This is translated from CitizenNews' weekly digest tracking Hong Kong's political news over the past week. （一周政情：左派政黨入局分權 支聯大會離場解散 ）
The talk in the political circle centres on two events which went in opposite direction. Fewer than 5000 voters have chosen the new 1500-member Election Committee (EC), meanwhile, the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China (the Alliance), which has held annual vigil for the past 32 years, formally approved its disbandment on a general meeting.
The two largest pro-Beijing parties, DAB and FTU, secured more than 150 and 76 seats in the EC respectively. DAB was quick to propose setting up more ministerial positions and assigning political appointees to head mainland offices.
Observers were most concerned about two parts about the EC before Sunday’s “election”. Firstly, whether new faces in pro-Beijing camp may becoming the new ruling class in the years to come. Secondly, whether some pan-democrats may make their way in the EC to become “political vase”. The answer to the second question is now clear. The ordinary pan-democratic camp could not survive the rigorous political screening, none other than Tik Chi-yuen, who is sometimes viewed as a turncoat by leaders within the bloc. The EC is entirely composed of 1,488 pro-establishment members, and the dominance from opposition camp in last election, which it managed to control over 300 out of 1200 seats, has vanished.
The question of whether there would new ministers from the pro-Beijing camp remains to be seen. Despite some potential candidates may emerge, the DAB and FTU raised eyebrow for being the first to claim victory and claim for “rewards”. DAB’s proposal to reform cabinet structure is partly noteworthy.
Two weeks beforehand, chief executive Carrie Lam already indicated a new policy bureau in charge of cultural affairs and tourism will be formed and departments about planning and housing would be restructured to speed up housing development.
DAB’s plan went further to tailor for some of its fellow party member in three ways. A deputy to the chief secretary is proposed to coordinate cross-bureaux policies, such as population policy and youth affairs. The heads of government’s five offices in mainland and district officers will become politically appointed. Following the structure of the Central Government's “National Development and Reform Commission”, DAB said a “development and reform policy unit” shall oversee land, housing and infrastructure development, so as to support policy-making and medium and long-term researches.
If accepted, the proposals will immediately create a larger pool of political appointments, ranging from secretaries, directors of mainland officers or district officers. These positions, together with the newly proposed research unit, will no longer be limited to civil servants but will be open to party members. It speaks volume of pro-Beijing elites’ power grab from civil servants, as well as the pace of development. Has Beijing given its blessing before the proposal was raised? How will the civil servant led by Carrie Lam respond to this blatant power grab? Perhaps Lam’s last Policy Address in her first term will tell.
Another major political story for last week was the Alliance decided to dissolve after 32-year of struggle. It was perhaps no surprise after the similar closure of Apple Daily, the Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union and the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions. However, the Alliance’s decision still stands out because all of its core members are in jail, while the chairman and vice-chairperson, Lee Cheuk-yan and Chow Hang-tun debated about the disbandment while both were remanded. The motion to dissolve was passed by overwhelming majority of 41 to 4 also saddened many supporters.
The debate between Lee and Chow, a more traditional leader versus a rising young activists, may speak of differences across generations. Albert Ho and Lee were already thrown behind bars and faced serious charges of inciting subversion, which remained their wish that the remaining members will not be prosecuted and assets settled orderly, historical records properly preserved across places. However, Chow believes that since the Standing Committee has already decided to resist and pay the price, there is no guarantee that the others will be treated leniently even if they are disbanded now. She believes that it would be better to fight till the end, forcing the government to ban them and showing the world that the Alliance would rather be banned instead of bowing to fear.
Both have their own grounds because of the historical perspective. The older generation of the Alliance may feel that they have fulfilled their historical mission after 32 years of perseverance. They owe no one else. The younger generation, however, felt that their struggle is far from over and it was precisely the time to persevere, hoping to outlive the regime to one day raise the banner of Tian’anmen incident vindicated- if and when the right time comes.