I blame BrandHK

By rights, Hong Kong should be suffering serious quasi-election theatrics fatigue by now. After embarrassing, mishandled on-stage accidents led the two leading actors going horribly off-script, the curtain has come down for the interval. The Mainland directors, having ruled out any re-casting, are now furiously rewriting the next act. It is a thankless task; the play’s backers are split into two hostile camps, and the audience is in a bad and unpredictable mood. A 20-minute intermission and a calming drink are in order. Instead, a third thespian, whose bow-tie was not expected to be seen much in remaining scenes, has mounted the boards and launched into a separate but similarly themed drama of his own. And his performance is getting reviews far and wide.

The Chief Executive ‘election’ farce has, weirdly, become more of a farce by becoming less of one – or maybe vice-versa. Either way, it is attracting far more interest from the world’s media than would usually be the case, which makes Beijing’s dilemma that bit more acute. Trained on the rigged ‘election’ system, the spotlight could be a good thing. But it’s less helpful if it results in headlines about current CE Donald Tsang and a ‘corruption probe’. Whether Hong Kong was better under the British is debatable. I remember in the 1980s racism that wouldn’t be tolerated today, hospitals with patients in the corridors and, in my neighbourhood, a crumbling open-air methadone dispensary that looked like something from the recesses of the Third World. But what basement-owner Henry Tang, luxury-loving Donald Tsang and ultimately Beijing have certainly been doing is ensuring that Hong Kong’s reputation was better under the British.

Which brings us to a response to Hugo Restall’s Wall Street Journal piece that someone should send Sir Bow-Tie. Or should have – too late now. It is a letter from one Kin-ming Liu, which quotes from the memoirs of colonial Governor (1947-57) Alexander Grantham:

“As the Queen’s representative, the Governor has to behave and be treated as such. He should be dignified without being pompous, approachable and friendly without being intimate, because if he is intimate with any one individual or any particular group, he will be accused, rightly or wrongly, of favoritism. He should not confine his associations to the ‘upper crest’ for he belongs to everyone in the colony, from the highest to the lowest. He must be discriminating, but not exclusive, in the social entertainment that he offers and accepts.”

Sir Alexander also had this piece of advice for his successors: “it is good for a governor when on leave to have to take his place in a queue and to have his toes trodden on in a crowded railway carriage. It brings home to him that he is but an ordinary mortal like anyone else, and that the dignity attaches to the office and not to the individual.”

Especially when the individual acts like a gauche little social-climber on the make. There are acceptable, even trendy, parts of Macau; Sir Bow-Tie was not in either. His plans to stay in Shenzhen after leaving office are similarly non-U; an appropriate neighbourhood of Macau would have been far preferable (Donald is cooling off out of town to keep a promise he made after former Chief Secretary Anson Chan kept sniping at him from her irritatingly nearby retirement residence).

Still if the Independent Commission Against Bad Taste and impeachment for high crimes and style misdemeanors are warranted for anything, it must be Phuket. Did he have a tattoo done? Did Selina get her hair braided on the beach? Did they rent jet skis? We have learned that they took a helicopter ride. Did they pile their plate high with oysters at the buffet? Did they buy and wear matching T-shirts? We have plumbed some depths since 1997, but really…

Some places need jobs, reduced deficits, higher exports or the toppling of a tyrant. Hong Kong needs a leadership with a bit of class again. And we now sit back to watch Act II.

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22 Responses to I blame BrandHK

  1. Alan Freeman says:

    More topical tunes, pop pickers!



    CY’s in the papers ’cause he gave Henry such pain

    He’ll soon be in the dock and in the papers once again

    Legco’s got his story of crony financial gain
It may be false, it may be true

    But nothing has been proved


Donald’s in his dressing-gown now, breakfasting alone

    Too sick to eat, he’s on his feet and to the telephone
The ICAC soothes him with their sympathetic tone
It may be false, it may be true

    But nothing has been proved

    Tamar house no resignations

    Guilty faces, every one

    Henry’s fallen out with Lisa
Why is it all such fun?


(It’s a scandal! It’s a scandal! Such a scandal!)

  2. Tiu Fu Fong says:

    Surely the solution to the yacht problem is for Charles Ho to install Octopus card readers on his yacht so anyone willing to shell out HK$500 can catch a lift back to Asia’s world city.

  3. maugrim says:

    Just a hunch:
    a comment I had from a high ranking civil servant was that, off the record, they were finding it hard to adapt ‘culturally’ to Central Government practices. From memory, one was the ‘rule’ that only certain, modest amouts of money be spent on banquets and other such entertainment but there was also an unstated rule from Mainland counterparts which was that such banquets should be lavish enough so as to give face to our northern brothers. Hence, British trained civil servants are confused. Time is elapsing and we have a strange mix of ICAC era laws where District Councilors go to jail for rorting expenses and schools are castigated for charging an extra 20 cents for exercise books they sell. Compare this to our politicians and business people, trained otherwise, finding that they are entranced more and more by the ‘dark side’, ie, the way Mainlanders do business.

    In many ways Don’s predicament says so much, about him, about whom rules apply to and how HK has changed and about how things are likely to get even worse.

  4. Tai O Toshi says:

    Talking about BrandHK, I suggest “HK – Asia’s world city” be changed to “HK – the oozing zit on the bottom of China”.

  5. Stephen says:

    I was struck by the pathetic bit part actress Vagina Ip trying to land a role in Act II (note to Vagina ditch your agent, Michael Tien)

    All this and Ron Arculli quietly exits the stage after years of service to brand HK.

    Will it ever be the same … ?

  6. R lloyd says:

    I think Donald forgot he wasn’t part of the civil service anymore. An appropriate response would have been – as Chief executive of HK I’m not bound by Civil service entertainment rules since I’M NOT PART OF THE CIVIL SERVICE.

    But that would have required balls.

    (actually i think its a smoke screen for Henry – “i knew it was illegal but laws don’t apply to me and my family” Tang

  7. Probably says:

    So if the CE contest is to be about class does that means it’s the idle rich Henry as Harry Enfield’s “Tim terribly nice but Dim”:


    up against CY Leung’s nouveau riche “Considerably Richer than You”:


  8. Joe Blow says:

    Ronald Arculli would make a fine CEO. He is, or has been, a member of every board, commission and committee in Hong Kong over the past 3 decades, and is fluent in both Chinese and English. If it weren’t for the ethnic snag….

    (funny that ethnic Chinese can hold high office in western countries but not the other way around)

  9. Vir Cotto says:

    Concerning election fatigue, a classic freudian slip occurred on RTHK 3 this morning when Hugh Chivrerton said: “Regina Ip’s departure makes it a two horse race …… (hesitation) ……. oh plus Albert Ho of course”.

    Also, AF how can you go to You Tube today with out lamenting the sad passing away of Davy Jones the former lead singer from the Monkeys:

    “I’m a Bereaver”

  10. oddsox says:

    From a LegCo encounter some years ago but repeated over many days, Ronald Arculli is well meaning and pleasant but dim. He has a conscience, somewhere, but is too inured to the elite’s way of doing things in HK to question anything. His comments since as HKEx Chairman don’t give any grounds to hope he’s improved at all. His law firm in earlier days was instrumental in the background campaigning against a competition law. If eligible (he doesn’t pass the Han-racial purity test I’d guess), he’d just be a better meaning, less venal, but no more effectual version of Henry.

    As for Leung, yes, he’ll probably be more effectual, but I’m bemused that anyone would think he’s got at all libertarian or democratic instincts. He will “make the trains run on time” with all that implies.

  11. PropertyDeveloper says:

    Arculli apparently can’t write Chinese, so couldn’t even be a civil servant these days.

    The more someone is acceptable to China, the greater the likelihood they will prove to be a poor leader of HK, so CY, if he’s allowed to ges that far, may be as good as anyone at bringing out the protestors.

    HK does well in objective measures of corruption, but it’s like bird-flu-survival, court-conviction, country-park-desecration and triple-parking rates: because most cases fall below the official radar, the real situation never comes to light.

  12. Resigned says:

    Don’t forget the freest economy this side of the Horsehead Nebula.

  13. Real Tax Payer says:

    Well the gloves are off …..

    Latest news this afternoon is that enery says : “Leung cannot be trusted” !

    Coming from a lying, scheming, blame-my-wife- for-everything-I-did-wrong H Tang ( don’t forget the JP ) that’s a ripe one .

    @ OddSox: I happen to like trains that run on time.

    I can see the future BrandHK slogan ( to get back to today’s Hemmers) :

    ” Hong Kong : The world’s freest economy . But beware ! Smoking in public places and collusion are forbidden . But there’s clean air and the trains run on time”

    I’m lovin’ it ! 🙂

  14. Claw says:


    It is illegal for any vessel to carry passengers for hire or reward (unless registered as such a commercial vessel), so if Donald says he paid Charles et al for his trips he is dropping them in it! Don’t know about planes but expect the situation to be similar. Criminal summonses all round? Will Donald tell the truth as a witness in Court, will he be a credible witness or be portrayed by the defence counsels as too tainted? Hours of fun to come ( if it wasn’t so sad )

  15. Resigned says:

    RTP: CY may collude less with tycoons but he will collude more with Beijing. I would rather lose my spare change to an oligarchy than lose my civil liberties to authoritarianism. That is why I still live in HK (just) rather than Beijing.

    The MTR already runs on time, so it’s oddsox’s “all [else] that implies” that matters. If you think it means CY will clean up the air we breathe, you’re living in a fantasy land about more than one thing.

    Your poetry’s alright though.

  16. Real Tax Payer says:

    @ Resigned

    I have worked full-time in China ( well – most of every week) for 25 years and thus have seen the good, the bad and ugly. Yes – I have a lot of sympathy with your first point . But one has to be pretty stoopid to get arrested for stating ones opinions openly in China ( it’s a lot safer to say what one thinks in China than S’Pore )

    But I don’t think CY is going to stuff Art 23 down our throats and send us off to labor camps if we don’t like it.

    Why can’t we keep our existing HK freedoms AND be free of the tycoons monopoly ? I don’t think the two things are mutually exclusive .

    As to your second point: Yes the MTR does run on time, but the parking wardens tremble with fear at the sight of a tycoon-mobile illegally parked. As as for cleaning up our foul air : I would rather vote for someone who will at least TRY to clean up our air, than someone who has no intention of doing anything about it ( and certainly did nothing these past years when he was CS and – presumably – having a big say in don-the-con’s policies )

    PS : Glad you liked my poetry 🙂

  17. Walter De Havilland says:

    @ RTP. I’d certainly vote for someone who would clean the air. But nothing’s going to happen when our CE is jetting about with people who own tunnels for which we all need to pay tolls. Allowing more cars and trucks on the roads, including from the Mainland, means more income for the CE’s friends and forget the consequences, including more air pollution and traffic congestion. Clearly, the health of our children is less important to these people then profit.

    On a related note, the CE’s performance today in LegCo was interesting. Was that genuine emotion or having being caught out did his PR people coach him to play the sympathy card. No matter. If a civil servant had taken such trips he’d now be looking at dismissal, loss of pension and possibly some jail time. We all know that the CE is not covered by the same laws, nonetheless given his tacit admission of guilt today the only option is for him to step aside as he no longer has any creditibility. Of course, given that his tenure is over soon, he will hang on and bluff it out, doing more damage to the reputation of Hong Kong in the process.

  18. Real Tax Payer says:

    @ Walter DH

    I agree completely

    Not sure if I buy into ( SCENARIO A) : the theory that don-the-con has done all this as smoke screen for enery-the- bigger-and nastier -shoo-in con, or whether ( SCENARIO B) : don-the-con is actually such a dimwit as ole Tung – but still miles above the Tang ( “JP” )

    On balance I buy into the B) scenario : dear ole pathetic dead duck don has f***d up himself in his retirement days in his total naiveness, pretty much as much as he has f****d up HK during
    his days of tenure , lead by his (indeed very long) nose by the property cartels.

    I actually feel sorry for the little old rubber don- duck – floating on the huge cartel-sized tsunamis created by the cartels : powerless to stop the waves

    Donald Duck : the world will forgive you , so please do stop sobbing – it degrades your position as CE

    But the world will never forget that under your “leadership / I-will-get-the-job-done actually meant ” give the tycoons as much as they demanded”

    DONALD : Guess not even your PR guys will follow this last Hemmer’s thread to its ultimate end . If so, you have betrayed your boss. In all my years in HK ( over half my life ) I always gave kudos and real $ credit to those staff in HK – and China – who told me THE TRUTH

  19. Real Tax Payer says:

    Sh1T DAMN buGGer F**K … today’s SCMP ( which I get on-line)

    Tang launched blistering attack on Leung

    Record number of max 5 star hits on-line by early morning , but the hits could mean anything from “love the article/ love enery/ hate CY ” to ” Hate the pig / give us pig-eating wolf”

    For God’s sake, can’t HK see that by putting enery up as CE we actually for the first time ever put a F********G TYCOON in the driving seat ?

    If that ever happens, then God save the Big Lychee and all who sail therein

    PS : poor old Donald. I actually felt sorry for him watching his last night’s grovelling tears of abject apology on TV

  20. Resigned says:

    @RTP, leaving aside the question of labour camps, the mainland’s state-run media and censored internet are enough to drive me to drink.

    Call me crazy, but I believe civil liberties include the right to know what is happening in the world, let alone demand transparency and accountability of one’s own government. The CCP does not answer to the citizenry and never will as long as its strength holds out.

    Although of course HK is inching in those directions, with our moronic, self-entitled political “leaders” doing whatever they please as well as “politically acceptable” appointments at the head of airwave monopolists RTHK and TVB.

    What will CY bring? Less stupidity and scandal, more sophisticated manipulation and command/control techniques.

    I don’t think much of Singapore either but at least it has fresh air.

  21. Real Tax Payer says:

    @ Resigned

    Yes – you are correct

    And probably I am very naive to believe that CY will / try / succeed……….. to bring in any real change for good

    But at least he offers us a chance to change things for the better, but tang only offers a chance ( big/ certain chance) for the worse

    Time for bed and tomorrow is sunday Sabbath rest

    Monday starts a new week in The Big Lychee

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