Make a note in your diary: November 27 – the day former Executive Council convenor CY Leung will officially declare himself to be a candidate for Chief Executive of Hong Kong. He rushed out the announcement yesterday just as former Chief Secretary Henry Tang was holding a press conference to state that he would declare his candidacy by the end of the month. For the record, November 27 is also the day that I will announce my intention to have my annual dental check-up early next year. Oh, and it’s Bruce Lee’s birthday. (And Jimi Hendrix’s.)
The conventional wisdom is that both men’s reluctance to state a simple fact directly is due to the Electoral Affairs Commission’s clumsy campaign regulations, which seem to be drafted by the same people who write the epic lists of rules on what you can and cannot do in a public park. They will have less leeway after they genuinely, officially, really-mean-it-now say they are running. But there is almost certainly more to it than that. Rita Fan, in her months-long will-I-won’t-I drama, clung to the same insistence on ambiguity, and Regina Ip is also doing it.
Everyone is waiting for The Sign. No-one knows what to say or do until Beijing gives them a hint. Following a process of elimination, it is unthinkable that the next CE is not going to be Henry, but there is still no positive proof it will be him. CY doesn’t know whether he will be allowed to play the role of good runner-up (better luck next time) or required to withdraw to maintain pro-establishment unity. With a few bold exceptions, the pro-Beijing figures who will sit on the rubber-stamp Election Committee and pretend to elect the CE next March refuse to express a preference between the two men. They say they want to examine the respective platforms, but the truth is Beijing hasn’t told them what to think. Everyone is helpless, flapping around, waiting to hear what to do. It’s quite amusing in a pitiful sort of way.
Anyway, the really important thing is this: how many women did Henry screw around with and for how long (and where, and when, and did she moan, etc) and is there an illegitimate kid somewhere out there as a result? Henry isn’t doing a bad job of gliding over the prurient media baiting with his apologetic ‘Aw, gee, shucks, you know me, I’m just a dumbass’ routine. It’s not a crime to be a bit dim.
What is unforgiveable, however, is being the sort of loser who was sitting on HK$300 million worth of his company’s stock and watched it shrivel away into nothing. That’s the subtext of a Sing Tao/East Week/Standard feature describing the self-made CY’s business misfortunes in a tone of mock-sympathy. Sing Tao group boss Charles Ho is, like Henry, a fully paid-up member of the inherited wealth club with apparently few doubts about how everything will work out after all the ritual equivocation is over.