Although its front page declares Civic Party boss Audrey Eu the winner of last night’s great debate with chief executive Donald Tsang, the Standard refers to her on page 4 as the ‘underdog’. This is the sort of underdog most of us would like to be. Two surveys on who did better gave Audrey 67% and 71% to Donald’s respective 15% and 14%.
Viewers of the clash on PCCW’s now TV were treated to a little gauge across the bottom of the screen showing some sort of real-time approval rating (communist red for him, Taiwan-independence green for her). At first sight, the range of support for Audrey, from the high 70s to the 90s, looked overdone; the broadcaster is, after all, owned by Richard Li, a Civic Party sympathizer. But then, watching the fragrant, pro-democracy barrister stomping on Donald without mercy at times, you wondered how even 8% of the audience could judge the CE to be ahead. Even Donald would have pushed the Audrey button had he been watching at home.
More to the point, the debate – like the government’s other publicity campaigns – seems to have increased rather than reduced opposition to the electoral reform package for 2012. The only hope for a surge in support for the package now lies with Beijing and the rumours that a last-minute concession is on the way. Specifically, the murmuring says, the whole electorate will vote for the five new functional constituency seats for directly elected district council members.
The rumour owes much to former Justice Secretary and hardcore Communist Party loyalist Elsie Leung who changed her understanding about whether this moderate pro-democrats’ proposal is in accord with the Basic Law. At first she says it’s not, then she says it is. This might seem the slightly endearing sort of muddle you find in forgetful schoolmarmish spinsters in their twilight years. But when Elsie changes her understanding it usually means the old girl has had a telephone call.
Those of us who like a dash of Orwell with our congee will never forget how she changed her understanding of what the Basic Law said about the term of office for a chief executive (Donald) who takes over mid-term. At first she said he would have a full five years in office (which the Basic Law indeed said), then she said he wouldn’t (after Beijing produced an ‘interpretation’ of the law giving it a totally different and indeed illogical meaning). As she put it: “Having considered … new arguments and information, I consider that our earlier position was incorrect. We must therefore admit our mistake and change our view. To do otherwise would be disrespectful of the rule of law.” Freedom is slavery; ignorance is strength.
The idea that the CCP is about to make a concession to Hong Kong’s pro-democrats is too ridiculous for words. The CCP does not do concessions to its own citizens, whose role for 3,000 years has been to tremble and obey. (If it did happen – however trivial or stingy it might seem – it would be unprecedented. It would have to be part of a bigger game plan whereby the Big Lychee would in practice become more tightly managed by Beijing. Even so, Hong Kong’s opposition would be strongly advised to grab it, fall to the ground and grovel in adoring thanks, because otherwise it might be another three millennia before you see it happen again.)
That said, something is afoot when Elsie changes her understanding. Most likely, Beijing early next week will announce a sort of quasi-concession: if the package gets through Legco on Wednesday, we will make a firm commitment to (say) some semi-directly-elected functional constituencies for 2016. The pro-democrats would spit in contempt, and we will draw nearer to the Armageddon Donald warned about last night. The nail-biting tension continues.
Will Donald entertain us with any more acts of public self-flagellation? As a way of convincing us that he is desperate to get the package through, undergoing Death by Audrey on live TV was – if we are to be honest – quite impressive. It would be rather decent of him to submit himself (as did his predecessor, now I think about it) to further highly publicized bouts of human bear-baiting. We need a bit of fun.
Opus Dei, lol that must be the reason a small, bad tempered, nerdy man, who’s not perfect in his mother tongue chooses to debate a tall, good looking, erudite barrister. The best part is that Tsang may have honestly believed that by holding such a debate that he ‘could polish a turd’ when in fact, he only reinforced the fact that he’s a puppet. His comments about radicals will also hopefully alienate him further and wont be forgotten I’m sure.
Beijing will offer a ‘concession’ so as to get the legislation passed. So, HK has had it’s own ‘Checkers’ debate. Lol, we do live in interesting times.
Walking past Legco last night I have come to the conclusion that the Hong Kong government has two modes of operation: inaction and hysterical over-reaction.
I didn’t know Hemlock understands Canto and reads Chinese.
He was talking about me.
What is a Checkers debate? Something to do with old taxicabs?
I think with just two years left Beijing will let Donald serve out his term. If his remaining term was any longer I think a health scare would (again) have to be created as he is getting quite embarrassing. Whilst there was a little bit of sympathy for the cropped haired one, because he really didn’t want the job, difficult to do anything other than sit back and enjoy Donald ‘getting the job done’
Dana Smith; it refers to a famous speech by Richard Nixon. “The Checkers speech was an early example of a politician using television to appeal directly to the electorate, but has since sometimes been mocked or denigrated. “Checkers speech” has come more generally to mean any emotional speech by a politician.”
It’s the population at large (not just the gov’t and it’s officers) that operate with these two modes!