Why James Tien won't find it easy to realize plans of new party

January 22, 2020 14:35
James Tien is said to be sounding out various public figures who share his moderate political beliefs to come on board a potential new party platform. Photo: HKEJ

Over the years, James Tien Pei-chun, former lawmaker and one of the incumbent honorary chairpersons of the Liberal Party, has often been categorized as an “atypical type” of political personality in the pro-establishment camp.

According to his own description, he belongs to the so-called "open-minded pro-establishment bloc".

Tien's recent “atypical” remarks are that he echoed the slogan of “Liberate Hong Kong” chanted by anti-extradition bill protesters.

However, his interpretation of “liberating” Hong Kong may be different from that of the protesters: all he attempts is to do is to restore the high degree of autonomy which Hong Kong used to enjoy back in 1997.

As to how he is going to achieve that, Tien told reporters during a recent media interview that he wouldn’t rule out the possibility of forming another political party to run for Legco in the September election.

Tien said if his new party is able to snap up a few seats in Legco, he hopes it can fulfill the role as the “decisive minority” in the legislature and, hopefully, can make a difference.

As for the potential members of Tien's envisaged political party, he told the media that former Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah, as well as the other two honorary chairpersons of the Liberal Party, i.e. Miriam Lau Kin-yee and Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee, are likely to be on his list.

Apart from that, he is also working aggressively to recruit prominent and cross-generational figures in the various social sectors who share his political ideals.

We aren’t sure at this point as to whether Tien is truly serious about his plan of forming a new political party.

However, from an objective viewpoint, we believe that even if Tien is determined to embark on the initiative, it will definitely be an immensely daunting and difficult task, not to mention the odds of winning a few seats in the upcoming Legco race.

It is because time is not on Tien’s side: the Legco election is only a lttle more than half a year away, and this raises serious question as to whether Tien can recruit the right persons, formulate his party constitution and organize his election campaign within such a short period of time.

Apart from the fact that time is running out, there is another even bigger question mark hanging over Tien’s ambitious plan: can his new political party, which would position itself as an “open-minded pro-establishment” group, appeal to voters at a time when the society is deeply divided and public opinion is turning overwhelmingly against the pro-establishment camp?

After all, despite being “open-minded”, Tien’s new party will still be seen as a pro-establishment group, which means voters might not find it particularly attractive. 

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Jan 20

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Hong Kong Economic Journal