Guided democracy and the rise of mind-numbing non-scandals

Readers of page 2 of the South China Morning Post’s City section are greeted with a strange quarter-page notice declaring simply ‘Jesus Christ, Son Ahman’. It would have been placed, it seems, by faithful followers of imprisoned polygamist sect leader (or creepo pedophile incest wacko with 50 wives, if you prefer) Warren Jeffs. ‘Ahman’ is a Mormon word, ascribed to Adam, for God. Apparently. The poor old SCMP is obviously desperate for advertising revenue.

Still, without that we wouldn’t get any news, and with no news, we wouldn’t learn that Chief Executive candidate CY Leung doesn’t blame the Hong Kong government for its part in the clumsy and feeble smear campaign designed to boost his uninspiring rival, rich-kid Henry Tang. Of course, we all know that the government isn’t biased, because it issued a defensive press release saying that its press releases contain nothing but the facts. (Oh for an administration with the wit to bedazzle us with a statement that its press releases always lie!)

The Standard’s front page has photos of five figures: the CE candidates, plus a pair of young orangutans – no doubt the editor’s silent protest that he is equally unimpressed by all three humans. Brought to you by the same Sing Tao group that previously exposed CY Leung’s supposed financial problems, the paper stresses the government’s even-handedness and gleefully laments CY’s predicament. In fairness, it gives CY’s side of the ‘conflict of interest’ affair, leaving any readers who make it that far awake struggling to find traces of the smoke, let alone the fire.

To put this in context, let’s recall the District Council elections last November, when hundreds of voters gave false addresses in order to augment the pro-Beijing vote in several neighbourhoods. The scale of the vote-rigging required organization, and that can only have been provided ultimately by proxies for the Chinese government. Now the same people present us with ‘dirty hands’ CY Leung versus ‘Mr Clean’ Henry Tang – an interestingly mild smear job, intended to bruise rather than scar. CY, with 2017 in mind, plays along. Beijing has said that public approval is one of the requirements to be CE, and this is how they will improve Henry’s weak position in the opinion polls and meet that pledge.

There is a real irony here. In the past, Beijing rigged Hong Kong elections openly and honestly. But with a sort of quasi-universal suffrage coming from 2017, the Central People’s Government will increasingly have to resort to underhand tactics to ensure that the electorate votes the way it is supposed to. With a one-party system to defend, the Communist state can only permit democracy in the Big Lychee if the process is manipulated through corruption of the city’s much-cherished values – not to mention outrageously lame smears and stunningly boring excuses for scandals. People can be forgiven for wondering whether it’s worth it.

I declare this weekend open with, courtesy of the locust-outing Standard, another great moment in the history of integration with the motherland…


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13 Responses to Guided democracy and the rise of mind-numbing non-scandals

  1. Rinky Dinky says:

    The revolution is coming and you’re still writing about the ancient regime. Maybe you like it really?

  2. Old Timer says:

    To be fair, I don’t think he’s getting a free ride. Many’s the time I’ve seen mainlanders give up in exasperation at the challenge of inserting their ticket (torturously obtained from a machine surrounded by a small village population offering various theories as to purchase procedure) in the slot, and simply duck under the turnstile.

  3. maugrim says:

    I’m almost feeling sorry for C.Y. Funny how Tang’s affair(s) have moved into the ‘nothing to see here, move along’ category.

    By the way Hemmers, you failed to mention Mormons and their ‘magic underpants’. To wit:

  4. PropertyDeveloper says:

    Your links — at least the non-musical ones — are brilliant, especially to the WSJ, Wiki and the government.

  5. Big Al says:

    Much as I want to see CY in the top job (along with pigs flying) his denials of any wrongdoing are amusing – they remind me of Edmund Blackadder denying he knew King Richard was dead after being told so in a cottage, which goes something like this:

    “… I was completely on the opposite side of the field. I was nowhere near the cottage … errrrr, not that it was a cottage – it was a river. But, then, I wouldn’t know, of course, because I wasn’t there”.

  6. Meathamper says:

    I’d much rather our election scandals be open and the Chinese rigged them openly. There would be less excuse for quarter-page religious advertisements in broadsheet newspapers.

  7. Real Tax Payer says:

    I really can’t believe the HK govt press dept has sunk so low

    This is not just just silly : it’s puerile, infantile

    It’s like little-goodie-goodie- Willy splitting to his teacher on Big Johnny because little Willy heard Big Johnny use the “F” word in the bogs after rugby.

    Well – it may back fire. HK people are not stupid and they all love an underdog.

    Just watch out for July 1 …… I DO hope they ban noisy instruments again, so so I can exercise my right to shout and bang noisy things in the streets ( guess I’m being puerile now…)

    I have a huge Swiss cowbell and I’m thinking of the most creative way ( and noisy) way to carry it + associated sign or whatever on July 1. Free pie and pint in the Wanch for the winning suggestion

  8. Mary Hinge says:

    Good man RTP. That’s what HK’s 1st July demonstrations need: more cowbell!

  9. PCC says:

    In Boston we call them “fare jumpers”, not “fare crawlers”. Another feather in Beijing’s cap as an innovation hub.

  10. Baldleon says:

    well according to this the people are seeing right thru the scam

    then again not that it matters in the end…

  11. Real Tax Payer says:

    Late addition

    It is backfiring

    CY is steaming ahead

    HK people are not so stupid

  12. Real Tax Payer says:

    Know what … and why would vote for the WOLF ?

    Because the farking wine-imbibing pig is just SO awful

    Anything ANYTHING for a change .

    Please PLEASE don’t give me another 5 years of the same AWFUL BS

  13. Real Tax Payer says:

    Organisers of a protest against a controversial government scheme that would allow mainland-registered cars into Hong Kong claim nearly 7,000 people have made an online pledge to take to the streets today.
    The protesters, supported by a coalition of political parties, green groups and community activists who say that allowing in cars from the mainland will worsen congestion and air pollution and make streets more dangerous, will gather in Victoria Park.

    “Drivers don’t obey the rules on the mainland,” said journalist Kay Lam, who started a Facebook group opposed to the scheme. “Why would they follow the rules here? One mistake could be fatal. When it comes to safety, there should be no compromises.”

    Paul Zimmerman, CEO of Designing Hong Kong, said: “Mainland vehicles, not mainlanders, are the locusts unleashed on Hong Kong,” referring to a recent advertisement that attacked practices such as non-resident mainland mothers giving birth in Hong Kong hospitals.

    Under an agreement made with Guangdong authorities in 2010, Hong Kong drivers can to apply to take their vehicles to the mainland from next month. Later, Guangdong drivers will be able to do the same. The quota is expected to be set at 50 cars per day, for a maximum of seven days. Some 2,000 cross-border permits have already been issued.

    “There is not yet a concrete timetable and the detailed arrangements have to be further discussed,” a spokeswoman for the Transport and Housing Bureau said. “We will implement the trial scheme in a gradual manner, and will carefully consider the capacity of the control point and road networks on both sides, impact on air quality as well as other related factors.” But the scheme’s opponents say that the number of cars permitted will increase significantly.

    “It won’t stop at 50 or 100 cars,” said Civic Party lawmaker Audrey Eu Yuet-mee, who has launched a petition to cancel the scheme. “The government has a duty to tell the public what the whole plan is.”

    The government says mainlanders driving into Hong Kong must have clean driving records, and be familiar with the risks of operating right-hand-drive vehicles on the left.

    But reports have proliferated online of mainland-registered vehicles breaking traffic laws in Hong Kong. Photos have been posted on Facebook of some parked on footpaths, making left turns on red lights and otherwise violating traffic laws.

    Eu said she is also concerned that websites on the mainland openly advertise cross-border vehicles for hire, which is illegal.

    Some transport experts say the scheme is being pushed ahead to justify new cross-border highways such as the Hong Kong-Zhuhai -Macau Bridge, due to open in 2016.

    “We have built a lot of new crossings and the capacity is very high,” said Hung Wing-tat, an associate professor of civil engineering at Polytechnic University. “They’ve decided they have to find a way to produce some traffic, otherwise they are all big white elephants

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