The mood – indeed, the scene – on the Mid-Levels Escalator this morning is one of unconstrained lust, as Hong Kong’s normally reserved and decorous middle classes clamour hungrily for the white envelopes being distributed by smiling, bikini-clad beauties in gold sashes alongside the miraculous moving walkway. The commuters eagerly tear at the wrapping, leaving the air and the sidewalks thick with a swirling snow of rough confetti as they gleefully pull out the desperately desired contents: New People’s Party membership application forms.
The choice is simple. You can become a Friend of NPP, which according to the small print leaves you “…without the right to speak,” or, after passing muster with a vetting committee, you can become an Associate Member and “…have no right to vote in general party meetings and run for party office.” Both these categories of relationship with Regina Ip’s emergent political force are free of charge.
My neighbour at Perpetual Opulence Mansions, Mrs Chan the marketing manager, examines the papers and looks crestfallen. “This isn’t what I want,” she tells me. Her husband Ian has a Law Society badge on the Mercedes; they were recently – somewhat suddenly and unexpectedly – admitted to the HK Jockey Club, and their three-year-old daughter Patricia is undergoing special tutoring ahead of her kindergarten interview. “I want the full high-class membership, where you pay annual dues and have the right to speak and vote and run for office.”
I pull a thick gold-trimmed sheet from my jacket pocket. “You need one of these,” I tell her, “but I’m not sure if Regina’s giving them out to just anyone at this stage.” I unfold it and look at the luxurious embossed velum. While the application forms for second- and third-tier NPP followers ask about education levels and whether you can help out with donkey work like driving, translation or IT, this requests rather more profound personal details. The first question is ‘Did you inherit a huge textiles fortune from your father?’ The second is ‘Do you own most of Lan Kwai Fong?’
Noticing her eyes turning homicidal red, I try to placate Mrs Chan. “I’m sure someone of your status will be acceptable,” I assure her, gently patting the shoulder of her mink coat. “I’ll see what I can do.”
What else can I say? People need to understand what we are talking about here: ‘Quality Democracy’. What is the opposite of ‘quality democracy’? Why, ‘riffraff democracy’, of course – the sort where just anyone can take part.
This is to political movements what an iconic luxury development with panoramic harbour views is to real estate. To put it in language we can all understand, if the NPP were an apartment complex it would have a sprawling marble club house with chandeliers, and it would be marketed with pictures of cute kids playing with balls to highlight the point that this is such a lavish, up-market project it has enough space for kids to play balls in. It is only for those who have made the grade and expect the most refined and flawless elegance and sophistication. Those who demand Elite Exclusive Enhanced Excellence.
Sorry, Mrs Chan.
To amuse our friend Mike further, you would no doubt spot that these forms are the work of ardent, diligent ex-civil servants whose jobs’ daily highlight was to, inter alia, prepare immaculate, comprehensive and computer-friendly forms for such important matters as the monthly departmental soft drinks orders and air-conditioning optimum temperature surveys. Preparing these forms take precedence over such trivial matters as meeting the public and answering the phone after 5:30pm when lights go off.
And their target applicants? Current civil servants mastering the said art.
Regina’s visionary words are to be echoed: a democractic society can elect as much a leader as Hitler as herself.
At this rate, I’ll bet you two bottles of hair spray that Regina will upgrade her Gold Bauhinia Star to Gold Bauhinia Medal by 2013. Long live the Queen!
Lets judge Queen Regina’s success on whether she manages to get Michael ‘mouthful of shoe leather’ Tien back into the legislature in 2012.
Your neightbour, Mrs Chan, has a husband called Ian and a 3-yr-old daughter called Patricia? I don’t believe you.
The multi-tier system requiring endorsements from members wearing gold-plated diapers is not all that different from the Drabs, Dips and the Civvies (from what I can tell from the membership sections of their websites). Which isn’t so much an endorsement of NPP’s system as much as raising the obvious question of what holy purity do the Dips and Civvies think they’re protecting by making entrants jump through so many hoops.
All you need to do to join the Acidiers is to send an online form (or mail a PDF printout). That’s why they’re such a train wreck of uncouth plebs. Tsk tsk.