Nostalgia corner

Mention of barrister and Civic Party member Gladys Li – Gladys Veronica Li, I should say – brings back memories of a brief moment of amusement during the ‘election’ for Hong Kong’s first Chief Executive in late 1996.

It had been clear for some time that the Big Lychee’s first post-colonial leader was going to be shipping heir Tung Chee-hwa, who had mysteriously appeared in Governor Chris Patten’s Executive Council several years earlier. For some reason, though, the Chinese government decided that the mock election should have not just one, not just two, but several candidates for the 400 hand-picked voters to pretend to choose from. As well as Tung,  former Chief Justice TL Yiang, tycoon Peter Woo of Wheelock/Warf Holdings and senior judge Simon Li – Gladys’s father – put themselves forward, as did several deranged or naïve no-hopers who walked in off the street.

Woo, with his sort of playboy-fascist image, presumably put himself forward to register an interest in getting the top job sometime in the future, an ambition he mercifully seems to have since dropped. The austere Yiang’s decision to take part may have been similar, or maybe the Chinese government prodded him into it to discourage Woo from thinking he was the sole alternative. (Pure guesswork: if I ever heard why he did it, I’ve forgotten.)

Formerly ‘Sir TL’, Yiang (who made his first-ever MTR ride as part of his campaign) had made a rather sudden conversion from what was commonly called ‘British Hong Kong’ to ‘Chinese’. He was joined in this by, among many others, Simon Li, part of the almost Anglo-Hong Kong Li dynasty of Bank of East Asia fame. At one point in the proceedings Li went on about how proud he was of his nationality. And then daughter Gladys, when asked by the media how she felt, delivered the gloriously off-message response: “I’m not Chinese, I’m British.”

Li, who always had the feel of a joke candidate, failed to get the 50 nominations necessary to get on the ballot. Tung of course won a landslide, and Woo came a miserable third with less than 10% of the, no-doubt carefully rigged, vote.

As well as the frightfully English ‘Veronica’, Gladys Li also sports those delightful big round spectacles straight out of a 1950s black-and-white British movie. She also penned an interesting guide to treason, no less. And, of course, in the bulldog-like manner of any good Brit eccentric with a cause, she now wrecks her party’s electoral chances in November’s district polls by choosing this moment to push the foreign maids’ permanent residency issue. (She is the ‘Lee Chi-hei’ in the China Daily/Ming Pao editorial denying – cynics would say confirming – that the skewering of the Civic Party by its enemies was planned and coordinated by higher powers.)


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9 Responses to Nostalgia corner

  1. Joe Blow says:

    whatever happened to that delightful Veronica Yip ?

  2. Real Tax Payer says:

    HK is a pretty sophisticated society with a very large, well-educated middle class and a (sometimes very) efficient civil service that is probably one of the most corruption-free in the world. HK is also one of the world’s safest cities ( no London yobbo riots here !) and we have a relatively high standard of living by international standards.

    But if the best we can do at rearing political leaders with vision, intellect, integrity and guts is the kind of dumbos that stood in 1997 , and kind of childish mud-slinging so-called political party leaders who we see in the news these days , I am beginning to think that BJ was correct not to let us elect our own CE so far.

  3. Golden Bear says:

    And has the weekend been officially opened? am getting thirsty…

  4. Saikungbob says:

    Come on, RTP, what’s this about HK being free of corruption. Sure, we are free of the low level corruption where you have to bribe petty officials for small favors, but we are plagued by massive high-level corruption. I can’t see any other way to characterize the collusion between the government and the property developers that screws the majority of us on a daily basis.

    Then add your second paragraph and I begin to wonder if you’re one of those “Akers-Jones” Brits.

  5. Stephen says:


    “I am beginning to think that BJ was correct not to let us elect our own CE so far” Wrong.

    If free and fair elections had been held since 2007 (or earlier), Hong Kong would not be in the mess we are now. Smart political talent exists – Christine Lo perhaps ?

    But because of this system we’ve ineffective CE’s and legislators (most) with zero political savy and ability. Hence electors throw a few joke legislators into the mix (Mad Dog and Long Hair) which they would not do if our Politicians were able to do the job which Politicians are supposed to do. What the Functionals throw into the mix is largely excretable.

    But fear not as Beijing has no intention of allowing free and fair elections and are quite happy to let the tycoons stiff it to Hong Kong just as long as they support the CCP’s dictatorship rule in China.

  6. Real Tax Payer says:

    Saikungbob : I was referring to the overt side of corruption ( money in the back of police cars etc) As regards the covert side, yes we have the tycoon-govt collusion which I hate ( and suffer from ) as much as any.

    And even the ICAC does not dare to look too deeply there

    But when you see what goes in the USA ( huge tax breaks for big business and a lot worse), UK ( Cameron-employs-ex-Murdoch-staff) and the fact that in dead-straight Germany politicians can earn enormous fees acting as directors for big corporations, not to mention Japan. Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia etc where high-level corruption is a govt -sanctioned institution, maybe K.S Li’s horns don’t look so sharp after all

    It’s the same the whole world over : ” to him that hath shall more be given; whereas him that hath not, even what he does have shall be taken away”

  7. Real Tax Payer says:

    Saikungbob ( and ALL) :

    Just for the record , I did once pursue what I am dead certain was a property developer ( PD) – collusion-scam- corruption case, fed by a “deep throat” within govt who was outraged at what was going on , and fed me all the dirty links via the freedom of information act . Man… was their DIRT ! REAL DIRT !

    I first went to the Ombudsman, who declared ” no case to answer” (although when I later met said at-that-time-incumbent Ombudsman over cocktails after his retirement he admitted that I had some pretty deep DEEP sources in govt)

    Next I went to the ICAC with files a pile high , but they also found “no case to answer”

    All this took me months of work … I do mean MAN-MONTHS TIME.

    Finally, when the whole thing failed to break even a chink in the PD-Govt collusion armor , and I reported back to my deep throat he said ” not suprised, but thanks for trying. Even the ICAC don’t dare to tread on those paths”

    (So…. when will we hear what happened at 39 Conduit Road ?)

    Hope I made my point that I am adamently against the PD-Govt collusion scam, even though I must admit that the newly reformed Park n Shop / Fusion layouts are superb and I shop there with delight , albeit expensively ( still cheaper than Olivers).

    But then, I read the latest news about the UK riots ( and just hot off the press – riots in Guizhou/ China) , and thank my lucky stars that HK has never descended to that level.

    And why ? Because the native Chinese overwhelming majority, into whom I am married , are more than clever enough to see a good thing when they see it, and to live in HK is still the icon for every Mainlander , and rightly so.

    Ah……… if only we can do better at managing ourselves.

    Donald ( bless his cotton socks and absurd bow-tie) is but a pawn in the game, and I’m sure he’s doing his best. Problem is, his best is just not good enough

    So who will lead HK post 2017 ?

    I do hope we can raise a true native leader by then . If one arises I will do everything in my ( very limited) power to support him/her .

  8. PropertyDeveloper says:

    Whereas Hemlock lists the sponsor of the infamous ad as the Liberal Party, the China Daily webpage, which does not mention any permission to use the piece from Ming Pao, claims it’s the “Democratic Party”…

  9. Joe Blow says:

    HK has a ‘freedom of information act’ ?

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