Slave labour revolt brings Mid-Levels to halt

The modern-day industrial relations problems of Krupp, the one-time exploiter of lice-ridden, starved slave labour in Nazi Germany, start to bite, as Hong Kong’s middle class have to resort to walking – walking! – down the hill to Central after part of the Mid-Levels Escalator grinds to a halt. We might as well move to Shatin if this goes on. On a brighter note, if it stopped functioning altogether, at least no tourists would clog it up.

This cut-off-your-nose-to-spite-your-face way of thinking is not entirely illogical. There comes a point where the influx of leisure travellers in the neighbourhood, waving their arms around wildly on crowded sidewalks and loudly expecting the Epsilons working in 7-Eleven to speak English and Mandarin, becomes too much to bear. Sacrificing the world’s most amazing bit of urban transport infrastructure would be a small price to pay for some peace and quiet. It could be the lesser of two evils.

Which brings us to today’s ruminations on the battle to be Hong Kong’s next Chief Executive: mild mannered, personable, rich-kid airhead Chief Secretary Henry Tang, or dynamic, thrusting, sly and sinister despot CY Leung?

China Daily carries a piece by Lingnan University’s Ho Lok-sang describing the qualities a successful CE (assuming we ever find such a thing) must have. Without wishing to sound opinionated, I think I can fairly say that the article is so unremittingly tedious and insipid that it will send most readers running to the archive of Financial Secretary John Tsang’s overseas speeches for some serious, intellectually stimulating substance. Ho and/or his editors are desperate not to express a preference for either presumed candidate, and the result is 700 words of ‘why bother?’

Over at the South China Morning Post, it’s time for yet another of Albert Cheng’s thrice-weekly space-fillers. Taipan’s loyalties are already well-known, and he has faced up to and incurred the (life-threatening) wrath of far more loathsome individuals than the Hong Kong Executive Council could ever throw at you. So he fearlessly lays down his cards and says that we would be better off going with… Henry Tang.

There follows much damning with barely discernable praise. Henry “has no obvious political achievements but… he wouldn’t give us the best, but… and we would carry on as usual.” Since ‘usual’ can only mean ‘the incompetence we’ve been putting up with for years now’, the alternative must be pretty bad.

But Taipan’s objections to CY are pretty so-so. The man is “cunning”; so are most people who get anywhere in life. “He is not running because he wants to do something for Hong Kong” – an accusation that demands better proof than “we don’t really understand his real motives.” Worst of all, “we can’t be sure whether he can deliver” on his promises. Unlike with all the other politicians on this planet.

Albert Cheng is of course a close buddy of Donald Tsang, and he therefore finds himself on the more outspoken, slightly roguish wing of the expansive pro-establishment (ie pro-Henry) camp, which sprawls across the spectrum of our self-styled elite from tycoons, to bureaucrats, to opportunistic sycophants to obedient Communist loyalists dutifully backing the British-trained, Catholic Sir Bow-Tie who represents everything they hated about the old colonial regime. You’d be surprised how many people think ‘we would just carry on as usual’ sounds really compelling. CY has friends in the power structure, too, but you’ve still got several fingers left on your second hand after you count them.

In the interests of balance, the SCMP will no doubt be looking for someone to write a column on why we would be better off with CY Leung as CE. It may take them a while.

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8 Responses to Slave labour revolt brings Mid-Levels to halt

  1. Joe Blow says:

    Did they ever find out who was behind the knife attack on Albert Cheng ?

    Would it be libelous if I said that the style of the attack has a strong whiff of Albert Yeung about it ?

  2. Revolution says:

    I learned a couple of things from the SCMP’s piece on Saturday about the CE candidates.

    First, it turns out that CY comes from a reasonably humble background. Like Don, he is the son of a policeman. He’s certainly not had everything handed to him on a plate like his rival.

    Second, Anthony Wu’s professed reasoning for supporting Henry is that he’s “lucky”. Another supporter suggested that God thinks he’s the best choice.

    I am starting to wonder whether Henry has any real qualifications for the job at all.

    Finally, if Stephen Lam really does replace the Horse after he quits, and Don suffers an unfortunate accident, won’t that make the Weasel Chief Executive? A frightening thought…

  3. Stephen says:

    The SCMP will probably ask Baz Cheung, URA supremo and creator of the K11 Building, a CY supporter and this will do CY no favours.

    However Peak resident, Taipan is wrong as the same old same old (incompetence) is not going to cut it for much longer. I don’t think The Horseman, ineptly supported by St. Stephen Lam, are even going to have a honeymoon period of public support.

    Authoritarian, calculating and cunning CY might be but he may turn out to be the boot this town needs. But of course that doesn’t matter one bit to the developers who decide the outcome on the orders of the CCP.

  4. maugrim says:

    It’s interesting, just after we have John Tsang failing to mention the one employment growth area for young people in HK, ie, real estate. We have others calling for a maintenance of the status quo. Its time HK’ers stood up and asked why.

  5. Real Tax Payer says:

    “It would be safe to assume he wouldn’t give us the best, but at least he wouldn’t give us the worst”

    Mmmmm………This argument sounds about as (non-)compelling as the advice which the manager of an Indian vegetarian restaurant owner gave me and my wife after having been invited there by our next-door neighbor hippy / veggie/ western friends for what was probably the worst-tasting and bland meal in my life.

    Said the manager ( in his thick Indian accent and seeing the general look of disgust on our faces as we finished the meal quickly and mostly uneaten to go and get some real food – and by then even MacDonald’s seemed an attractive option ) :

    “I cannot promise that what you have eaten will do you any good, but I can promise it will not do you any harm”

    Hey ho, hey ho, it’s down the drain we go, led by a lame duck, a horse and and a weasel.

    GO FOR IT CY !

  6. Morose says:

    Maugrim: I suspect the answer is pure, unadulterated self-interest. Who wants the value of their property to drop? Most of the people complaining about the property hegemony haven’t bought in. Or, if they have, their outgoings (inflated retail prices, decreasing availability of small local providers, rampaging commercial rents) still outweigh their investment. HKers en masse will not stand up and ask why on practically any issue until they personally are experiencing material discomfort.

    (Sorry for the excessive mid-week cynicism.)

  7. maugrim says:

    Morose, don’t be so sure. I was recently talking with a well known HK political figure who gave a speech straight out of Hemlock’s book. There is a lot of concern that a reason the post 80’s group (and others to come) are so pissed off is that life in HK can be pointless if its a low paying job for a rabbit hutch you can never afford. Steam be building.

  8. Morose says:

    Maugrim, I hope you’re right.

    In the meantime, an angry mob is gathering outside the High Court which has just ruled that the Basic Law applies to foreign domestic helpers just as it would to any other HK resident.

    We deserve better, eh?

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