Despite CE apologies, defeated pro-Beijing pols still fuming

December 12, 2019 19:10
Chief Executive Carrie Lam hosted small gatherings with members of pro-establishment parties following their disastrous defeat in the recent District Council elections. Photo: HKEJ

Following the recent District Council elections, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has scheduled a banquet on Dec. 21 for retiring DC members and incumbents who failed to get re-elected from the pro-establishment camp.

However, given the sheer number of the outgoing DC members and the limited time for such an event next Saturday, the chief executive decided to invite representatives of certain pro-establishment parties beforehand for some small talk, hence her gatherings with members of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) and the New People’s Party (NPP) on Wednesday.

But the DAB appears to have given Lam the cold shoulder. While its chairwoman Starry Lee Wai-king accepted the invitation to the small gathering, a lot of the party’s community heavyweights declined to show up, citing their busy schedule.

As for the NPP, whose entire army of candidates was annihilated in the recent DC race, its chairwoman Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee attended the gathering at the Government House in the company of six incumbent DC members from her party as well as some community organizers who lost in the elections.

Also present at the get-together were Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, Secretary for Home Affairs Lau Kong-wah, and Director of the Chief Executive's Office Eric Chan Kwok-ki.

According to sources, since the figures who are most displeased with the government didn’t turn up, the chief executive’s sessions with the DAB and NPP on Wednesday weren’t exactly “highly charged”.

It is said that during the meeting with NPP members, the chief executive personally apologized to them, saying that they were defeated not because there were problems with their community service but because the election was highly politicized.

But despite Lam's contrite demeanor, some NPP attendees could not help but voice out their grievances, saying that the government’s sudden U-turn on the extradition bill had thrown the pro-establishment camp completely off guard, and eventually ruined the NPP's election prospects.

It is also said that during the informal meeting, some attendees suggested to the chief executive that the government should consider imposing a pre-election break, either a week or a couple of days before polling day, to allow both voters and candidates some time for quiet reflection.

Nonetheless, during her get-togethers with both the DAB and the NPP, Lam didn’t mention anything about appointing their also-rans to other public offices, nor did she talk about how the government is going to help the pro-establishment camp continue with its community service in the days ahead.

Earlier on, there was chatter in political circles that some defeated DC incumbents of the DAB stand a good chance of landing new jobs with other “friendly” organizations or institutions.

Regardless, it is understood that DAB members aren’t keen on the idea, not least because such job openings are probably scarce and the salary packages for such positions are most likely unattractive.

As such, most DAB also-rans would rather try their own luck in the job market.

Meanwhile, another source has told us that Ip is currently busy raising money to sustain her party's community service activities and hire some of her party’s DC election runners-up as researchers in the other organization she founded the Savantas Policy Institute.

As regards the Civil Force, a pro-establishment party that formed a political alliance with the NPP in 2014, some of its members who recently lost their DC seats have become so disheartened.

And it wouldn’t be long before we will find out whether the NPP is able to retain them.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Dec 12

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Columnist of Hong Kong Economic Journal.