It has been a weekend of death. Writer Christopher Hitchens is in Hell today. His finest moment was probably The Missionary Position, which combined contrarianism with extreme belligerence in shredding Mother Teresa of Calcutta – a figure hitherto compulsorily venerated as a humble and beautiful living god surpassing even Saint Di. He skewered religion in general and played a key part in the Internet-driven increase in the acceptability of atheism in the US following 9-11, the Catholic child rape cover-ups and the fundamentalist anti-science phenomenon. Fans who have never heard it might enjoy his radio interview with mouthy Bible freak Todd Friel (parts 1 and 2).
Also passing on was Vaclav Havel, another writer, who helped topple Communist rule in Eastern Europe while listening to Frank Zappa. Plus 650 to over 1,000 Filipinos whose names I don’t have perished during a tropical storm. We’re not certain whether they have ended up in Hell or not.
On a brighter note, we have a birth: Hong Kong’s fifth (sixth? seventh?) pro-democracy political party. Although it is called the Labour Party and could in theory grab some attention by pushing issues the masses care about like the cost of living or standard of housing, its members couldn’t resist launching the group by highlighting predictable and esoteric lost and forgotten causes summed up by the Standard as “a referendum law, a party law, abolition of the so-called legislation [there is none] based on Article 23 of the Basic Law and a vindication of all those involved in the Tiananmen Square democracy demonstrations of June 4, 1989.”
Founders include the redoubtable Cyd Ho, union leader Lee Cheuk-yan and academic social worker-type Fernando Cheung. This suggests that the group is positioning itself as the natural home for people who are too free-thinking to be in the Democratic Party, too earthy to fit into the Civic Party, not Trotskyite enough to be in the League of Social Democrats, not alert enough (like me) to instantly recall the names of the DP’s and LSD’s breakaway offshoots, and who have forgotten that the Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood still exists. “The government has to bow to the people’s power if we are united,” says Lee, apparently with no hint of irony. (People Power – that’s one of them.)
For a fine example of unity, we need look no further than the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment Etc of Hong Kong. Members have been told not to attend this afternoon’s election rally for ex-Chief Secretary Henry Tang. Chairman Tam Yiu-chung says it is ‘not appropriate at this stage’ to declare support for a Chief Executive candidate; in other words, Beijing has not officially told them who to back. Apparently, they are allowed to choose by themselves what to have for breakfast every day.
The Tang-for-CE event at the Convention and Exhibition Centre is not really aimed at the proletarian Communist front that is the DAB. It’s for the cream of capitalism-with-Hong-Kong-characteristics, with some top financiers plus a few of our ‘elite’ ex-bureaucrats, plus members of the Liberal Party (former member: H Tang) and its even slimier offshoot Economic Synergy. (I think that’s every party in town mentioned.)
Bank of East Asia boss David Li is doing the honours as the director of Henry’s ‘campaign office’. It is a nominal role, needless to say, but to the extent it requires experience, Li has it: he held the same title during the run-up to Donald Tsang’s ‘elections’ in 2005 and 2007.
Update: minor deity and Dear Leader Kim Jong-il has also departed. Cue mass crying on the streets of Pyongyang.