Chris, Donald and boycotts rear their heads

Another day, another two (or was it three?) protests – hitting consulates, calling for democracy and G20 intervention, and barricading the cops in their HQ again. At some point, such assemblies might get stale, embarrassing or counter-productive – if the government is able to turn public opinion against the protestors. But so far, maybe thanks to the Xi’s Face at G20 effect, the gatherings seem to be keeping the heat on our tragic-looking excuse for an administration.

(Maybe ex-Chief Executive Donald Tsang, conviction now quashed, could turn up at some of these demonstrations? Good rehab for his image. Good way to skewer certain establishment foes. Good advertisement for importance of rule of law. Win-win!)

On the subject of keeping the heat on: former Governor Chris Patten helpfully weighs in with some advice for Carrie Lam, including a microscopically snarky reference to not recalling much about her, and a friendly (and I am sure heartfelt) reminder that, ‘to the Communist apparatchiks in Beijing, she is disposable’.  

And on the subject of turning your adversaries’ strength against them… We turn to an old but treasured subject – the role of Hong Kong’s cartelized domestic economy (aka ‘the tycoons’) in creating an angry populace. This Quartz article mentions consumers who make a point of buying from pro-democracy businesses. Very commendable. It also touches on the possibility of boycotts of companies that are part of pro-Beijing plutocrats’ conglomerates.

For some goods and services (electricity, gas, certain public-transport providers), the tycoon-owned suppliers have monopolies, so you have no choice but to buy from them. For others (groceries/personal-care retail), they dominate the market with big chains, but alternative outlets like wet markets and mom-and-pop stores exist.

This strength could be turned against them. In theory, if a third of Hong Kong households (roughly two million people) simply stopped using the Park N Shop/Watsons retailing empire, it would bring our number-one tycoon’s (high-volume/low-margin) supermarket chain to its knees.*

For politically correct purists, there is a snag. Much as shoppers might try to divert their business to small independent outlets, urban geography and the need for convenience would also lead them to buy more from the two other big chains. One is part of Hong Kong’s original authentic 19th Century opium-trading house, and the other is part of a Chinese state-owned giant (partnering with the UK’s Tesco).

But a boycott like this would inflict genuine pain on the targeted family-run conglomerate, and scare the hell out of the others – and, more important, pose an unnerving and unanswerable asymmetric civil-semi-disobedience challenge to the government and the CCP’s tycoon-co-opting United Front.

Update: a list of companies whose owners supported the extradition bill, for potential customers’ reference.

*Thinking ahead… In some neighbourhoods, Park N Shop would respond by ramping up its loyalty card stamps-redemption thing, which lures overseas domestic helpers (who do all their employers’ household shopping) with offers of free low-quality saucepans. You would need to mobilize your maid accordingly.

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6 Responses to Chris, Donald and boycotts rear their heads

  1. Chinese Netizen says:

    Looks like the CCP has spoken (re: Bowtie’s conviction) through the “independent” judiciary.

  2. "Seems Legit" says:

    @old git

    It’s just like that time in ’89 when those dozen or so students in Beijing all ganged up on the peaceful PLA mechanised Infantry and Armoured divisions who were just passing by and burnt thousands of them beyond recognition, with only their pristine completely-fire-proof™ uniforms to identify them.

  3. Mark Bradley says:

    Chinese netizen I am not sure what you are implying. The court of final appeal is definitely independent considering that it has judges from all over the Commonwealth realm. If Beijing needs to overrule them over constitutional issues then they have the npc standing committee.

    Please kindly note that corrupt government officials can never have their convictions overturned in mainland China and Donald was hardly in their pocket. He was in the pocket of the property cartel certainly but not in the pockets of slimeball communists.

    When the liaison office instructed Donald to implement national education he smiled and nodded and then like a good civil servant did not implement the national education policy and instead let CY deal with it.

    After CY and the even worse Carrie, I am certainly nostalgic for Donald. Tung was an imbecile and he owed a favour to the communists due to their bailout of his failing business.

  4. Stephen says:

    @Mark Bradley,

    An application to the NPC standing committee would have caused a stink (especially now) far better for the “highest” court to correctly apply the law ! After all they have a fair track record – the former Asia’s richest women precedent ?

    Lets remember how Donald was exposed. A Government “pre-election”leak about CY’s DTZ West Kowloon bla bla bla issues and CY unleashed his comrades, the CCP dogs of war, and they had plenty on the hapless Henry and also collateral Donald.

    If you want nostalgia the post has an excellent link to a withering piece from our former Governor.

  5. Mark Bradley says:

    @Stephen actually the npc standing committee under under article 158 subsection 1 is only authorised to interpret the HK constitution aka the basic law. Under subsection 2 and 3 HKSAR courts are also allowed to interpret the basic law, but they can be overrule by the NPC standing committee.

    Local legislation is supposed to be only interpreted by HK courts however and Donald’s case only involved local legislation therefore the court of final appeal is the only option for final adjudication at least on paper. The NPC according to article 17 of the basic law can “invalidate” local laws if they don’t comply with the basic law but doesn’t let them interpret them like they interpret the basic law.

    I fully agree with you regarding your 2nd and 3rd paragraph.

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