Race down the Path of Democracy: Ronnie Tong’s powerful message

Ronnie Tong (湯家驊) had a good night hosting a constellation of Hong Kong political stars – and raising 1.7 million dollars for his new political group. Potent portents in an election year.

Ronnie Tong’s new political vehicle, Path of Democracy, showed its power in attracting political heavyweights at a politically star-studded premiere of the American movie Race,a tale of the black American runner Jesse Owen and his moment of triumph in the face of Hitler’s ultra-racist Nazi regime in Berlin.

At a time of constant conflict in Hong Kong politics, Mr Tong and PoD have planted their flag in the territory of compromise.  That message seems to be appreciated by many across the political spectrum who came out to support him.  The top members of the Cabinet, political rebels like James Tien, and NGOs pushing a message of an inclusive Hong Kong society, were all supportive.

Notable by their absence were the strident politicians of all stripes. Radical pan-dems and localists were just as absent as populist pro-Beijing politicians who have been blowing the political dog whistle of racism in Hong Kong.

Radical pan-dems and localists were just as absent as populist pro-Beijing politicians who have been blowing the political dog whistle of racism in Hong Kong.

Heavy hitters

Chief Secretary Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥) and Financial Secretary John Tsang (曾俊華), who rarely make a joint appearance at celebrity events, both attended the fundraising premiere of PoD and give their blessing to Mr Tong and PoD on Wednesday (13 Apr) night.

“Given the current chaotic and conflictual political conditions in HK, I really appreciate what PoD does and its goals match the core values that Hong Kong society embraces,” Mrs Lam said.

“A man as busy as I am cannot imagine getting a chance to watch a film on a weekday night,” exclaimed the well-known film lover Mr Tsang, who usually goes to the cinema on Sunday mornings. “I will probably share my feelings about the film on my blog.” It would be in keeping with his recent missive on inclusion he published this past weekend, a paean to the diversity of Hong Kong society.

Also speaking were Mr Tong’s guests, Alman Chan (陳兆焯), Founder and Principal of Christian Zheng Sheng College, Chan Ka-ho (陳家豪), the current 3000m steeplechase record-holder in HK, and Shalini Mahtani (馬夏邐) of The Zubin Foundation. The Foundation calls for more inclusion of minority voices in government decision making and recently screened a list of over 100 candidates to choose 16 highly qualified Hongkongers to sit on government boards. Ms. Lam attended that event and was strongly supportive of the message of inclusion there.

Many PoD members were in the fundraising premiere, including:

  • Cheung Chor-yung (張楚勇), Secretary-General of PoD and Senior Teaching Fellow of Department of Public Policy of CityU of HK,
  • Derek Yuen (袁彌昌), Chief Executive Officer of PoD, Associate Member of the Central Policy Unit of HK government,
  • Joseph Chan (陳祖為), Co-Convenor (Research) of PoD and Professor of Politics and Public Administration of HKU,
  • Ray Yep (葉健民), Co-Convenor (Research) of PoD and Professor of Politics and Associate Head of Department of Public Policy, CityU of HK
  • Sung Yun-wing (宋恩榮) Governor of PoD and Director of Shanghai — Hong Kong Development Institute of CUHK, and
  • Richard Wong (王于漸), Governor of PoD and Professor of Economics of HKU.

Government supporters included Yau Shing-mu (邱成武), the Undersecretary of Transport and Housing Bureau, and Exco member Fanny Law (羅范椒芬). LegCo member Felix Chung (鍾國斌) of the Liberal Party also came and celebrated with Mr Tong. Mr Chung’s Liberal Party colleague, James Tien (田北俊), did not attend, but did place a full page ad in the event programme.

“Given the current chaotic and conflictual political conditions in HK, I really appreciate what PoD does and its goals match the core values that Hong Kong society embraces,” Mrs Lam said.

Other ad supporters included the Gold Coast Hotel (owned by the Sino Group chaired by Mr. Robert Ng Chee Siong 黄志祥), Centaline Chairman Shih Wing-ching (施永青), Mr Lan Kwai Fong Dr. Allan Zeman (盛智文), and Lo Man-tuen (盧文端), Honorary President of Chinese Manufacturers’ Association of Hong Kong (CMA) and member of Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).

The most surprising face was Lau Chin-shek (劉千石), the former President of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU). He was the only pan-democracy political figure in the fundraising premiere. After his retirement, he rarely makes public appearances, and was warmly welcomed by old friends.

In a double election year, with the Election Committee and LegCo both being chosen, political alliances in our fractured scene bear scrutiny to see if Hong Kong’s political middle can create a new core that can drive electoral success in 2016.


 

Benny Kwok

Benny Kwok

Benny Kwok is a Harbour Times journalist following Hong Kong affairs, especially targeting political and business inner circles. He earned his bachelor’s degree majoring International Studies in City University of Hong Kong, and obtained his master degree of Asian and International Studies in CityU of HK also. He worked for Hong Kong Economic Journal (HKEJ) as the International News Reporter before joining HT.
Benny Kwok
Benny Kwok the author

Benny Kwok is a Harbour Times journalist following Hong Kong affairs, especially targeting political and business inner circles. He earned his bachelor's degree majoring International Studies in City University of Hong Kong, and obtained his master degree of Asian and International Studies in CityU of HK also. He worked for Hong Kong Economic Journal (HKEJ) as the International News Reporter before joining HT.