Another day, another distressingly feeble attempt to push public opinion in favour of Hong Kong’s proposed political reform package. Executive Council member Fanny Law names two pro-democracy legislators as individuals who could possibly be allowed on the ballot. The Civic Party’s Ronnie Tong and Dennis Kwok, she suggests, count as ‘good doggies’, who deserve a pat on the head. The contrast is with the ‘bad doggies’ (they know who they are), who openly deny the Chinese Communist Party’s legitimacy and therefore fail what is basically a latter-day religious test. (Though possibly one less restrictive than that of US Republican Party nomination race, where rejection of astrophysics and biology is required.)
The government is hoping that at some point popular approval for the package could be high enough to shame at least some pro-dems into voting for it. No-one knows what level of support that would be. However, opinion polls so far show the public to be seriously unimpressed, with less than 50% supporting the proposal. This miserable result confirms the obvious fact that Beijing’s heavy-handed tactics last year – berating Hong Kong and imposing a reform proposal with a superfluously rigged voting structure – backfired. It’s a bit late now, not to say unconvincing, to be trying to get chummy with supposedly ‘moderate’ pan-dems. Ronnie calls it an insult.
The South China Morning Post does a full-page thing on pan-dem ‘moderates’. It finds that they show no signs of wavering and voting for the package; in other words, they are just the same as all the pan-dems in the legislature who are not called ‘moderates’.
These three lawmakers are independents and represent functional constituencies. Charles Mok of IT points out that people with higher educational attainment (his coder nerd voters) are more likely than the average population to oppose the reform deal. Ouch. Kenneth Leung’s Accountancy franchise includes some patriots and dullards as well as dems, and officials are trying to rustle up an internal bean-counters’ poll to pressure him into abandoning his original pro-dem stance – but he seems defiant. Joseph Lee of Health Services could also only support the package by breaking earlier promises made to his constituency of (broadly dem-leaning) nurses and hospital pharmacists and technicians.
These are the lawmakers the government sees as its best hopes.
Officials are no doubt planning a brain-storming session. The subject: How can we get the public opinion polls to show at least 60% in favour of the reform package? Basic rules: no open-top buses, no grinning cartoon characters, and no talking to ‘moderates’ as if they are toddlers being asked to eat greens. Secondary rules: no relying on fake signature campaigns or putrid TV ad campaigns. Oh, and fundamental basic rules: no concessions on blatant rigging of nomination of candidates, and no going back on the Hong Kong Must Be Bludgeoned Into Submission ethos of our masters. Good luck.