With the expulsion of Gary Fan and Au Nok-hin from the legislature, the democratic camp has now lost 27 per cent of the legislators who were elected either in the 2016 election or subsequently in by-elections.

This is a staggering loss taking place in an already rigged election system but not quite rigged enough for the braying anti-democrats who are still trying to eject another three democrats – Tanya Chan, Ted Hui and Shiu Ka-chun – which would mean that well over a third of those elected would lose their seats.

Au Nok-hin Gary Fan
Au Nok-hin and Gary Fan. Photo: In-Media.

Memories are short so it is largely forgotten that the anti-democrats got off to a flying start in terms of expulsions by getting rid of six legislators on the paper-thin grounds that they had failed to take their oaths correctly.

Anti-democrat legislators, and indeed the former chief executive Leung Chun-ying, were given an opportunity to re-take their oaths after misspeaking but no such leeway was extended to those who came to the legislative chamber with impressive popular mandates.

The pro-China camp is gunning for Ted Hui because of a phone snatching incident, in which he relieved a Legislative Council staff member of her phone during one of the many disputes in the chamber. This, in the eyes of the anti-democrats, is far worse than making racist and loathsome sexist remarks in the chamber. The person who made them, Junius Ho, can expect no comeback.

The expulsion of Fan and Au is, in many ways, worse than the expulsions for dodgy oath-taking because their election is being declared null and void as a result of errors committed by civil servants acting as election officials.

The High Court has now ruled that disqualifications of both Agnes Chow and Ventus Lau from standing in a by-election – that was in turn prompted by the original expulsion of previously elected legislators – means that those who were elected in their place must pay for the actions of incompetent and zealous bureaucrats who exceeded their powers.

Legislative Council
Photo: LegCo.

Having experienced the wholesale rejection of anti-democrats in the recent District Council elections, the losers are intent on preventing another by-election taking place. All pretence of adherence to democratic principles has been abandoned as they try and work out how to cope with electors who have committed the sin of turning their backs on the pro-China camp.

This, in turn, raises questions in LegCo because without a 30 per cent presence in the chamber the democrats are deprived of veto powers they once held. Or does it? If Andrew Leung, the democrat-averse President of LegCo, had the smallest interest in constitutional propriety he would no doubt rule that the 30 per cent quota still holds as the overall number of members has shrunk from 70 to 68. But Leung has a consistent track record of partisan chairmanship which suggests that he will ignore the numbers and go for the opportunity to further neuter the democrats.

Meanwhile, it is interesting to note the growing number of commentaries from the usual suspects in the pro-China camp who have declared that Beijing was vindicated in its suspicions over granting universal suffrage to the people of Hong Kong because they have now demonstrated that they cannot be trusted to vote the right way.

And it’s worth remembering that all those so-called middle-of-roaders who were urging people to accept the ill-fated 2014 reform proposals for the election of the Chief Executive have been shown to be either naïve or possibly devious.

They argued that Hongkongers should pocket a reform that allowed universal suffrage to be used for this election even though Beijing would be able to screen candidates it did not like via its control over the Election Committee, which would have the power to do their dirty work for them.

Occupy Central
The Umbrella Movement in 2014. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

In other words, these so-called reforms amounted to little more than allowing the public to vote for Beijing’s chosen candidates. Fortunately, Hong Kong’s smart people quickly saw through this ruse.

And yet here we are again with expulsions still taking place in the legislature, screening out of candidates still being invoked to prevent Joshua Wong standing in the district council elections and the anti-democrats still busy scheming over new ways to render elections as meaningless as possible.

If only Hong Kong people could be as tame as the delegates to the National People’s Congress, who have learned the art of synchronised hand raising to support whatever the leadership tells them to support.

Tut-tut Hongkongers, you are sorely in need of better political education. Come to think of it, that is precisely the thought in the minds of the anti-democrats, who feel that political indoctrination for students is badly lacking.

Steve Vines

Stephen Vines

Stephen Vines is a journalist, writer and broadcaster and ran companies in the food sector. He left Hong Kong with great reluctance in July 2021 following the crackdown on freedom of expression. Prior to departure he had been the host of the RTHK television current affairs programme ‘The Pulse’, a columnist for ‘Apple Daily’ and a contributor to other outlets. He continues to be a columnist for ‘HKFP’. Vines was the founding editor of 'Eastern Express' and founding publisher of 'Spike'. In London he was an editor at The Observer and in Asia has worked for international publications including, the Guardian, Daily Telegraph, BBC, Asia Times and The Independent and, during Hong Kong’s 2019/20 protests, for the Sunday Times. Vines is the author of several books, the latest being Defying the Dragon – Hong Kong and Worlds’ Biggest Dictatorship