Sinking Fast

Can anyone save the pan democrats from the consequences of their own folly? I’m beginning to wonder.

For reasons only they will know, they seem determined to shovel political credibility out of the window with the speed of proverbial one-armed wallpaper hangers.

Their die-hard supporters may be prepared to cling on steadfastly, but many neutrals will be turning away from this spectacle in dismay.

Government business – which is also the public’s business – has come to a virtual halt because of the filibuster over the proposal to establish a new bureau to promote innovation and technology.

Bearing in mind that Albert Ho, the Democratic Party member who made it onto the ballot paper in the last chief executive election in 2012, had included an almost identical proposal in his own manifesto, it is disingenuous of the party to now stand by with arms folded while their more radical colleagues block passage.

Just because chief executive Leung Chun Ying is in favour of a particular proposal is not, by itself, sufficient reason to kill it.

Do the pan dems think political reform is important? I understand and agree. Do they consider the 31 August framework laid down by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress to be too restrictive? I understand and agree.

Do they feel that gives them a licence to stop everything in other areas until they get their own way in this one? I don’t understand and I don’t agree. On the contrary, I think they are being silly.

Political reform is important but it is not the only issue the community cares about. At least two other matters – housing and poverty alleviation – deserve equal top billing. There are many others worthy of attention. We elected the Members of the Legislative Council to pay attention to all the issues.

Whenever the government comes forward with a proposal, we expect everyone to scrutinise it thoroughly. We expect Members to ask penetrating questions. If they are not satisfied with the responses, by all means they should put forward contrary views and express reservations. Then there is a vote, a decision one way or the other, and we all move on.

The de facto paralysis we are experiencing now is simply unacceptable. Hong Kong has a lot of urgent business that needs to get done. We do not have the time to sit around pontificating while the high priests of democracy debate how many angels can dance on the head of a CY pin.

The most recent contretemps comes after the declaration by the same people that they will veto the government’s next political reform package – even though we have yet to see it. This is crazy.

What we need to do when dealing with either the central or SAR governments is pocket what’s on offer, then ask for more. It worked in 2010 and significantly improved the arrangements for 2012. Why abandon a tactic we know that works?

The next disaster is already visible on the horizon. Once the government’s election reform proposals fail to receive the necessary two thirds majority – assuming the pan dems stick to their guns -- the self same Albert threatens to resign from LegCo to create a "de facto referendum" on political reform. Really? We tried that tactic before, we know it doesn’t work, so we’re going to do it again?

It is long past time everyone concerned began to deal with the issues in a more mature way. Every subject coming before the legislature and its sub committees must be examined on its own merits and resolved. The livelihood of Hong Kong people cannot be held hostage to the wishful thinking of a self-proclaimed majority on a single issue.

Unless they start to behave in a responsible way, the pan democrats are going to pay a stiff price in the district council elections later this year, and the LegCo elections in 2016. Exactly how is that going to improve the system for the CE election in 2017? The long suffering citizens of our city – especially those who are democratic by instinct – deserve an answer.