't lose confidence in future elections.

'Shina' was once a good word

As for the aggravated patriots, they should not make a fuss out of the word "Shina" either. Nor should they rush to link the word to treason.

"Shina" originates from Sanskrit. In contrast to its current derogatory connotation, for most part of history it was a respectful word for China, particularly in the Buddhist classics, meaning literally the "faraway land of wisdom".

The word entered the Japanese vocabulary in the 9th century amid the nation's frequent cultural exchanges with the Imperial China, when the Tang dynasty ruled the central kingdom.

It was only after the 1912 Revolution, and the demise of the Qing dynasty, did Chinese officials begin to feel affronted by this word.

In 1913 the Republic of China's top envoy in Tokyo demanded in a démarche that "Shina" be abolished in Japan's official documents. The request was rebuffed. Chinese people only found more negative nuance in "Shina" as Sino-Japanese ties deteriorated and ultimately descended into belligerence eighteen years later.

Now, when members of the pro-Beijing bloc have lost no time bombarding Leung and Yau's choice of the word, isn't it ironic that many of them have foreign passports and are Christians themselves?

It appears to me that they have two masters to submit to: God as Christians and Beijing as lawmakers. But don't forget that the Chinese Communist Party is, as always, atheist.

And, I wonder how Beijing may feel when quite a few local politicians say they will "let God decide" when asked about their political ambitions.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Oct. 18.

Translation by Frank Chen with additional reporting 

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Read more:

Yau Wai-ching: I might be stripped of my post any day

The government goes to war

Abuse of process

Why hyper-nationalism is a double-edged sword 

Angry pro-Beijing activists wave Chinese flags and posters accusing Yau as a traitor. Photo: Reuters
A protester gives his thumb up after Leung and Yau were unable to retake their oath due to an insufficient quorum, after a walk-out by members of the establishment camp. Photo: AFP

A famous Hong Kong writer; founder of the Hong Kong Economic Journal