What’s between Anthony Wu’s ears, Part 2: Beijing stakes claim

“Children of America, I got fat as a public service…” Click to hear Allan Sherman!

Prompted no doubt by my modest opinion yesterday that Anthony Wu is an inept waste of space when it comes to formulation of policy for Hong Kong, the Central People’s Government sounds him out as a possible Chief Executive ‘candidate’ for 2017. This is according to the South China Morning Post’s front-page story quoting ‘a person familiar with the situation’ and a conveniently available Wu himself in consecutive paragraphs.

This implies that whoever gets picked for 2012 will get one term only, which in turn suggests that Beijing expects him or her to be too unpopular (and maybe too old or mad into the bargain) to take part in the manipulable, quasi-democratic polling system to be introduced five years later. A possible hint, perhaps, that the people picking the next CE are thinking less in terms of nice-but-dim Chief Secretary textiles scion Henry Tang and more toward nakedly ambitious Executive Council convener CY Leung, or possibly former Legislator Rita Fan.

Wu is apparently one of several possible figures being sounded out, so it may never happen. However, we can disregard his protestations that there are many people in Hong Kong better qualified for the top job. Plenty of people are or would have been vastly superior to the two Chief Executives the Chinese government has foisted on the Big Lychee since 1997, but they had no chance of being appointed because the Communist Party didn’t trust them. (And the black hair-dye brigade – an increasingly hereditary bunch, incidentally – have never been particularly comfortable about former colonial official Sir Donald Tsang.)

What sort of exciting initiatives could we expect from a Wu administration? For reasons I can’t quite put my finger on, I have images of his government reducing school physical education from one hour to 15 minutes a week, and extending the stock exchange’s lunch break to 3.30pm.

For a clue, we can look at what he does. He is Chairman of the General Chamber of Commerce (despite having little or no business background) and of the Hospitals Authority (a high-profile figurehead in the public sector). He seems to be a member of every vacuous talking-shop Donald Tsang has ever assembled: the Commission on Strategic Development, the Greater Pearl River Delta Business Council, the Task Group on Constitutional Development and of course the Bauhinia Foundation – grand-sounding bodies with no known shreds of accomplishment to their name. He sits on an array of advisory boards alongside ranks of people who agree with Sir Bow-Tie, such as the Asian Games one and the Community Care Fund one.

In other words, he is one of that public-sector/public service nomenklatura that struts around thinking of itself as the very important and professional elite that runs Hong Kong. Monetary Authority boss Norman Chan is another; lawyer to the gentry Ronald Arculli is a veteran. Beneath them are civil servants and a sub-stratum of loyal wannabes like the tragic Bunny Chan, but the cream of this establishment maybe numbers several dozen. It is a mafia of smugness: a world of shoe-shiners being chauffeur-driven between conferences, awarding each other medals and being appointed to each other’s committees, while the rest of Hong Kong looks on bemused at the way they have seduced themselves into believing that the length of their resumes and the size of their taxpayer-funded salaries reflect their true worth.

Just as our wealthiest tycoons imagine themselves to be entrepreneurial geniuses but have never tasted a whiff of marketplace competition, so these people have essentially had their positions in the political establishment handed to them on a plate. They haven’t fought their way up through a potentially deadly hierarchy like the leaders of China, or battled it out in elections like big-city bosses in democracies. They are amateurs. We can tell because, if we can bring ourselves to watch closely, we see that our top leaders like Donald and his namesake John are not really running Hong Kong. It’s embarrassing play-acting. They are pretending to run the city, but they don’t really know how to do it and they are hoping the rest of us don’t notice. At times it seems they have convinced themselves they know what they doing, but their constant fear and mistrust of outsiders with ideas proves otherwise.

And that’s what we would probably get from Wu. It wouldn’t be policymaking; it would be pretend policymaking. Still it’s a long way off, 2017. The Communist Party might fall. The Messiah could launch his second coming. Wu might be attacked and eaten by a bear. Anything could happen.

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11 Responses to What’s between Anthony Wu’s ears, Part 2: Beijing stakes claim

  1. Jeeves says:

    Full employment, near double-digit growth year on year, record life expectancy and no tax on wine…and you call these people amateurs.

    Go to Greece or Ireland or Portugal to enjoy the professionals or join the millions selling their homes in the biggest professional democracy of all, the US of A.

  2. Frivolous says:

    Jeeves forgot low crime, wallet size freedoms, low tax, free speech and press, 18 degree winters, tolerance of children, no corruption (the small stuff at least),safe streets, hiking in country parks, islands and beaches, best public transport in the world and cheap San Miguel. No place is perfect, especially when the politicians get involved, but I know where Id rather be….

  3. Saikungbob says:

    No corruption! Low taxes? There may be little low level corruption, but favored state of the tycoons that run this place is blatant high level corruption.

    We may pay little in the way of taxes to the government, but what about the massive indirect taxes collected by those same tycoons.

    While you’re waxing lyrical about the truly good things about Hong Kong and its people you’re breathing air that is hazardous to your health. I can’t help but think that the government’s failure to address that problem is due to the fact that dealing with it would hurt that same small group that is making this place harder and harder to live in. Our well being and that of our children is being sacrificed to the greed of that bunch. Hang ’em all and the sooner the better!

  4. Stephen says:

    Is this the same fella, who in his capacity as Hospital Authority Head, commented that Shane Soloman (outgoing HA Chief Exec) “did a good job as a gweilo”?
    So the inept waste of space has a chip on his shoulder…

  5. Stephen says:

    Woops typo

    Is this the same fella, who in his capacity as Hospital Authority Head, commented that Shane Soloman (outgoing HA Chief Exec) “did a good job for a gweilo”?
    So the inept waste of space has a chip on his shoulder…

  6. Doctor Disbelief says:

    Man … that link to Joseph Yam’s salary … I just shake my head every time I see it compared to the other central bank chiefs. Presumably Stormin’ Norman Chan is pulling down the same level of taxpayers’ dollars. All pretty much just for following the US-peg! Gissa job …

    Life is a lemon and I want my taxes back.

  7. Vile Traveller says:

    Credit where credit’s due, our leaders have certainly done a good job with the 18 degree winters.

  8. Dr Anita Dick says:

    But why am I paying the same price for my wine at Wellcome as before the tax cut ?

    You don’t think that that old devil Li Ka-shing -may he burn to a crisp- is pocketing the difference ?

  9. Grumpy says:

    you forgot the high prices of everything, from baked beans to wide screen tvs (and property of course), the thriving arts scene, the spacious living conditions, the quality of the air we breathe, the minimum wage, the treatment meted out to domestic staff, Alan Zeman, customer service from the banks and telephone companies, blah blah

    Life in HK is indeed good for a very small proportion of the population (some of whom are posting on this blog, and myself included), but pretty grim for the vast majority.

  10. Brocco Li says:

    My apartment is so small I can’t even swing a hamster.

  11. Li c*nt Shing says:

    I don’t own Wellcome, so i am not pocketing the difference for the wine you bought theer exactly, but I do insist my manager of Park N Rob call wellcome up every monday and discuss what prices we will set everything for the week, plus which items we will pretend sold for a higher price last week. It has done me well this little scam so don’t knock it

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