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Inconvenient truth from the darling of Hong Kong democracy

Oops, now what? How does it feel when the ground is knocked from under your feet? That happened over and over again to the opposition in the past few days. Who dared do such a dastardly deed? Why, it was that sinner for a thousand years, Hong Kong’s last colonial governor, Chris Patten. In every speech during his short visit, he slammed independence advocates as delusional idiots undermining the just cause of democracy.

Democracy is indeed a just cause when fought by those who understand what it is and how to fight for it in a noble way. Patten punched only independence advocates, not the opposition as a whole. But if the opposition is true to itself, it should feel morally obliged to feel the pain of being knocked off one’s feet. It was, after all, their democracy hero throwing the punches. Patten had the guts to speak the inconvenient truth that the opposition dared not.

None in the opposition camp dared say as bluntly as Patten that independence advocates have tarnished the democracy movement. Instead, they hid behind the excuse that Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang were duly elected. Being duly elected includes taking an oath. As Patten said, oath-taking is not something of a lark. But when the Youngspiration pair treated it as a lark the opposition condemned Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying instead for seeking to legally unseat them. Some in the opposition even formed a human chain to help the pair gatecrash the Legislative Council.

I have great respect for Patten although I don’t agree with his every word. Unlike our self-acclaimed champions of democracy, he understands democracy’s limitations in Hong Kong. The opposition draws a difference between self-determination and independence, insisting that democracy equals self-determination but not independence. Patten gave that short shrift by making clear self-determination equals independence and drawing a difference is simply a play on words.

Democracy is a just cause when fought on moral high ground. There is no moral high ground in hurling missiles at government officials, mocking Leung as 689, and even refusing to observe the custom of standing up when the Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen enters the chamber.

Patten called for dialogue. How can there be dialogue when the opposition boycotts even a Legco reception with the chief executive, as it did on Tuesday? No wonder Beijing has become tone deaf to the opposition’s voice.