Message is clear for opposition
Updated: 2018-03-13 07:35
The Legislative Council by-election on Sunday, held to refill four of the six seats vacated after legislators-elect were disqualified for improper oath-taking, has turned out to be a great embarrassment for the opposition camp. For the first time in the history of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, a pro-establishment candidate won in a single-seat geographical constituency by-election - Vincent Cheng Wing-shun of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong emerged as victor in the Kowloon West constituency.
The embarrassment did not come only from the pro-establishment candidate's victory in Kowloon West disproving the myth that by-elections are always in the opposition's favor. More importantly, it came from the opposition's bid to present the disqualification issue as the major theme of this by-election while, ironically, the key opponent Cheng defeated in his constituency was none other than Edward Yiu Chung-yim, the only candidate from among the six disqualified opposition legislators-elect.
The particularly low turnout - 43 percent - showed most voters gave a cold shoulder to the opposition's wishful thinking of turning the by-election into some kind of "referendum" on the disqualification issue; even their own supporters were not interested by this theme as only about 60 percent of them came to the ballot box.
In Sunday's by-election the opposition has only been able to win half of the four seats contested - in three geographical constituencies and one functional constituency.
The opposition's failure to win back the crucial power of veto among those returned in the geographical constituencies under LegCo's separate voting system showed voters were generally satisfied with the new style of governance displayed by Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and her administration. And voters were not deceived by the opposition's strident attempts to demonize all issues with a mainland connection, such as the ongoing legislation process of the co-location arrangement of boundary control facilities for the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link.
The election outcome this time is yet another manifestation of the continuous erosion of the so-called golden principle of 60-40 voting pattern (in favor of the opposition) due to voters' gradual realization that the cause the opposition upholds, impressive as it may seem on the surface, is not the way forward for Hong Kong.
To gain the confidence of Hong Kong people as well as the central government, the opposition must acknowledge the SAR's true constitutional role under "one country, two systems", abide by the Constitution and Basic Law, and work for Hong Kong's long-term prosperity and stability. Only then will they reverse their current decline and become a constructive opposition.
For those who have just been elected, as well as those already serving in the legislative chamber, the message is clear. What the more than 900,000 registered voters who cast their ballots on Sunday want them to do is what they are supposed to do - pass laws and appropriate funds necessary for Hong Kong to progress. No more filibustering. No more sidetracking. Whoever fails to do this will pay for it at the ballot box next time.
(HK Edition 03/13/2018 page8)