The Tung Chee-hwa Decline and Fall Reenactment Society, also known as the Donald Tsang administration, takes an important step in re-creating the mood of the early 2000s as it pointedly echoes one of its critics’ opinions in the hope that heightened popularity will ensue. Six or seven years ago, we had to increase anti-suicide measures every time the crop-haired one plunged the city into despair when he pre-empted and even exceeded the opposition’s moans by bewailing all the misery and suffering Hong Kong was enduring under his rule. This time the chief executive, while not actually conceding that it is what Premier Wen Jiabao meant when he used the phrase a few weeks back, declares that the Big Lychee is indeed suffering from “deep-rooted conflicts” that are social and political, not just economic.
The taxonomy of deep-rooted conflicts being what it is, most clear-headed people probably never thought it made sense to divide Hong Kong’s profound illogicalities and injustices into three neat categories. But our visionary local leaders, following the example set by our masters in Beijing, have long promoted what sociologists or similar bores would call an artificial construct, whereby this is an economic city not a political one, we must focus on the economy, and we must be mindful of things called ‘livelihood issues’ and ‘grassroots’.
It is unlikely that Sir Bow-Tie’s apparent attempt to be in tune with his detractors and receptive to the overall restlessness out there will win him any sympathy. If some of our problems can be classed as ‘social’, he will insist, we must build more infrastructure, because that will create jobs, and if some count as ‘political’ then it shows how badly we need a consensus on his non-reform package for the 2012 elections.
This is why it will be hard for the Tsang government to precisely emulate its predecessor’s deterioration and failure in every detail. Tung was well-meaning, confused, indecisive and bumbling – in other words, all too human. Tsang is robotic, trained to repeat the same processes endlessly and incapable of creative thought. While Tung collapsed amid disheveled thuds and grunts, Tsang will seize up with much hissing and clattering. This is how history repeats itself.