Another day, another U-turn

Article 23; the single-developer model for the West Kowloon cultural hub; the recent HK$6,000 top-up for every Mandatory Provident Fund account; not to mention numerous proposed tax and health reforms… To the lengthy list of Hong Kong government U-turns we can now add the bizarre plan to avoid by-elections for vacant democratically elected seats in the Legislative Council by appointing the runner-up in the last election to the empty seat. Instead, if and when our leaders get their story straight, it now seems the seat will go the runner-up from the same party.

The original proposal would have produced flagrant violations of voters’ wishes. We can be sure of this because Secretary for Constitutional Affairs Stephen Lam said the exact opposite just two days ago. This revised version of the plan is somewhat more logical – they will probably find some sort of precedent for it in Belgium or Tasmania or somewhere – even if just as objectionable in principle.

The government-friendly Standard charitably describes the shift as a ‘tweak’. The South China Morning Post quotes anonymous sources as saying that Beijing’s local representatives at the Liaison Office are behind it. This makes sense given that the original idea to ban legislators from resigning in order to trigger a quasi-referendum looked very like a hasty just-do-it command from them, hence the exceptionally dismal reasoning and excuses that accompanied the ill-thought-out plan. (On the face of it, such local electoral details have nothing to do with the cadres in Connaught Road West, but the Communist Party would view the possibility, or ‘loophole’ as our officials like to call it, as a theoretical threat to its supremacy; imagine an opposition lawmaker resigning and urging voters to re-elect him if they supported an end to one-party rule.)

So this time, our top officials deserve at least a shred of sympathy – to the extent that it is possible to muster any for a slimy bunch of lying zombie-weasels. Beijing’s emissaries, it would appear, have told them to break some eggs, whisk vigorously in a bowl for three minutes, apply the goo liberally to their faces, then hop around with one foot in the mouth in full public view.

One factor behind the decision to backtrack was probably increasingly confident-sounding warnings from the Bar Association that the measure would deprive citizens of their constitutional right to vote and run for election, and thus end up with the government getting its rear-end kicked in the courts.  Not that the revised proposal looks hugely better in this respect, especially if the government decides to distinguish between ‘mischievous’ vacancies arising from a legislator deliberately resigning to make a point, and natural ones resulting from death, illness or imprisonment for fraud.  Assuming no-one else gets there first, radical lawmaker ‘Long Hair’ Leung Kwok-hung has vowed to resign if the new rules are implemented just so he can sue.

Aside 1… Millions of alert Hongkongers have spotted a vaguely familiar, youthful face cropping up on TV and in the press in recent days. Who is he? Didn’t he have a bit-part in Infernal Affairs 3? Was he the one who presented that short-lived quiz show a few years back? Or is he the guy who was seen with a former Miss Hong Kong for a while, then faded from view? The answer is: he is Wong Yan-lung. He is Secretary for Justice.

Aside 2… People who could read about the staggering incompetence and ineptitude of the Hong Kong government all day long, stopping only for brief calls of nature, will be delighted to discover, as I did yesterday, that Next magazine’s regular English-language column is archived, in clunky but readable pdf-type format, on this Facebook page.

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7 Responses to Another day, another U-turn

  1. Maugrim says:

    I nearly choked when I saw this by Stephen Lam in response to the u-turn “This will be an erosion of the open and fair electoral system that we cherish in Hong Kong, he said”. How can that toad keep a straight face? I hope they get thousands of people marching on July 1st. I can’t imagine that Wong Yan Lung, a decent man, supports such a cynical and ambivalent regard for the rule of law in Hong Kong as expressed by Lam.

  2. Stephen says:

    Add to that to the U turn on the Democratic Party’s moderate reforms for the next Legco rejections when Wong Yan Lung predecesor declared them incompatible with the Basic Law only to change her mind just days later.

    You would think Beijing appointed officials would now know not to give commands to this HK Government as they are hopelessly unable to deliver. This “staggering incompetence and ineptitude” will continue under The Horseman’s upcoming reign – if your Time Out prediction proves correct.

  3. Longtimenosee says:

    I think there should be an update to your book Hemmy…
    Perhaps a new book called -The Tsang years. From Bad to Worse.-
    And some sort of free gift to help u-turn the page?

  4. Sen says:

    This from RTHK’s Backchat

    On tomorrow’s Backchat we’ll be talking about the replacement arrangement to fill a vacancy should a legislator resign/die/go bankrupt/go to jail etc.. in light of the government’s push to abolish a by-election. Stephen Lam, will join us live on Backchat tomorrow morning, so let us know if you’ve got a question/comment for him!

    you have been warned!

  5. Real tax payer says:

    I am still wondering “job” it was that Donald Duck would get “done”

    If it was it to magically turn all his top officials into zombie-weasels ( and slimy weasels at that) I must admit he has done a good job.

    Actually, I greatly admire our BJ masters. They successfully govern a country with a population 200 x ours in HK , steer it through financial and economic minefields , and still have time to give DD and Co a little lesson in how to run a place that would hardly make it to the level of a medium-sized city on the mainland. ( No, that is not tongue-in-cheek : I do really admire this current group of leaders in China . They are clever and – dare I say it – genuinely patriotic guys in their own ways )

    What appals me is the way DD and Co can’t think for themselves any longer , and when they do try to think they just end up shooting themselves – and each other – in the foot . Well, better the foot than the head because at least there’s some bone in their feet, which is a lot more than can be said for their heads

    And to think I fork out hundreds of thousands of $ every year in tax to pay for them

    Roll on July 1 . I be a-marchin this year.

    BTW: has anyone seen or heard of DD recently? Seems he has done a David Copperfield and teleported himself to Hawaii or (better still) another planet .

  6. Backchat says:

    Alas Sen, Mr Lam later changed his mind about coming on our programme . We’ve discussed the issue four times, and never managed to get a Government spokesman.

  7. Real Tax Peyer says:

    How to do a U-Turn in 7 easy lessons by Donald Duck Management Consultancy (very) Ltd

    1. decide what you intend to do

    2. pretend to consult the public

    3. ignore what the public says

    4. do what you intend to do

    5. listen to to what BJ says

    6. conduct U-turn

    7. tell the public you are doing what the public says

    HEALTH WARNING 1 : the first one or two times you do this it may feel uncomfortable, but by about the 3rd time it will get easier.

    HEALTH WARNING 2 : doing this too often may seriously damage both your conscience and your sense of morality

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