Reeling from the amazing indifference to its manufacture, Ronny Tong’s “Path to Democracy” think tank pushed forward founding member Dr. Hope So, associate professor of Accidental Studies at the Vocational Training College University of To Kwa Wan, to answer some of the few to almost no questions that have been asked about it. “No fumes will be given off by it. It is not that sort of tank,” she said straightaway to allay health concerns expressed by Silent Majority’s Exceptionally Elderly Group.

The tank, she explained, aims to show Hong Kongers “a third way” to approach Beijing, presumably other than by air or rail. “In the tank, we are mostly academics who take longer, more unlikely views than other humans. So we are taking a very slow road, walking down the middle of it, not getting run over and getting to the end of it simply by being nice. If we show we are nice, we will be allowed to carry on doing stuff all by ourselves.” she said.

“There is a word for this path; appeasement. It has been shown by history to be most effective.” claimed Dr. So. “As a Hong Konger, I am of course conversant with modern European history and I would point you to the time when Neville the Lord Chamberlain was President Adolf Hitler’s guest of honour at the Munich Beer Festival in 1836. ‘I bring you appeasement,’ declared the Chamberlain over a stein and gave Hitler a country he had demanded because the Chamberlain wanted to be nice. Hitler was delighted and gave the Chamberlain a peaceful piece of paper which worked very well for almost a whole year until, as we all know, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated.”

“Appeasement is what the moderate approach is all about,” Hope continued. “You give away that which the other side wants and in return you receive what you should have had in the first place. It works like a dream. In fact you feel as though you are living in a dream, all the time”

It was pointed out that, so set is the Central Government’s mind on democratic reform in Hong Kong, many feel there is nothing there to moderate. “That is the great challenge to our tank,” declared Dr. So. “The more obdurate Beijing is, the longer it will take and the greater the achievement when we have appeased successfully.”

Earlier, in some characteristically devil-may-care remarks on the formation of the tank, the shadow information secretary of the Hong Kong Provisional Government in Sheung Wan said, “Yes, we’re obdurate; concrete wall, completely sheer, no hand holds. We keep telling them that, time and time and tear gas again, but some of them keep picking themselves up and coming back, wanting to drink tea. Well, if Mr. Tong’s stinking intellectuals want to be nice, we’ll be pleasantly indifferent and invite them to edgy, empty tea parties.”

“It seems to us that now he has dumped those other British stool-pigeon barrister socialists, Mr. Tong is really at a loose end. We are always on the look-out for plausible front men – God, are we at the moment! – and he looks such a sweet prospect. If he could sell moderation to the Hong Kong people, hook line and sinker, then he would find himself very well placed in the CCP family. Indeed, had our direct election device gone through, Mr. Tong would have been just the sort of candidate we would have been scratching around to approve of. He might care to bear that in mind ”

Responding, Dr. So seemed greatly encouraged. “Just look at that intransigence and the willingness to talk to us. To me, that is an open invitation to dialogue. We will listen to what they say and they will listen to what they are saying. Hong Kong will certainly see democracy in my lifetime.” Dr. So is 25. She wept, bowed and left.

Stuart Wolfendale

Stuart Wolfendale is a freelance columnist, critic and writer based in Hong Kong. He wrote a long running weekly column in the South China Morning Post, was daily diarist of the Eastern Express, back page columnist of the Hong Kong Standard and contributor to Spike magazine. He also trains people in presentation skills and public speaking.