(China Daily, Hong Kong Edition – 2 September 2003)
By Xiao Ping
A few months ago, when Antony Leung apologized for the car purchase incident, Emily Lau Wai-hing was the most persistent of all on Leung's resignation. Now Leung has paid a price for his slip, but Lau is putting on a show of remorseless pomposity for her "Taiwan independence" activities.
One cannot but ask this question: principal officials have to be held accountable for what they do, so what about legislators? Antony Leung needed to resign, so why should Emily Lau be allowed to keep her post as a legislator?
To be fair, Leung's blunder pales in comparison with Lau's, which is totally different in nature.
Leung gave up a job in business that paid 10 times as much in order to serve the Hong Kong people. He donated to charity twice the amount he saved in tax on the car purchase. Judging from his dedication and his financial status, nobody would believe that he would do something to ruin his own career for a sum in the tens of thousands of dollars. After the incident, he offered to resign, explained to LegCo, and apologized to the public. He did not shirk from his responsibility.
By contrast, Emily Lau's actions are entirely willful. When LegCo passed a unanimous resolution against "Taiwan independence", she chose to be absent. Recently, knowing full well the political background of "Taiwan Advocates", she attended a conference in Taiwan that was intended to promote "de-Sinofication"
moves. "Taiwan's future should be determined by the Taiwan people themselves", she said. This typical paraphrase of "Taiwan independence" has been repeated by her for 20 years.
Now, in the face of a public outcry in Hong Kong, she insists on her "pro-Taiwan independence" stance, refusing to recognize that Taiwan is part of China.
She defends herself with the excuse of "free speech", and turns the table around by demanding an apology from her critics. She even claims "not to be regretful at all" and will keep on doing it". Such airs and words of pugnacity are intolerable beyond description.
What Antony Leung failed was to live up to the requirements of self-discipline as a principal official under the accountability system as well as the chief executive's trust. The public criticized his error and harboured pity for his political immaturity. What Emily Lau challenges is the national principle and the State law. She tramples upon the national pride of Hongkongers and all Chinese people. The public feels regret for electing representatives with total disregard for national conviction, and anger for her violation of promises and her lack of self-reflection on her own behaviour.
There have now emerged cries from LegCo to strip Emily Lau of her legislator status. There should be no tolerance of evil. The resignation of legislators and senior officials is not uncommon, ranging from Cheng Kai-nam to Antony Leung. None of them erred as seriously as Emily Lau. Should Hong Kong resort to the practice of "tolerating major offences and punishing lapses"? We will wait and see.