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劉廼強 | 11th Dec 2009 | SCMP | (40 Reads)

After the Civic Party's annual general meeting last Saturday, it is easy to foresee the outcome of the consultation process on constitutional development.

Since its members voted to back the resignation plan for lawmakers, the party now has a formal mandate to join hands with the League of Social Democrats. This mass resignation plan, which could become reality as early as next month, would see one pro-democracy lawmaker resign from each of the five geographical constituencies, triggering by-elections that would serve as a de facto referendum on universal suffrage. The lawmakers hope to be re-elected and re-enter the legislature for the vote on the reform package next July. This plan will happen, irrespective of whether the Democratic Party rejects the idea.

But such a development does not mean a complete split in the dissident camp, because none of them can afford that. As dissidents, they will still come together to veto the reform proposal next July, just as they did in 2005. At present, there are 23 pro-democracy lawmakers, and Legislative Council president Tsang Yok-sing has said he will never cast his vote. Should four of the five lawmakers who resign fail to get re-elected, the dissidents could still block the passage of the reform bill. So, it's possible to forecast that, come July, the constitutional reform proposal will most probably be rejected.

This almost-certain outcome, so early in the consultation process, is demoralising to say the least. With the dissidents leaving no room for manoeuvre, what is the point of the consultation? There is no discussion, no negotiation; dissidents are simply dictating the terms and we citizens and the Hong Kong government will have to accept them, or else. If this is their brand of democracy, it is the joke of the century.

We elect politicians to be our representatives in the legislature, and they should resign only when they are incapable of doing their job - such as when they are sick, sentenced to a jail term or proved to be morally inept. It is wrong for them to quit because of a political agenda; this is a serious betrayal of their constituents' trust. Such quitters are cowards. Several members of the Democratic Party have asked the right question: if we believe in parliamentary democracy, shouldn't we remain in the system to fight for our cause?

We should also be warned that the only alternative to parliamentary struggle is violence and chaos. Are we ready for this alternative - and the consequences?

The good news is that the mass resignation ploy is really a publicity stunt, and the dissidents are not at all serious about going on to the streets or taking up arms.

The bad news is that we will all have to foot the HK$150 million bill for their by-election show.

This is the price we will have to pay for voting these politicians into our parliamentary system.

It's time the citizens of Hong Kong learned this very expensive lesson, and kicked the dissidents out at the next available opportunity.