Semi-obscure veteran leftist Ng Hong-mun, currently working on his third book on the National People’s Congress, recently caught the public eye after being granted an audience with Premier Wen Jiabao. So far as anyone could tell (or cared), it was a bit of face-giving for our local traditional patriotic community. Their loyalty to Beijing, often involving personal sacrifice during the colonial era, has mostly been rewarded with kicks in the teeth, notably the appointment of detested former British running dogs and shoe-shiners – civil servants and tycoons – to run Hong Kong since 1997.
Ng has now come up with a ‘weird’ idea, namely that all three main contenders for next Chief Executive – Henry Tang, CY Leung and Rita Fan – somehow team up and rule the city as a sort of triumvirate, with Rita as the head. Since you don’t get to serve in the NPC from 1975 to 2008 by having ideas, we can assume that he was put up to it. Maybe Beijing’s local emissaries want to get a feel for the public mood by stirring up a bit of debate about an impossible arrangement. Perhaps they want to send a message to the potential candidates and their local supporters that none of them is especially appealing. Maybe it is their oblique way of telling Regina Ip that whatever happens, she isn’t in the running. Most likely, it is part of their cunning communication strategy to gradually prepare us for the revelation that, yes, it will of course be dear old plodding, unchallenging, non-troublesome Henry.
Ng himself admits that his idea is nonsensical. The only person who seems to take it seriously is an academic interviewed this morning on RTHK3 who seems to think the aim is to cast characters for a soap opera/sitcom like Friends. It’s a great idea, he said, because Rita is the popular one everybody likes, CY is the one with ideas and Henry is the one with experience in government.
If we were casting a different sort of TV drama we would put it a bit differently. Rita is the unprincipled, opportunistic one who switched loyalties from pro-British to pro-Beijing battleaxe and has some dubious business connections and shady family history (this is the non-ageist version). CY is smart but creepy and hardly anyone likes him, not least because he just looks evil. Henry is nice but dim, easy to push around and guaranteed to do whatever his superiors tell him. No prizes for guessing which of these three characters is most likely to get the lead role in Communist Puppets in Space.