‘I’ll Scream and Scream Until I’m Sick’

(Violet Elizabeth Bott from ‘Just William’)

The best that can be said of the opening session of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council (Legco) on 11 October was that nobody threw a water glass across the chamber. That apart, it was a dismally disappointing occasion. Here’s why:

First, the mess made of oath-taking by the young localists was hypocritical, and reminiscent of the worst excesses of the late and unlamented Raymond Wong Yuk-man. Having affirmed allegiance to the Basic Law in their declarations prior to standing for a Legco seat, it was pure grandstanding to refuse to do so in the proper way in Legco.

Second, their performance diverted attention from what may have been a legitimate objection to the election of Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen as Legco’s president.

Third, their debut suggested a repeat of the long-running and sterile tactics of the pan-democrats in the previous Legco, marked by filibustering, demonstrations and ejections from the chamber.

Fourth, if their objective, and that of the pan-democrats, is to ensure that C Y does not serve a second term of office as Chief Executive of the HKSAR, their strategy, if such it may be described, is flawed because:

  1. Legco had already closed the best, and only, democratic option when in the previous session they rejected the bill to amend the rules for the conduct of the 2017 CE election, thereby denying the electorate a voice in the process. This limits the ability of the pan-democrats to sway or even to cite public opinion in support of their campaign.
  2. As noted in a previous post, the instinctive reaction of Beijing to opposition is repression. The antics on display on 11 October are unlikely to encourage them to move in the preferred direction of the pan-democrats and the localists. Persuasive argument and lobbying are more likely to be productive.

Fifth, who becomes the next CE of the HKSAR is indeed critical to Hong Kong’s future, but it is not the only issue of importance. Beyond campaigning for Anyone But CY, what policies are the anti-establishment Legco members promoting for the welfare of Hong Kong people? And are they giving any thought at all to Plan B? What will they do, what will their strategy be, if CY does serve a second term? More of the same antics are unlikely to win either public support or Beijing concessions.

Following Legco’s opening session, one can only hope that over time members adopt a more mature and parliamentary approach to their work. They must recognize that good government is not a series of demonstrations, carefully staged ‘protests’ and posturing. If they fail to do so they will be judged no more rational than children who threaten ‘to scream and scream until I’m sick’. The people who elected them deserve better than that.

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