Below is a segment from ATV’s Newsline with Legco president Jasper Tsang. See if you can spot the attempt to create a rift between the “moderate” and “radical” democrats:
TSANG: [On whether Beijing’s veto power over the chief executive election is exercisable] Again, I must say this is a very big hypothetical question. It depends. Now, if we have someone really very popular standing on an election platform which, I mean, no one can believe to be really, you know, hostile to the central government, confrontational to the central government, and all Hong Kong people believe that despite the so-called pan-democratic background of this candidate he or she is going to do a good job, do a great job, cooperating with the central government and making Hong Kong and stable, and we elect him or her and then the central government says “no”, now, of course there will be riots.
CHUGANI: You think there will be riots?
TSANG: But, I don’t see why in that case the central government should veto that. Now, on the other hand, if some guy stands in an election on a very anti-Beijing, anti-central government platform–and I say look–say all the things that the central government doesn’t want to hear, let’s say, and he or she is still elected, what does that mean?
CHUGANI: You tell me.
TSANG: It means that Hong Kong people are–what do you call this–thumbing their nose at Beijing.
CHUGANI: Thumbing their nose at Beijing, right.
TSANG: Hong Kong people are saying: look, we know you hate this guy, but, we want him. What does that mean? That means Hong Kong people are all in some sort of confrontational situation.
CHUGANI: Should Beijing then veto that person?
Tsang’s implication that Beijing may consider approving a pan-democratic candidate as long as he or she did not belong to the “radical” faction of that camp is reminiscent of their “divide and conquer” strategies in the 2010 electoral reform package debate, in which the Democratic Party broke ranks with the other pan-democrats to secure what can only be seen as merely a token concession from Beijing, namely the 5 District Council (II) “super-seats”.
Already, such a rift has appeared in the current round of negotiations. The Alliance For True Democracy has released a plan in which two percent of registered electors may directly nominate a candidate for the chief executive election. The Democratic Party, in particular Albert Ho, has recently been criticized for effectively giving up on direct nominations (The Standard):
Democratic Party lawmaker Albert Ho Chun-yan has been criticized for playing down a pan-democratic proposal for voters to be allowed to directly nominate candidates in the 2017 chief executive election.
[…]”Giving ordinary voters the right to directly nominate candidates is in line with the main spirit of universal suffrage. If they have no such right, what is the meaning of suffrage,” [Neighbourhood and Workers Service Centre Legislator Leung Yiu-Chung] said. “We can’t just make compromises solely for the purpose of enabling the pro-democracy camp to field a candidate.”
In addition to the above, Tsang also said in his interview:
What’s going to happen if Hong Kong people elect the chief executive by universal suffrage in 2017, is every problem going to go away? Do we automatically have good governance in Hong Kong?
To quote a little brown man in a loincloth, “Of course there will be problems. But they will be our problems, not yours.”