Chow Pak-chin argues that opposition camp are now in a much weaker position after destroying their credibility
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 Wai-ching, Edward Yiu Chung-yim, Nathan Law Kwun-chung, Leung Kwok-hung and Lau Siu-lai did so 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 self-victimization. They did this with theatrical histrionics, regardless of facts, and without any respect for the rule of law. These anti-establishment lawmakers underestimated 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.
The author is vice-chairman of Wisdom Hong Kong, a local think tank.