And the U-turn du jour is…

Hong Kong – the land where the standard, simple procedure whereby the mid-term resignation of a legislator triggers a by-election has mysteriously mutated into a giant loophole that a petrified public is begging the government to plug before it wrecks public finances and eats all our children.

On the whole, the city’s leaders have been given a surprisingly easy ride given the sheer falsehood of the ‘loophole’ scare. The real fear is labeling a by-election a referendum, and the people wetting themselves about it are the officials from Beijing. Yet few of the government’s disorganized and squabbling opposition successfully articulate the point that there is no loophole; it’s everyday democratic process, and the voters can deliver judgement as they see fit.

Still, despite their occasional ineptitude, the forces of reason and enlightenment can push Donald Tsang’s fast-wilting and hapless administration around. And so it comes to pass that a public consultation on the by-election ban, which was neither necessary nor possible just a few moments ago, is suddenly to go ahead. Looking at the video of the announcement, it is not hard to see how the three officials concerned fortified themselves before being pushed at bayonet-point before the cameras…

Chief Secretary Henry Tang, hurriedly and distractedly reading the press release, is on uppers and booze; Secretary for Justice Wong Yan-lung seems to be miles away on Quaaludes; Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Stephen Lam would appear to be tripping out on mushrooms – and who among us would not be if we found ourselves in his place?

The South China Morning Post quotes Insi Der, the omniscient and omnipresent government spokesman, as repeating the public-wants-loophole-plugged mantra. Ms Der then adds that withdrawing the bill is not an option because – and she has a perfectly straight face as she says it – it would send a confusing signal to the public. We can’t have that, obviously.

A public consultation wasn’t an option either, of course. Critics dismiss it as a ‘fake exercise’ as the government clearly intends to simply suspend the bill mid-course, let the opposition do its worst, and then push it through after summer. It will have the votes then because the main objection of government-friendly but skeptical lawmakers like former Security Secretary Regina Ip has been the lack of a consultation, not the actual ban on by-elections.

Officials still have reason to worry. Excitable pro-democrats threatening a long hot summer of demonstrations against the evil law are one thing, but the Bar Association is another. The tone of its brief press statement on the consultation contains just a hint of menace, or at least deep confidence of an ability to inflict damage and pain.

Some people are already feeling the hurt. Stroll along the wrong walkway in Central this morning and you would be presented with a free copy (is there any other sort?) of the local edition of China Daily. In its page of Hong Kong opinion (more than the SCMP gives you) a staff writer called Bob Lee heaps praise on the Democratic Alliance for the Blah-Blah of HK for feeling the public’s pulse and offering constructive suggestions to the government.

Could this be the same DAB that, as good Communist front-men should, loyally and loudly opposed calls for a public consultation on the by-election ban, agreeing with officials’ every claim about the impossibility of such an exercise, and is now left looking stupid and kicked in the teeth following the government U-turn? Yes it could.


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14 Responses to And the U-turn du jour is…

  1. Ho! Ho! Ho! says:

    What a farce! Is there any major issue this load of clowns hasn’t backed down on? “Henry the Horse” is even more of a plonker than “Bowtie” or “The Crop-Haired One”. Why doesn’t Beijing give up on this farce of having “locally-elected” CE and just send someone from Beijing – they couldn’t do any worse than this lot!

  2. Mary Hinge says:

    Wang Guangya, come back! Come back and pollute our well water with your river water! Come back and have another egg tart … and then tell us what drugs you put into our government’s coffee. They’ve gone to pot (perhaps literally) since you left.

  3. Real Tax Payer says:

    There’s a classic Harry’s view cartoon in today’s SCMP with weasel Lam sitting in a car with H the horse. Says Lam to the Henry ” After two U-turns, surely we must be heading in our original direction? ” . Says the horse : ” Ssh ! We’re hoping no-one notices that” 🙂
    There was an even better cartoon on Sunday which I forgot to download, to the effect that Donald lame duck is caught saying words to the effect that the govt will pretend to consult the public on ( whatever issue ) and then ” carry on doing what the govt always intended to so… as usual” .

    I don’t think it has yet occurred to Donald that the main cause of the anger today is exactly the same as it was in 2003. At that time the real issue was not so much that it was a “bad law” ( Article 23 ) but that it was ” BAD* LAW-MAKING” . Which is why Queen R at least had the decency to resign ( and full credit to her for doing so)

    *just noticed that BAD spelled backwards = DAB

    Now it’s not so much that it’s even worse laws and even worse policies than in 2003, and on issues far less ‘vital’ to BJ than Article 23 but much more important to those of us who live in HK : things like our air pollution, selling off govt hill, the harbor, collusion with the property tycoons, and even how we spend our own tax money. But what really angers people today is how totally incompetent the govt has become . They seem to have just given up thinking altogether. It’s simply BAD GOVERNANCE

    Guess Donald cannot allow any of his top weasels to resign this time, because they would all have to do so en mass , and then he would also have to resign himself .

    WANTED : A new CE for the HK SAR. Good salary and free accommodation. No requirement to take responsibility for failure .
    Taste in good wine and skillful brown-nosing considered an advantage . Applicants with any degree of intelligence commonsense, conscience or morality are advised not to apply.
    And based on the past 2 incumbents: no previous experience required.

    Well : That would give Hemlock a sporting chance ! And he would do a much better job (couldn’t do much worse)

  4. Maugrim says:

    The proposed change to the existing law is based purely on spite. What a pity that Tsang himself wasn’t there to announce the u-turn. The fact that they seek an extended waiting period is a cynical move that continues to disrespect not only all Hong Kongers but our belief in the rule of law.

    One thing I don’t get is that for a race that lives so much by the concept of ‘face’, this lot are pretty good at losing it, mostly via ‘free kicks’. Strange days indeed.

  5. Stephen says:

    Mr. Ho
    I think “locally selected after guidance from Beijing” would be more accurate and the next to be “locally selected after guidance from Beijing” is looking increasingly like Rita Fan and not the Horseman.

  6. Sadbuttrue says:

    Real Tax Payer: while I would certainly vote for Hemlock, not only do I not have a vote, but I also assume he does not have the exclusive Chinese citizenship required for the gig, which would make his candidacy about as constitutional as Stephen’s attempted gelding of HK’s few democratic members.

  7. Real Tax Payer says:

    Sadbuttrue : Yes you are correct on both counts, which is indeed sad but true. I was running away with wishful thinking…. Still, by 2017 I (hope I ) will have a vote, and by then I will have retired so I won’t even be paying any more taxes.

    Stephen : I sure do hope it’s Rita Fan. Even Queen R or CY would be a better choice than the horse. Can’t stand his cynical smiling face which almost invites disrespect .

  8. Bigot says:

    Real Tax Payer:
    I cannot agree more with your sad but true account of our plight!

  9. Spud says:

    If I knew better I would say Horse and his gang are being thrown to the lions to make them even more stupid so that the plebs cannot tolerate them anymore; thereby leaving the stage wide open for Rita to breeze in as the saviour with widespread public acceptance.

    Beijing deserves a lot more credit for their cunning hands-off approach, all they keep doing is giving these guys the rope and they take care of the rest by themselves.

  10. PropertyDeveloper says:

    H the H invariably stalls before words of more than one syllable before gamely crashing over them. Can you imagine him receiving heads of state?

    Loophole is one of those Orwellian words, like guideline, flexible or even villager, that mean the opposite, Lewis Carroll-ianly, of what they want to say.

  11. Sadbuttrue says:

    One more thing: Wong Yan-lung ALWAYS looks like that. A serene, unperturbed blandness, almost approaching a zen state. Someone here recently described Wong as a good man, but to me he is a cipher, presiding over a department just as malleable, compromised and inert as it was under his predecessor. He is set apart from some of his compadres because he stays out of the spotlight, doesn’t rock the boat and doesn’t suffer foot-in-mouth disease.

  12. Real tax payer says:

    How many U-turns must government make,
    Before we all call their bluff ?
    How many gaffs must ministers make,
    Before we all say “enough” ?
    How much more money must the government waste,
    Without doing what should be done?
    The answer my friend, is blowing in Beijing,
    The answer is blowing in Beijing

    I think we should be sincerely grateful to BJ for stepping in recently, as they did in 2003. It seems BJ is run by people with a lot more integrity – and certainly a lot more intelligence – than HK

    (I’m just hoping they hand H the H more rope …)

  13. Sadbuttrue says:

    Real tax payer!! No. They are simply more pragmatic.

  14. Real Tax Payer says:

    It just occurred to me that there used to be a tradition of naming roads after past governors : Des Voeux Road, May Road, Lugard Road etc. In later years this became walking trails : Maclehose and Wilson. Can’t think of anything named after Chris Patton, except maybe the through- train that never was. I think the only thing we could name after Tung would be a cul-de-sac : eg ” “Tung End” . But I’m waiting for a spendid new gap in the barrier down Hennessy Road where traffic going to Central can turn round and go back to Causeway bay called Donald’s U-Turn

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