Henry Tang – the Opera, cont’d

After revealing himself as a cad who would throw the mother of his children aside to get the last seat on a lifeboat, Henry Tang’s chances of being Hong Kong’s next Chief Executive seemed to go from shoo-in to zero in the space of a week. It was Henry’s quasi-contest to lose – a rigged procedure handing the job to him on a plate – and the dumb schmuck managed to lose it. Having been caught arrogantly assuming he was essentially above the law, blithely trying to wave it away and then despicably dumping everything on his wife, he cannot be CE. It’s impossible. Surely.

Yet with just 10 days to go before the nomination period ends, it is equally impossible for Beijing to insert someone else in his place without exploding its own myth that the choice and appointment of our next leader is an ‘election’. The Chinese government took the pretense surprisingly seriously this time, presumably in preparation for the guided but moderately contested process due in 2017. Beijing did not openly or even implicitly express its preference, and its officials even claimed they could live with either Henry or his rival CY Leung.

Those officials also told pro-establishment figures late last year that if Henry failed the public opinion test, he wouldn’t get the job. That didn’t stop a large portion of our tycoon-bureaucrat elite from backing him, so we are now faced with the scarcely imaginable prospect of banker David Li, ex-Monetary Authority boss Joseph Yam and all the rest being forced to make an embarrassing reversal and line up behind a last-minute stand-in. There are ways to spin such a turnaround – Henry could ‘fall ill’ and his fan club pretend to draft Beijing’s new nominee – but the fact is they will look like a bunch of losers and stooges.

And who would be the replacement? Tsang Yok-sing is a top member of the Communist Party’s United Front, and is presumably expressing an interest in the top job to give Mainland officials time to micromanage whatever happens next. A paid-up Red/head teacher running Hong Kong? No. Ex-president of the Legislative Council Rita Fan’s name just won’t go away, thanks to the public popularity she gains from her unwarranted ‘nice old aunt’ image, but she is aging and would be hopelessly out of her depth. Beijing cannot appear to be so desperate.

Former Security Secretary Regina Ip makes no secret of her lust for the position of CE. Not everyone hates her (she got 20% of the HK Island Legco vote in 2008) and she could at least do the job, sort of. If I were Beijing, I would install her rather as they resorted to Donald Tsang to replace Tung Chee-hwa in 2005. Another name banded about is Victor Fung, an able and unobjectionable businessman. We could do worse.

And then there’s CY Leung. According to various conspiracy theories, we are witnessing a struggle between China’s two main factions: Hu Jintao’s old-style doctrinaire, grassroots, party faithful (who back CY) and Jiang Zemin’s Shanghai, elitist, quasi-capitalist ‘princelings’ (who back Henry). Under this scenario, we could even enjoy the overthrow of our current ruling caste. Henry, David Li, Joseph Yam, the property tycoons and top civil servants get dragged out of bed on July 1, lined up against a wall and shot – as CY’s ‘people first’ regime takes over.

This allows Beijing to stick to the original ‘election’ script. But the Election Committee’s business elements would have to be exceptionally obedient to vote for CY. And while a populist move would make Hong Kong patriotic and Communist-loving overnight, it goes against Beijing’s instinctive paranoid preference to cultivate a, hopefully united, band of loyalists in the city and exclude the untrustworthy, colonial-tinged masses. Not least, China’s own forthcoming top man, Vice-President Xi Jinping, is one of the princelings. Still, if it happens I’ll definitely bring my camera on July 1.

Alternatively, assuming we are not seeing a Communist Youth League coup in Kowloon Tong, Beijing could simply order the tycoons and CY to co-exist and tell Henry to lose the ‘election’. Heaven knows what sort of government we would be left with, given the enmity between new and old powerbrokers and whole system’s lack of legitimacy following such a stage-managed outcome. Maybe it would be easier for the puppet-masters just to kick Henry away and drag in Regina/Victor/A.N.Other – and to hell with this pretending that the Harbour People Rule the Harbour. Or we come back to our original impossible scenario: carry on with Henry regardless. When every other option seems impossible, the status quo is that little bit easier to conceive. And as we all know, in the Communist tradition of government, public opinion falls into line with the Party, not the other way round.

Meanwhile, for those who have not yet had the pleasure – RTHK librettist/tenor Steve James’s Henry Tang – the Opera.

Click to hear the Groundhogs’ ‘Status People’!


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20 Responses to Henry Tang – the Opera, cont’d

  1. maugrim says:

    The picture is excellent lol, where did it originate from? I know some want to maintain the status quo, but I don’t. Surely even infighting can benefit HK if it leads to a change in the way things are currently managed, even just for the re-shaping of our oligarchy given the many political and other pies their fingers are planted in.

    As to Regina, even she describes herself as hard and soft. There’s something about her I can’t quite place my finger on that seems to excite many ex-civil servants and middle class men that possbly harbour dark desires about being whipped or similar.

  2. Joe Coral says:

    2-1 Henry Stegosaurus Tang

    3-1 C Y Tyrannosaurus Leung

    6-1 Jasper Velociraptor Tsang

    10-1 Rita Pterodactyl Fan

    20-1 Regina Iguanodon Ip

    Never a quarrel – bet with Joe Coral.

    No personal cheques – especially from journalists.

  3. Samyanggai says:

    First the adultery, now the illegal structure – seems like the only time we see Henry Tang’s wife is when Henry has some kind of unauthorised erection.

  4. Joe Blow says:

    A possible face-saver: Henry will become CE and resigns after 1 year for ‘health reasons’. Then they appoint someone else who is ‘sort of’ acceptable to all.

  5. Walter De Havilland says:

    Don’t forget Henry’s role in Harbour Farce. He has got form for passing the buck.

  6. FB3 says:

    Back in Hong Kong now & more of a chance to catch up with whats been going on.

    I love that ‘Enry got busted after the paparazzi hired cranes to look through the bottom of his swimming pool. Is the Fung Shu master who approved this good luck feature signing up for job retraining.

    I must confess to schadenfreude about this whole scenario but the root of my concerns lie with the way that HK is being run & its future. I have been here since before the handover & genuinely have a lot of affection for this place & its people. I have done well but it does disturb me to see how the average HK’er is being so badly served by its Govt.

    I recently went to the new apartment of an employee & was really surprised to see how the average HK’er has to live. It shouldn’t & doesn’t have to be this way & I foresee more problems ahead unless Beijing takes some action to break the collusion between the tycoons & the Govt.

    I like the picture in todays post but it would make my day to see a mockup of how many cage homes you could fit into ‘Enrys basement splashed across the front page of Apple Daily or similar.

    There are a lot of smart people in Beijing, I hope they are waking up to how much damage is being done by the present strategy & that its time to stop listening to the tycoons whining & reset for the future.

  7. Sir Crispin says:

    “but the fact is they will look like a bunch of losers and stooges.”

    Since when has that ever stopped them, or when have they ever cared?

  8. Big Al says:

    Just back from a trip to the Motherland (obviously with restricted internet access) so was delighted to see the shit storm in a teacup back in the Big Lychee.

    Obviously, Henry can’t continue, but I shudder to think of Jasper as our CE. What a nob. Says he has no platform, but obviously it’s the same of Henry’s – “do as Beijing says”.

    I’m almost beginning to feel sorry for Henry, in the way you feel sorry for the lumbering “class thickie” being beaten up again – you can’t not watch and you can’t stop it, but you do feel sorry. Almost. Can’t wait for tomorrow’s revelations …

  9. Bigot says:

    Heard from the pheripheral CE-pretender that any aspirant should have a whiter than white record.
    Wonder if it applies to the one who is already in office?

  10. Bigot says:

    “the fact is they will look like a bunch of … stooges.”

    They dont just look like so, they actually are.

    Try to look for a picture or a clipping of a pro-govt stooge donning in an ill-fitting Chinese opera costume, apparently commenting on an equally serious public issue in today’s media.

  11. maugrim says:

    With apologies to Mercury, F

    Henry’s Rhapsody

    Scene 1:

    Wants to have more wives?
    lives out his fantasy?
    Leung in a landslide,
    A good dose of reality
    Open your eyes,
    Look down from the pool and see,
    More liar than coy, he needs no sympathy,
    Because now’s the time for him to go
    Snowballing lies, a sordid show
    Anyway this thing blows,
    doesn’t really matter to Beijing.

    Scene 2:
    Just killed my chance,
    Built a place to rest my head,
    By my wife was I all but led.

    Mama… the plans were just some fun
    But Lisa went and dug it all away
    Mamaaaaa oooh,
    Architects said permission I could buy
    If I’m not CEO this time tomorrow,
    Carry on, carry on as if voting really matters

    Too late, my time has come,
    Protesters with masks of swine, media’s at me all
    the time
    Goodbye, ev’rybody, I’ve got to go,
    Got to leave you all behind and face the truth
    Mamaaaaa oooh,
    All I did was lie,

    Scene 3:
    I’m just a poor boy, nobody loves me
    He’s just a spoilt boy from a rich family,
    Spare the territory from this monstrosity!
    Easy come, easy go, will you let me go
    Bismilah! No, we will not let you go
    (Let him go!) Bismilah! We will not let you go
    (Let him go!) Bismilah! We will not let you go
    (Let me go) Will not let you go
    (Let me go)(Never) Never let you go
    (Let me go) Never let you go (Let me go) Ah
    No, no, no, no, no, no, no
    Oh mama mia, mama mia, mama mia, let me go
    Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me, for me,
    for meeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

  12. jing says:

    Henry once told CUHK students, in a speech called Leadership and the Art of Magnaminity:

    “A smart leader should be magnanimous enough to be willing to work with people who are smarter than him. He should partner with people who can complement his weakness. It is better to have someone to hold you back and remind you.”

    I’m sure those students have learnt a great lesson about tycoons and weakness and a lot besides.

  13. Real Tax Payer says:

    The Henry opera is well worth listening to if you haven’t done so already

    Seems ole enery is bringing out the poetic and musical side of us all these days


    Nothing like seeing a lying big wig tycoon-affiliate toad being kicked in the dirt ( @ Big Al : no I don’t feel sorry for ‘enery in the slightest . But I seriously do feel sorry for his wife and family )

    BTW: did anyone else note the column in sunday’s ( or was it sauturday’s ) SCMP mentioning that enery’s supporters have some real class. David “bank on me brown-assing enery” Li was fined US$8Million by the US securities commission for insider trading. With supporters of such high ethical standards it’s not surprising enery thought he could get away with the cellar’s dark secret ” forever”

    BBTW : wasn’t it david Li who got the grand cross order of chevalier dong (or whatever) a couple of months ago, and even Hemmers was invited ?

  14. Mary Hinge says:

    There’s a photo floating around of Henry with the nubile Ms. Esther Lam (daughter of the vice-chairman, or should that be chairman of vice, of the Heung Yee Kuk), with whom it is being alleged that he has had an affair (he denies it).



  15. Incredulous says:

    If Henry doesn’t watch out, he could give corruption and collusion a bad name.

  16. PropertyDeveloper says:

    You can fool all of the people only some of the time. Anybody who cares for HK must be delighted at any such development. If the political system is so rotten that anyone with integrity is barred from standing, then anything that demeans the pro-establishment toadies must be welcomed. One positive outcome will be to undermine Peking’s condescending — and implicitly racist and colonialist — assumption that occupying the land would be enough to subjugate the native “compatriots”.

    The government still has some legitimacy via the legal system, civil service, police and ICAC, which have not yet squandered the accumulated trust. But the worse the executive branch gets, the better the chance the HK people as a whole will finally realise that the legitimacy problem won’t just go away. According to this logic, the worst possible candidate would be the best. How about Fatty Fan?

  17. Real Tax Payer says:

    Message to Mr Tang (JP):


  18. PCC says:

    The teddy bear on Henry’s bed is the self-same “Teddy” from the film ‘Artificial Intelligence’. Might Mr. Tang also be a “Mecha”? I think we should be told.

  19. Real Tax Payer says:

    Just watched the 7.30 news on Pearl ( I never bothered to watch the TV news until last week)

    So enery has 379 nominations . Well good for you enery ( I don;t think)

    But what really pissed me off was that awful david li cuddling up on enery’s right hand side ( cosying might be a better word) somewhat like a cross between a courtier and a nurse. Awful (and yes it WAS that david li that got the froggie gong last year : if you google images david li that invite comes up tops the source website is none other than Hemmer’s)

    Has it ever occurred to you how much Monsieur li looks like a hippo ?

  20. Plod says:

    Speech by SCS at Workshop on Common Law Offence of Misconduct in Public Office and Integrity Management in Civil Service

    Following is the opening speech by the Secretary for the Civil Service, Miss Denise Yue, at the Workshop on the Common Law Offence of Misconduct in Public Offence and Integrity Management in the Civil Service today (June 8 2010) (English only):


    Good afternoon. A very warm welcome to you all. I am glad to see so many familiar faces here today in support of our Ethical Leadership Programme Workshop.

    The Hong Kong Civil Service is a permanent, honest, meritocratic, professional and politically-neutral institution. We pride ourselves on having a high standard of ethics and integrity. I am sure all of you would agree ethics are the bedrock on which good governance is built; and integrity is the core value of an honest Civil Service. However, these statements may seem a bit too vague, even to the extent of being empty rhetoric.

    As pragmatic leaders, you need concrete guidelines to show the men and women in your organisations how to conduct themselves as public officers of integrity and discharge their duties in an ethical manner. The Civil Service Code and the voluminous CSRs dealing with subjects ranging from conflict of interest, indebtedness, to acceptance of advantages etc. provide detailed guidelines for this purpose. The well established requirements of the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance (Cap 201) are also important tools to shape the integrity of public officers.

    In recent years, we have started to see more prosecutions for the common law offence of “Misconduct in Public Office”, in short, “MIPO”, for cases involving elements of corruption or conflict of interests. For example, only some weeks ago, a civil servant was convicted of MIPO for stocking up and re-selling postal stationery items for personal profits. He was sentenced to perform 100 hours of community service for his improper conduct. Another civil servant was convicted of MIPO several years ago for exerting improper influence over the award of contracts with a company in which his relatives had a financial interest. This civil servant was sentenced to 30 months’ imprisonment.

    Compared to the various CSRs and the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance, MIPO does not seem so familiar to us. We are less clear about the definition of this offence and are not quite sure how to avoid committing the offence. This is why we have arranged this afternoon for experts in this field to talk to you.

    Mr Ian McWalters, Director of Public Prosecution, is the leading authority on the law of bribery and corruption in Hong Kong. He has devoted a full chapter on the subject of MIPO in his often cited book “Bribery and Corruption Law in Hong Kong”. Some of you may even have sought his professional advice in this area already. I am sure we will be greatly enlightened by his talk on “The Role of Misconduct in Public Office in Developing an Ethical Civil Service”.

    Mr Jeremy Lo, an Assistant Commissioner from the ICAC, will talk about the management of risk in the context of MIPO. Prior to his working in the Community Relations Department of the ICAC, Mr Lo was a seasoned investigator and has rich experience in handling MIPO cases.

    The second part of today’s workshop focuses on integrity management. Mr William Tang, Director of Management Services of the Hong Kong Police Force, will share with us the Police best practices in integrity management. He will show us how important it is to have commitment and drive from top management if we ever hope to have effective integrity management in an organisation.

    It is a pity that I cannot stay behind on account of a meeting which I have to attend. Before I leave, I would like to say a few words on the most topical issue in the community these days, and that is the 2012 constitutional reform package.

    Hong Kong’s constitutional development has reached a critical stage for, in a fortnight’s time, the Legislative Council will decide on the Government’s constitutional reform package for the 2012 Chief Executive and Legislative Council elections. The Government’s proposed package will enhance the democratic elements of the electoral methods for the Chief Executive and the Legislative Council through the participation of elected District Council members who have a broad electorate base. For the Legislative Council election, in particular, no more “traditional” functional constituency seats will be created; and 41 seats, close to 60% of all seats, will be returned through direct or indirect geographical elections.

    The proposed package is a vital step forward towards greater democracy and, indeed, universal suffrage. The Government will continue to strive to gain the support of the community and of the Legislative Council for this proposed package.

    Civil servants are the backbone of the Government and must give their best to serve the Chief Executive and the Government of the day in formulating, explaining and implementing policies, as well as in conducting administrative duties. We must demonstrate through our words and deeds that we are a quality civil service with vision and dedication to serving the people of Hong Kong.

    Lastly, may I take this opportunity to thank our guest speakers, Mr McWalters, Mr Lo and Mr Tang, for taking time out of their busy schedule to share their expertise with us. May I also wish all of you a productive and rewarding workshop.

    Thank you.

    Tuesday, June 8, 2010

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