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劉廼強 | 4th Sep 2009 | SCMP | (32 Reads)

In the 1950s, during the height of McCarthyism, there was a witch-hunt in the United States for hidden commies. A similar witch-hunt is now taking place in Hong Kong, and Leung Chun-ying, the Executive Council convenor rumoured to be a candidate for the next chief executive election, is the top target.

Despite his repeated denials, some people, notably the Liberal Party founding member Allen Lee Peng-fei, still insist that Leung is a secret member of the Chinese Communist Party.

It seems that unless Leung were to go to court, there is no way for him to counter this allegation once and for all.

For a public figure, and given the current political atmosphere, this is not an easy decision to make, and it is unlikely to  happen.

Let's put it this way: another possible candidate for the chief executive seat is  Henry Tang Ying-yen, the current chief  secretary. He used to be a member of the Liberal Party, but resigned before joining the government.

It could always be claimed that, deep in his heart, Tang is still a member of the Liberal Party. Again, this accusation cannot be proved or disproved.

This goes to show that such witch-hunts are irrational, and meaningless. It also shows that some people do not want a communist to be Hong Kong's next chief executive.

It is just a sentiment - a fear that may not be based on anything concrete. It is also an emotional distrust of the pledge of the central government and the stipulations in the Basic Law. Admittedly this is a prejudice, but it is there.

If some people harbour such deep prejudice and distrust against any and all communists, and they are not merely vocal, but vocally fighting for universal suffrage in 2012, how would you expect our central leadership, all of whom are communists, to react?

If these people so distrust and hate the communists, why should they also trust the witch-hunters?

Such an exercise is highly divisive within Hong Kong, as it could greatly erode the social rapport and implicit covenant with the community.

If there were to be a deadlock in our constitutional development, whose fault would it be? Clearly, fault would lie with the dissident witch-hunters. What if Leung were a communist and Tang a Liberal, and they would not admit it? Would this make them better candidates, or worse?

Let's stay focused and choose a good candidate for our next chief executive in 2012, based on a rational deliberation of the facts, not emotional biases.

In any case, we have not even started discussing the election method for the 2012 chief executive election.

We still do not know the rules of the game, and it is therefore highly immature to speculate, never mind start a witch-hunt.

It may be fun watching the witch-hunt spectacle, but most of us do not have such strong emotions against communists and the central government.

We are basically just enthusiastic, innocent bystanders, but there is a high risk that we may suffer collateral damage in the crossfire, which could weaken our social fabric.

In the interests of self-protection and preservation, it is incumbent upon us all to call a halt to this nonsense.

For our own sake, this pantomime just cannot continue.

In the 1950s, American citizens had the courage to put an end to the Red Scare witch-hunts.

I just wonder whether the residents of Hong Kong now have the fortitude to do the same thing, before some irreversible damage is done.