Golden op­por­tu­nity to bring dis­or­der in LegCo to an end

Chow Pak-chin ar­gues that op­po­si­tion camp are now in a much weaker po­si­tion af­ter de­stroy­ing their cred­i­bil­ity

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT -

As an avid squash player, I take ev­ery game se­ri­ously. It doesn’t mat­ter if I’m lead­ing by 13-3, I pur­sue vic­tory un­til I’ve suc­cess­fully bagged the game-end­ing points. There is no room for com­pla­cency; why would you want to al­low your op­po­nent even the small­est chance to over­take you?

This men­tal­ity, in my opin­ion, ap­plies as much to pol­i­tics as sport. Re­cently, the anti-es­tab­lish­ment camp’s protest against the co-lo­ca­tion ar­range­ment for the Express Rail Link’s West Kowloon ter­mi­nus had a very small at­ten­dance; a mea­ger 50 or 60 peo­ple turned up at the first protest. Strangely un­daunted, the likes of Fer­nando Che­ung Chiu-hung, Claudia Mo Man-ching, Gary Fan Kwok-wai, as well as dis­qual­i­fied law­mak­ers Le­ung Kwok-hung and Lau Siu-lai, de­cided to stage the protest again on Satur­day dur­ing the same week. If the fear-mon­ger­ing or­ga­niz­ers of the protest har­bored even the slight­est hopes of gar­ner­ing more sup­port on a Satur­day, these were shat­tered; only about 10 peo­ple came. The de­ba­cle was there for ev­ery­one in Hong Kong to see. If this isn’t a clear in­di­ca­tion of de­clin­ing pub­lic sup­port for the anti-es­tab­lish­ment camp, I don’t know what is.

Heart­break­ing for the op­po­si­tion it may be, but the pub­lic’s loss of faith in the anti-es­tab­lish­ment camp is some­thing law­mak­ers should have seen com­ing; they lit­er­ally asked for it, with the gaffes and folly they continued to ex­hibit. Cit­i­zens who voted for Le­ung Chung-hang, Yau Waich­ing, Ed­ward Yiu Chung-yim, Nathan Law Kwun-chung, Le­ung Kwok-hung and Lau Siu-lai did so The au­thor is vice-chair­man of Wis­dom Hong Kong, a lo­cal think tank. out of their faith in the law­mak­ers’ prom­ises to change the po­lit­i­cal land­scape. What these vot­ers did not ex­pect was law­mak­ers greatly dis­re­spect­ing the solem­nity of the oath-tak­ing cer­e­mony. They, there­fore, sin­gle-hand­edly took away their own chance of par­tic­i­pat­ing in fu­ture leg­isla­tive, so­cial and po­lit­i­cal re­forms. Yet in­stead of suf­fer­ing the con­se­quences of this shock­ing lack of deco­rum, these law­mak­ers, upon be­ing dis­qual­i­fied, turned to self­vic­tim­iza­tion. They did this with the­atri­cal histri­on­ics, re­gard­less of facts, and with­out any re­spect for the rule of law. These anti­estab­lish­ment law­mak­ers un­der- es­ti­mated the com­mon sense of the pub­lic; or­di­nary peo­ple have now made their feel­ings clear. With pub­lic sup­port for them fall­ing fast, the anti-es­tab­lish­ment camp has been shaken to the core. This has seen their morale plum­met.

As in many sports, the time when your op­po­nent is feel­ing ap­pre­hen­sive and rat­tled is the time when you can strike. For pro-es­tab­lish­ment law­mak­ers, this is the right time to do things which pre­vi­ously faced con­sid­er­able op­po­si­tion and ob­sta­cles. These in­clude pro­pos­als to amend the Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil’s rules of pro­ce­dures. This would free fu­ture LegCo meet­ings from dis­re­spect­ful be­hav­ior such as fil­i­bus­ter­ing, un­nec­es­sar­ily call­ing the quo­rum bell and mak­ing ad­journ­ment mo­tions. In 2013-14 and 2014-15 alone, HK$45.6 mil­lion of tax­pay­ers’ money has been wasted on the anti-es­tab­lish­ment law­mak­ers’ “non-co­op­er­a­tion cam­paign”. This in­cludes 49.7 hours on the re­quest of quo­rum calls in 2013-14 and 56 hours in 2014-15. In­ci­den­tally, 96 hours were spent on the con­tentious Copy­right (Amend­ment) Bill 2014; some 38 hours were wasted on quo­rum calls alone. It is time LegCo meet­ings were lib­er­ated from in­di­vid­u­als who de­lay and op­pose for the sake of it — in­di­vid­u­als who claim to rep­re­sent the peo­ple but are re­ally just pour­ing tax­pay­ers’ money down the drain. Only then can or­der be re­stored in LegCo; then is­sues con­cern­ing Hong Kong peo­ple’s liveli­hoods and wel­fare can be dealt with. Poli­cies and leg­is­la­tion can be passed and en­acted to cre­ate a bet­ter Hong Kong for ev­ery­one. For this to hap­pen, the pro-es­tab­lish­ment camp will have to make the right ad­vances at the right time. This time is now.

Heart­break­ing for the op­po­si­tion it may be, but the pub­lic’s loss of faith in the anti-es­tab­lish­ment camp is some­thing law­mak­ers should have seen com­ing; they lit­er­ally asked for it, with the gaffes and folly they continued to ex­hibit.

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