Primaries begin, worlds apart

The Iowa caucuses are underway. Rick Santorum declares that his fellow Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul is ‘disgusting’. Paul is a Libertarian with past links to wacky far-right Christian reconstructionism – the belief that fundamentalists should infiltrate and take over government – and racist newsletters published in his name. Santorum is a cookie-cutter fundamentalist-conservative who has a problem with the idea of evolution and gets so worked up about homosexuals that you have to wonder if he secretly fears he is one – and has tragically if hilariously had his name hijacked for other purposes as a result. Both, in short, are freaks, though by the standards of fellow candidates like Michele Bachman or Herman Cain, they are arguably below-average ones. The nearest thing to a normal human being in the Republican line-up is a Mormon who was Ambassador to Beijing, and he is trailing the field.

Much to the consternation of our local Chinese officials, who get the heebie-jeebies about polls they aren’t rigging, Hong Kong is to see a primary election of its own on Sunday. It promises to be an embarrassing non-event, attracting a few tens of thousands to makeshift polling stations set up around MTR stations to take part in a play-acting exercise to choose a pan-democrat candidate for a similarly play-acting Chief Executive election in March. The irony being, of course, that the former play-acting camp denounce the latter.

The two contenders, Albert Ho of the Democratic Party and Frederick Fung of the ‘moderate’ (ie, insipid) Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood, had a debate last night. Neither called the other disgusting. The other main contrast with the Americans is in the charisma department: neither Ho nor Fung has much of the magic ingredient. People have at least heard of Ho before, so he will no doubt be the pro-democrats’ make-believe candidate in the make-believe election – but taking part in the all-too-real and potentially highly amusing TV debate with, barring an act of God beyond Tamar, Henry Tang.

Ho called at one point for a declaration of war on the hegemony of property developers. Many of us, if debating Ho on that point, would dismiss him as a turncoat weakling softy and insist that we should just lynch the bastards now without warning. But the ADLP is the ‘acceptable’ pro-democratic group, acknowledged by Beijing at times when all other pan-dems have been shut out as anti-patriotic Western stooges. Fung disagreed with Ho on the grounds that he preferred not to aggravate hatred in society. We want reasonable moderation and moderate reasonableness, and we want it now.

Mostly, Ho went on about the Holy Cause. Like most of the pro-dems (other than Long-Hair-style radicals who reject participation in the CE quasi-election) his obsession is universal suffrage. Just as the Evangelicals of Iowa want to hear that raped women should be forced to have their babies or schools should teach the Bible rather than biology, so Hongkongers want to hear that the property market is a cartelized pyramid scheme and the electricity companies rip us off. Timetables for phasing out functional constituencies just don’t do it.

With 22% of votes counted, the latest is that Rick Santorum, Ron Paul and the other Mormon, Mitt Romney, are neck-and-neck.

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13 Responses to Primaries begin, worlds apart

  1. Probably says:

    Surely US elections are an example of why universal sufferage should never be allowed.

    Where else in the world would large numbers of people vote for candidates who think that the Flintstones is a documentary?

  2. Gerald says:

    “Sufferage”? Shurely shome mishtake?

  3. stephen says:

    There are similarities between the absolute hopelessness of democrats Freddy Fung and Al Ho of being “selected” as CE and hopelessness of the Republicans in their belief that they can beat incumbent Barack Obama with Mitt Romney. Wrong candidate, wrong issues etc. However as least Mitt is in with a fair shake of making a decent showing unlike Freddy and Al.

    What I cannot grasp about the latter is why they don’t say to CY Leung – Here’s our 200 votes so you win nomination however we want you too – and then negotiate a sensible shopping list of which the scrapping of the FC’s is right at the top.

    It then raises this into the debate and forces The moronic Horseman and the Establishment (Pigs in the trough) on the defensive over the issue.

    Are Freddy and Al so naive as to think this is not what China has up its sleeve come the realisation of their nirvana of universal suffrage in 2017 ?

  4. Jason90 says:

    Well it is lunchtime…

  5. Mary Hinge says:

    Albert Ho. What a fine figure of a man. Such charisma. Surpassed only in the world of politics by the Rt. Hon. Tub of Lard MP:

  6. maugrim says:

    Stephen, one suspects there is a certain amount of narcissism involved with the Dems. Speaking of which, perky/quirky Tanya Chan was on TV last night. Gone are the goofy specs and plain jane haircut, she now looks like an operator of a funky boutique. Watching Leong skewer Tsang was a delight. Somehow Ho versus Tsang will be like watching Jabba the Hutt versus Jar Jar Binks.

  7. Dr. Ruth says:

    There is no way the Pan Dems and CY Leung can openly cut a deal. Beijing’s attitude toward Leung would immediately turn ice cold in public, and they would work through any and all channels to destroy his reputation if he were seen to be collaborating with the democrats. Maybe in the end the Pan Dems will give Leung their votes, but advertising it ahead of time would doom Leung.

  8. Stephen says:

    @Dr. Ruth

    CY Leung is firmly in the (so called) pro-Beijing camp and is as much their guy as The Horseman. The difference is the Horseman is the establishments guy as he will carry on with the same old same old so the usual suspects can continue feeding at the trough.

    Agreed any deal cut would have to be quietly agreed on by Beijing. Personally I think the man (CY) is no democrat but maybe will agree to some of the pan democrats wants on housing and livelyhood issues.

    Beijing has shown it is willing to do deal with the Pan Democrats before – Donald’s disasterous 2012 election proposals for instance.

    So to sum up time for Al and Freddy et al to drop the universal suffrage (it ain’t going to happen) and go for tycoons, collusion, housing prices etc. Sell it to Beijing as stability because if the Horseman wins (as is expected) and the economy goes south we could see another 1 July 2003 and frankly the long face and insane grin isn’t going to pacify many.

  9. Brigham Old says:

    What does Odell say about his fellow Mormons?

  10. Walter De Havilland says:

    The Pan Democratics are so disorganized and engaged in so much infighting the old boys in Beijing just need to sit back watching them self destruct. No wasted time and energy on a ‘united front’ is needed.

  11. Real Tax Payer says:

    This is my second attempt to post what I think is one of THE most revealing op-eds these past few days

    Not sure if Hemmers deleted the last attempt to post or whether it just did not go through

    Put me firmly on the ANTITHESIS side : it’s not often that a country with 1/4 of the world’s population hoists itself up by its own bootstraps

    Would you choose to live in India, South America, or ANYWHERE in Africa these days – rather than Mainland China ?


    Is China’s glass half empty or half full?
    Alex Lo
    Jan 04, 2012

    Thesis: China is a ruthless dictatorship that denies its people their basic rights, jails and tortures its critics, destroys its natural environment, rewrites history, manipulates its currency and global trade rules and bullies neighbouring states. Corruption exists at almost every level of officialdom. Misallocation of resources has made the wealth gap, as measured by the Gini coefficient, one of the worst in the world. Immorality prevails throughout society, leading to poisoned milk and tainted food, fake goods and dangerously defective consumer products.

    Antithesis: China is led by a highly competent central government whose officials are capable of devising advanced economic and social policies that have transformed a poor nation into the world’s second-largest economy in a single generation. They have reversed five centuries of national decline, lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, and offered the younger, urban generation education, personal freedom and economic opportunities of which their parents and ancestors could only dream.

    Is it schizophrenic to believe in both propositions? When I think of the first, I am glad I am a Hong Kong person. When I entertain the second, I am proud to be a Chinese citizen. I would not be able to complete a national identity survey devised by local pollsters like Robert Chung Ting-yiu.

    Many people subscribe to one or the other position, and the more you argue with them, the more hardened they seem to be and the more certain of their beliefs. Their certainty is admirable, if questionable.

    When we read about brave souls like Ni Yulan , Gao Zhisheng and Liu Xiaobo who dare to challenge the powerful Chinese state, we are silenced by awe and admiration. But this does not mean the causes they represent necessarily offer a better destiny for the Chinese people than the one envisioned by the state leaders. Or maybe they do?

    [email protected]

  12. Real Tax Payer says:

    Thanks , Hemmers

  13. Walter De Havilland says:

    @RTP I agree that China’s achievements are outstanding and the leadership has a clear strategic vision. I just wish they would be more confident on the world stage and not see everything through the distorted prism of Chinese subjugation. Moreover, their harsh treatment of internal critics is a stain on their record. Once Chinese society is more open and confident of its true achievements, then the people can truly stand tall.

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