"Big Sister" Liza Wang Ming Chuen's sudden call for home-return permits to be issued to those democrats barred from entering the mainland has baffled quite a number of her colleagues in the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. What is going on is open to guesses.
Wang was rather relaxed yesterday when she came across the media in the morning. She said that what she had suggested on Wednesday was nothing more than a statement of her own opinion - and that it was not made at the behest of the democrats.
But the guessing game has already begun in the corridors of the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, where Hong Kong delegates are getting together with their mainland counterparts for the annual meetings of the National People's Congress and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. Her colleagues from the SAR, some of them at least, are not taking the matter on face value.
The suspicions in the corridors of the Great Hall are that although Big Sister - Wang's nickname in entertainment circles - is not a standing committee member of the CPPCC, she is no small potato either and must have the inside track to leadership circles as she has appeared to be independent of any blocs among the Hong Kong delegates throughout.
Some are reluctant to accept the perception that Wang's call is not a test balloon being floated with a purpose in mind. It has even been speculated that someone higher up may want to do something about the issue.
But that is only a guess that is unlikely to be true.
It is well known that apart from the conservatives in the NPC and CPPCC, there are a certain number of younger members who think the home-return permits issue should be resolved sooner or later. The only difference is that they have never spoken up the way Big Sister did.
It is more likely that Big Sister did it to attract attention. Perhaps Wang had never anticipated the flood of media attention that is being given to her suggestion. It is unimaginable that Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen would know nothing about it beforehand if Big Sister was only making the call as a test balloon.
Whatever it is, there is one thing certain up to this point: the call has, apart from the guessing game that is going on, yet to stir up great interest among the NPC and CPPCC members.
Perhaps the members are hewing to the line that it is better to "work more and talk less" in the mainland, especially when it comes to dealing with Beijing on sensitive issues.
The pan-democrats know this too. They have been advised to maintain a low profile on numerous occasions and to be pragmatic if they want to break the ice with Beijing and prise open the door to dialogue. Perhaps the pan- democrats feel they have no choice but to remain high profile in order not to upset long-time supporters.
Not every pan-democrat believes in keeping a high profile, however. Lau Chin-shek, a famous hardliner in the early pro-democracy movement, has since been accused by his fellow activists of giving in to mainland influence.
Frederick Fung Kin-kee, another early champion in the movement, has been ridiculed for following in Lau's footsteps after striving to maintain a position relatively independent from the others.
Anthony Cheung Bing-leung is no longer regarded as a member of the pro- democratic camp since joining the Executive Council.
Allies have now become distant friends, if not outright enemies.
Didn't the chief executive say he has been working quietly to bring about a breakthrough on this matter? The pan- democrats must do their fair share too if there is to be a resolution.