香港新浪網 MySinaBlog
« 上一篇 | 下一篇 »
劉廼強 | 26th Jun 2010 | SCMP | (9 Reads)

The expatriate community in Hong Kong has, on the whole, welcomed the constitutional reform package and is happy to see it passed in the Legislative Council.

This group of residents was largely brought up in a democratic environment and they are all for the early implementation of universal suffrage. But, at the same time, they make their living here and certainly don't want any trouble. Moving smoothly forward under a compromise deal is therefore the best outcome.

However, the outcome did come as a surprise as nearly everybody had given up hope and was expecting a deadlock.

Looking back now, this was just the natural course of serious negotiations. In all such talks, both sides want to gain the most, and therefore drive a hard bargain. The sweet spot is reached when neither side can yield any further, negotiations are about to break down, and one last attempt to reach an agreement dramatically produces a win-win solution.

This is exactly what happened in the haggling between the Democratic Party and the central government. The official package announced on April 14 was the first offer. The textbook response from the Democrats was to flatly reject it, calling it a backward move.

It then returned with a three-point counterproposal and announced it to the public. After the Democratic Party and the central government's liaison office finally met on May 24, and it became clear that the democrats' counter-offer would be rejected, the negotiations broke off, and both sides announced that a compromise solution was unlikely.

Middlemen then came onto the stage to explain to the central government that the Democratic Party could not concede any further and that this was indeed its final offer. The central government ultimately struck the deal when it received confirmation that the Democrats had agreed to cast their votes in favour of the modified package.

This proved to be the best deal that either side could ever get under the current situation, short of an outright violent confrontation. Both sides came out as winners, and most people in Hong Kong are happy to see the democratic process moving forward and large-scale confrontations averted. The Democratic Party admitted that it is now learning to drop its all-or-nothing attitude. This is, in fact, the very spirit of parliamentary democracy that is lacking in some other factions of the pan-democratic camp.

Even for the Democratic Party, it seems that its members' behaviour is more about self-preservation than the result of a paradigm shift. Without a deeper clarification of their ideology and firm justification for their apparent about-turn, it will be very easy for them to revert to the dissident behaviour to which they were so accustomed.

Now that the Democratic Party is in the limelight, and enjoying the glory of a successful vote, other dissident factions that feel left out may dig in further - and the only position they can take to differentiate themselves from the moderate hero is to be more radical.

Such an idea seems rational and beneficial to their self-interest but, in the longer run, it may prove fatal to their survival. Even in the immediate future, radicalism appeals only to a very few; by taking a more radical stand, these pan-democrats will unwittingly place themselves on the margins from which they may never be able to escape.

In fact, the coup of getting a deal has so drastically changed the existing political system that even the pro-establishment camp is now a shambles. Some felt betrayed - or at least neglected - by the central government; all have to fight for their survival in the upcoming elections in 2011 and 2012.

For one thing, being able to communicate with the central government is no longer the monopoly of the pro-establishment camp; the Democratic Party is also learning how to extract concessions from Beijing. Pro-establishment politicians who need to win over voters now face a more tricky challenge.

Watching members of the Democratic Party being showered with all manner of praise and benefits - a seat in the Executive Council seems inescapable and, perhaps, soon, more district council and Legislative Council seats, too - the loyalists will have a hard time adjusting to a new political landscape.

Therefore, all's well - but it may not end well. The battle line is already drawn on the details of the election methods of the five newly created district council functional constituency seats. Another round of haggling now begins.