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Wednesday, March 03, 2021, 23:36
'Pan-democrats' should remain loyal
By Lau Lan-cheong
Wednesday, March 03, 2021, 23:36 By Lau Lan-cheong

Xia Baolong, head of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, reiterated in his keynote speech at a recent symposium on Hong Kong affairs that “patriots governing Hong Kong” is the fundamental principle that ensures the steady and sustained implementation of “one country, two systems”. He stressed that “patriots governing Hong Kong” does not mean “all as one”. That statement is in fact telling the opposition camp there is room for their existence and transformation moving forward, but only by becoming the “loyal opposition”. Those who intend to swear allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) of the People’s Republic of China but don’t mean it had better not try that, because cheating like this will be exposed and punished according to relevant laws in due time. Hong Kong society will make sure the political systems, especially the electoral system, will be repaired through reform to weed out all the pretenders.

There have been endless disputes over the subject of “loyal opposition” since the opposition camp came into existence in Hong Kong. Fact is, the opposition camp has always had a space to live in, but only a small number of its members understand that it is for the “loyal opposition” instead of everyone, and those who have embraced “Hong Kong independence” advocacy and joined the “mutual destruction gang” are doomed to fail, along with all the anti-China, anti-communist forces and their proxies in Hong Kong.

As the biggest employer in Hong Kong, the SAR government should take the lead in implementing a “living wage” for its permanent employees, contract staff and outsourced workers. This will, for sure, set an example for the private sector to follow

Many members of opposition parties have broken out of their ideological cocoons over the years, but only a few prominent figures caught public attention. For example, Ronny Tong Ka-wah, a founding member of the Civic Party, who quit over differences of political standing, and Law Chi-Kwong, who was a vice-chairman of the Democratic Party when he left, are now serving in the SAR government. On the other hand, however, many members from the Democratic Party and Civic Party and other “pan-democrats” have abandoned their original pursuit of “reunification under democracy” and the “peaceful, rational and non-violent” principle. They have become followers of Jimmy Lai Chee-ying in doing the bidding of anti-China external forces by messing up Hong Kong. Some of them even colluded with separatists and got convicted of criminal offenses against national security. Many leaders of the opposition have either fled Hong Kong or withdrawn from secessionist political parties, and their camp is on the verge of dissolution.

When Deng Xiaoping designed the innovative “one country, two systems” arrangement for post-1997 Hong Kong, he also anchored it with “patriots governing Hong Kong” as a fundamental principle, as well as zero tolerance for attempts to turn the city into a base camp for subversion of the sovereign state. However, most of the opposition leaders grossly miscalculated the situation and believed the US-led Western anti-communist forces would soon “crush communist China”. Some of them even resorted to violence, criminal vandalism and arson in the name of “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times”. Without question, those criminals will all be brought to justice and forever banned from a political career in Hong Kong.

Let’s not forget the original intent of “reunification under democracy” was based on anti-colonialism and in support of China resuming its sovereign rule over Hong Kong. Back then, none of the “pan-democrats” had a criminal record and would have had a place of their own in politics had they been committed to serving the well-being of Hong Kong residents and contributing to the policymaking process, with an eye on how well the SAR government does its job. Xia said the term “patriot” has been and will always be widely applicable. Hong Kong is a diverse community in terms of ethnic culture, customs and religions. Some local residents have been immersed in capitalist values with little if any objective knowledge about the motherland for so long that they easily accepted unjustifiable bias and even prejudice against the socialist main body of the country. The central authorities have been generally understanding and tolerant toward them over the years. This understanding and tolerant attitude does not mean the central government is flexible with principles but rather in favor of pragmatism and a big heart.

Experiences and lessons in the past 23 years or so taught us that existing loopholes in Hong Kong’s current political system, including its electoral system, are being exploited by separatists and radicals who do not recognize the Constitution of the PRC and the Basic Law of the HKSAR. Those who collaborate with anti-China forces were able to infiltrate Hong Kong’s political establishment, especially the Chief Executive Election Committee, Legislative Council and District Councils. The central authorities and the SAR government are now determined to plug those loopholes with measures, such as requiring a liability breakdown of each district councilor-elect’s track record regarding the Constitution and the Basic Law upon swear-in. I wish to emphasize there must be enforceable penalties on violators, such as removal from their posts; otherwise, scenarios in which members of the Legislative Council pushed a “mutual destruction” agenda would happen again. As for those who have become part of the governance structure, there should be a system to ensure timely dismissal of public officers whose behavior is inconsistent with their oath.

The author is president of Hong Kong think tank the Golden Mean Institute.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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