Lai lavishes on long list of communist spies

Editorial | 13 Mar 2017

It's a common establishment trick to support obscure candidates to split the votes of pan-democrats in the District Council and Legislative Council elections to increase the chances of its own people.

But it would be too far-fetched to generalize this to call retired judge Woo Kwok-hing a mole, and radical activist James Hon Lin-shan an associate of communists, simply because of Woo's candidacy, and Hon's backing for dissident lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung in running in the Chief Executive election.

However, Next Media boss Jimmy Lai Chi-ying made precisely those allegations, decrying Woo - who is now one of the three official CE candidates - and Hon, who is urging pan-democrats in the Election Committee to abstain from voting for anyone, after "Long Hair" quickly dropped out of the race.

Lai's claim that Woo and Hon are communist accomplices is serious. Without evidence, it's nothing more than just another conspiracy theory based on paranoia or hallucinations.

Yesterday, Woo, John Tsang Chun- wah and Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor participated in a forum to trade barbs over policy issues. Lai's criticism appeared in his Apple Daily publication on the same day. That couldn't have been coincidental.

The media magnate based his inference about Woo from the retired judge's son Alan, saying the younger Woo is a member of the China People's Consultative Conference of Maoming municipality, as well as the Hong Kong United Youth Association, and Y.Elites Association that have strong mainland connections.

Lai also cast aspersions on Alan Woo's uncle David Tang Kwok-keung's links to some mainland trade bodies, to fortify his claim that Woo was a communist mole - planted to split the 325 pan- democratic votes.

Lai didn't refer to Tsang by name, but it goes without saying he fears Woo will split the pan-dem votes at the expense of the mustachioed one, who has Lai's backing for the CE's post. Woo has dismissed the claim as "nonsense," describing it as a trait reminiscent of the Cultural Revolution. Lai has gone too far to rest his assertions on the background of family members. It's ironic that as he criticized the communists, he was employing the tricks that they're notorious for.

Then, just who is Hon whom Lai has decried so fiercely? Hon is a retired secondary school teacher. He gained popularity in 2012 at the height of the vigorous protests against national education, during which he went on a hunger strike for 171 hours, to be the last one to quit the protest.

The accusation that he's a Beijing agent simply flies in the face of the facts - a theory without substance or evidence.

As Lai slammed his own editorial department at Apply Daily for running Hon's commentary in the opinion section, could he be guilty of adopting Chairman Mao Zedong's tactic of condemning his own comrades for betraying him?

Then, could there be more to Lai's outburst?

It may be an attempt to rescue Tsang's election bid, for which support may be dissipating more quickly than feared. But no matter how desperate Lai may be in his personal crusade to save the former financial secretary from certain defeat, it's grossly unfair for him to label whoever is standing in his way a communist associate.

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