In all fairness, it’s Beijing that put him there

A man who believed he was committing an act of the greatest glory, destined to go down in history for his virtue, instead finds himself condemned to be known forever after, by the few who care, as the Underpants Bomber. (The genteel, easily shocked Victorians of the American media tend to grace him with the slightly less ludicrous ‘Underwear’, but you can still see his fellow convicts smirking on his rare excursions out of solitary.)

In Hong Kong, we have another example of someone who had hopes of making a great impression on our collective memory but will instead fade away in our minds as yet another incompetent buffoon. By his standards, Chief Executive Donald Tsang’s 2011-12 Policy Address – with the belief-straining title of From Strength to Strength – was pretty gutsy. Where his previous efforts reflected an assumption that nothing was wrong and so nothing needed doing, this one actually has some modest but real ideas, like, um, an international cookery school. But that’s it.

As usual, he scatters cash around in the familiar attempt to soothe the bureaucratic conscience about presiding over an economic structure that forces the poor and middle class to divert much of their income into the pockets of half a dozen property tycoons’ cartels. The elderly, who whine more than most folk who imagine that Hong Kong exists for its residents’ benefit, will get flat-rate HK$2 mass transit fares and cheap dips in the swimming pool.

After several years of denying that property affordability could be a problem, and the priority was something called a ‘healthy’ housing market, the government is giving in and resurrecting a small-scale scheme to sell subsidized homes. It is essentially symbolic, but people keen to time the next big property crash should mark 2016 – when the new apartments come on stream – in their diaries.

Last Saturday, Donald promised that he would roll out unconventional, non-traditional policies. What happened to them? Perhaps there were going to be some, but they got pulled at the last minute. Or maybe he thinks this slightly less-flaccid-than-usual package of measures contains some heady radicalism. In which case, where is it?

One proposal that has set off a bit of mouth-frothing is the plan to let the lucky winners of the Home Ownership Scheme Lottery keep more of any increase in their properties’ value when they eventually sell, rather than pay it back to the government. The idea is to help the buyers trade up to properly overpriced private-sector apartments further down the line. Sounds like one big yawn to me. (Now if he had said he would scrap Land Premiums and introduce an annual land tax…)

Another theoretically far-reaching shift in policy – though nothing to do with land – is the plan to subsidize a handful of electric vehicles for the bus companies to help clean the air. This isn’t unprecedented; the taxpayer shelled out big bucks to convert diesel taxis to LPG years ago. But civil servants break out in hives at any suggestion that ‘their’ vast pile of cash be used to pay companies to clean up. It can’t be beyond the wit of officials to devise a way to subsidize clean buses without putting public cash into private pockets. It’s not as if the money isn’t there. They just like poisonous air; it’s a sign of ‘development’.

Scraping the bottom of the Policy Address barrel, and still no sign of that unconventional, non-traditional policy we were promised. It could just be a mark of Donald’s extreme inflexibility and aversion to imagination that he thinks his last annual address really does contain major departures in governance.

Or maybe it’s the swimming pool thing. Must be. First time since 1842, after all.

Click to hear ‘Sad Born Loser’ by Yesterday’s Children!


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17 Responses to In all fairness, it’s Beijing that put him there

  1. maugrim says:

    A theory I heard recently was that both Tsang and Tang are safe. While being dullards, its people like CY who are actually smart enough to do nasty things that we should worry about. Worth pondering over despite the fact that I think that having Tsang and Tang as CEO’s is an insult to all HK’ers and the collective talent we truly possess.

  2. Believer says:

    Good nights sleep required to suffer thru 40 degrees blaring spotlights..
    no prob for Sir Bow Tie.. his conscience is clear.. and he compliments the media for their professionalism in not disturbing his morning communication with his guiding light.

  3. Real Tax Payer says:

    There was an interesting op-ed in yesterday’s SCMP that asked why HK’s middle- class is now so pushy on reform . democracy etc. instead of meekly lying down and taking what’s doled out to them as in the past. Good question. Donald Duck et al have completely mis-read the true feeling of HK’s pulse these past 5 years. Guess that comes from being a beaurcract and not a politician. No sense of smell and certianly balls ( actually male do make ducks have balls?)

    Speaking of no balls, a certain tycoon, whom I find particularly offensive, has apparently sired a son who has no balls ( at least not working ones). The police have closed the file on searching for his son’s missing balls, but what about the year-open police file into the GREAT MYSTERY ( aka CON-TRICK) OF 39 CONDUIT ROAD ? Has that been quietly closed as well ? If so, our police have no balls either.

    I did read that consultation paper Hemlock kindly gave the link to on monday and it really did amaze me what crimes the property tycoons have been allowed to get away with in the past.

    Pity that the proposed new legislation (aka “kick the tycoons where it really hurts” ) did not make it to Donald’s final duck-out speech.

    Apologies to all female readers

  4. Vile says:

    More old people on trains, going round and round all day soaking up the aircon? I was hoping there would be some kind of curfew at least (I know introducing “renewal” at age 30 was too much to hope for).

  5. Joe Blow says:

    I cannot wait to see the last of this pompous, vainglorious little man.

    @RTP: Donald’s brother-the-police-commissioner went to work for Sino Land upon retirement. You cannot expect our present police commissioner (thankfully I forgot his name) to jeopardize his “golden retirement years’ by upsetting property tycoons.

  6. Believer says:

    From strength to strength, Characters “continue go open and coming” better translation and play on words are welcome.

  7. maugrim says:

    RTP the male is a drake, ducks are female. hence Donald Duck is a hermaphrodite of some sorts.

  8. S Yau says:

    I think brother-the-police-commission went to New World.

  9. Walter De Havilland says:

    @Joe Blow … at least check the facts before commenting. Donald’s brother works for New World Holdings.

  10. Stephen says:

    Career bureaucrat Sir Donald Tsang GBM etc ad nauseum has been an unmitigated shambles of a leader. He looks so helplessly out of his depth and unable to comprehend the ticking timebomb of a society becoming increasingly polarised which will turn nasty when the economy heads south.

    Think it was The Who, who sang, “Meet the new boss same as the old boss” which will be exactly what will happen when China, bottles it, and appoints Henry the Horse (you too can be as rich as Li Ka Shing) as the next CE with his weasel side kick.

    Even Graduates of the International Cookery School will be hampered with sky high rents for their future restaurants as the HK Establishment continues to worship our robber barons aka property cartels.

  11. Real Tax Payer says:

    @ Joe Blow

    I forgot about that little snippet . Thanks

    New World or Sino : all the same nasty clique

    But I feel somewhat sad about Don the Drake* He probably has no idea how badly history will judge him in a few decades when the 2000’s history is finally carved in stone. He meant well, but when it came to actually “getting the job done” he failed miserably . Same as ole’ Tung.

    I’m beginning to think Patton was not so bad after all , just as I’m beginning to like some of Queen Regina’s op-eds. Now THAT’s something I must get under control PDQ.

    Message to self : “MUST remember all politicians are self-serving incompetents. Remember GW Bush in case you ever doubt it ”

    * If male ducks are drakes, then why do I always think of the Mickey Mouse cartoon Donald Duck as a guy ? Methinks I should sue Disney for confusing my gender awareness al these years

  12. Real Tax Payer says:


    “Then in the chamber, it came as no surprise that League of Social Democrats lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung yelled at the chief executive.

    But this time “Long Hair” did not throw anything. Instead he caused a surprise by releasing a balloon with a banner stating: “Bowtie ruins Hong Kong, collusion between government and businessmen.”

    No one could stop the balloon and it floated close to the chamber’s ceiling throughout Tsang’s speech.

    After being expelled, Leung explained that the rise of the balloon was meant to signify that “public voices cannot be silenced.” ”


    I’m beginning even to like Long-Hair …. Now I surely MUST be going round the bend

  13. Bigot says:

    Guess which gravy train BT would land next? Anyone?

  14. Walter De Havilland says:

    @Real Tax Player. Yep, I suppose you are right, the facts are not important. Let’s just distort them like the cartels. I’m sure that will work.

  15. Big Al says:

    “Long Hair” for CE (Chief Entertainer). He’d get my vote, if I had one …

  16. isomoliu says:

    I’m already cringing at the thought of Henry Tang as CE mangling his LTT. Missing Bowtie already. Everything is relative.

  17. Real Tax Payer says:

    From monday’s SCMP it seems CY is on a winning streak, just like the Kiwis last night ( what a match !)

    Hope this puts a fire up a few ass holes…..

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