One person is enjoying himself right now, while a lot of others are enduring anguish.
The happy man is Executive Council ‘Convenor’ CY Leung, who is wading into the election race for Hong Kong’s next Chief Executive as if there really will be a race and an election. He knows as well as anyone that the result is determined in advance in Beijing, but he just can’t refuse the opportunity to at least appear to be in the running. As a loyal patriot since his teen days in the 1970s before it was even fashionable, and who has publicly hankered after leading his home town since at least the mid-90s, this is his chance.
He presumably detects a microscopic possibility that Beijing’s anointed one, Chief Secretary Henry Tang, will goof up so badly in the short term and provoke so much public hostility that the powers that be will make a last-minute U-turn and choose CY instead. More realistically, he probably foresees Henry in office displaying the worst incompetence and cluelessness of our first two Chief Executives combined, opening the way for some CY-style reformist populism in 2017.
Why didn’t the Central Government’s Liaison Office, which usually micromanages this sort of thing behind the scenes, talk CY out of taking part? Leung pre-empted them a good couple of years ago when he started making it slowly but increasingly clear that he would try for the job. As Leung has no doubt explained to them, to arm-twist him off the stage now would bring the CE ‘election’ charade into even more disrepute; conversely, letting him take part makes the whole process look at least superficially more legitimate. (Around 80% of the 1,200 members of the Election Committee will vote as directed by Beijing’s local representatives. It will involve a bit more phoning around than usual, but the Liaison Office can easily contrive an outcome whereby CY comes, say, a respectable second. Or Santa Claus wins, etc.)
The people who are currently suffering are the loyal shoe-shiners of the pro-Beijing camp who still can’t be totally sure who they are supposed to support. A brave few have hinted at a preference, but most of them are waking up at night in a cold sweat after dreaming that they expressed approval of A and then found the Communist Party leadership decided on B. The fear of not being seen to say the Right Thing is hard for the 95% of us who live on Planet Pluralism to understand. There was a time when the dictatorship of the proletariat made people kneel on broken glass if they failed to voice the right opinion; now, the unspoken threat is unspecified trouble for your Mainland business interests.
For one clue about why CY Leung can be rated a 10-1 outsider, let’s look at a little aside in today’s Standard story on him:
…he drew flak for backing the administration’s idea for the supply of at least 85,000 public and private flats every year – an aim announced by the SAR’s first chief executive, Tung Chee- hwa, in his opening policy address.
The target was widely blamed for a slump in property prices in the following years…
This is a guy who imagines that affordable homes are a good thing – that families and the economy will benefit if people have more money left over to spend on other things after paying their housing bills. A total weirdo, clearly.
Apparantly, Albert Ho will be the Democrat’s ‘candidate’
what is a convenor (rhymes with wiener) ?
The sad thing is that given a Beijing anointed one must win regardless then it is a shame that CY isn’t allowed to win. At least he appears to have some grey matter between his ears albeit tainted with command economy ideas.
Anyway, just sit back, watch and enjoy as the fixers try to ensure that CY at least beats the democratic candidate (i.e has to have 25%+ of the vote) whilst ensuring that Henry the Horse receives a greater than 50% majority mandate. This is surely the reason why we could not have 3 pro-Beijing candidates running?
It is my (forlorn) hope that Albert and his merry band of pro-democrats will realise it would be far more productive throwing their 100+ votes behind either The Horse or Sinister CY rather than offering themselves up as the sacrificial lamb.
Do it in exchange for concessions on the future pace of democracy (guarantee to abolish FC’s at a certain date) or a livelihood issue of your choice.
Both candidates believe in the divine right of the CCP to rule China forever (CY is even a card carrying party member) so it comes down to competance and broad public acceptability. So i score it a dead heat.
Go for it CY !
I hope you get a chance to debate Henry live on TV and that you pulverize him to dust
Actually I have two theories as to why CY is running ( and looking as if he will enjoy the race from his big smile, which no longer looks so creepy)
1. He plans to run for serious in 2017, and is just treating this as a practice run. Besides which all the terrible things he will soon start warning us about if Henry wins will certainly all come true , so he will have the satisfaction of telling us ( and BJ) ” I told you so” in 2017.
If there’s one thing that’s predictable apart from the fact that Henry will win, it’s surely that he will goof up big-time.
2. As Harry so aptly wrote in today’s SCMP cartoon, he’s only running so he does not have to vote for Henry
BTW : Yes old Tung did boost the supply of public and private flats , and yes we did have a massive housing slump. But did the increased supply really cause the slump, or was it basically a delayed effect of the Asian economic crisis and the dot-com boom/bust? I am beginning to suspect the latter.
Interestingly it was CY who got the chance to speak a bit on CCTV last night. Henry just got a flash-by shot. Beijing sending signals to keep him on his toes maybe?
Hemmers, do I detect a slight undertone of fear that CY’s candidacy may in fact make this election slightly less predictable than you said in your Time Out piece and have continued to insist since? In breaking news, CY flew to Beijing yesterday immediately after resigning his Exco post and returned this morning, and “did not meet with mainland officials”!!
No, not a weirdo. Just an inveterate authoritarian. Next magazine ran a piece last week on how he has destroyed City University. How can he run HK if he can’t even run City University?
Iffy : I would not trust everything Next magaizine prints
And Henry + the duck have already ( almost) destroyed HK
RTP: the source on the Beijing trip (which I should have mentioned) was RTHK.
The joke may yet be on those who dismiss his chances.
@ See Why
What was the story at City U, please?