One last hope for the petrified

The earnest and trendy crowd photographed at Hong Kong’s new White Cube gallery last Thursday seemed to confirm the city’s new role as Third Biggest Art Hub in the Solar System. But when I dropped by at noon on Saturday to see Gilbert and George’s London Pictures, I was alone in the 4,000-sq ft, two-floor showroom, apart from three staff. So I managed to buy the last signed print… 

While filing it away along with other unframed posters, I came across a lime green one from five years ago bearing Donald Tsang’s Chief Executive campaign slogan about getting the job done. It was number 400 in a series of 1,000 (to comply with election rules) and was stolen from the wall outside the men’s room in a Lan Kwai Fong bar.

It was of course one of landlord Allan Zeman’s hostelries. This time round, Zeman is once again supporting the choice of Hong Kong’s developer-bureaucrat establishment. But, even before taking office, Henry Tang has managed to make himself as despised as Donald has become after working hard at it for years. Henry, Zeman tells the South China Morning Post, must make himself more popular. That’s one way of putting it: the clueless spoilt rich-kid candidate managed to get just 2% of the 500-strong audience to back him at a (predictably hostile environmental) debate over the weekend.

A (non-fact-checked) NPR report on the Big Lychee’s gloriously disastrous rigged election ends with a neat summary: “Beijing … will have to choose between alienating the ordinary people of Hong Kong or its tycoons.” The plutocrats, or at least a veritable smattering of them, are currently in the nation’s capital for the CPPCC/NPC sessions, and we can be sure that they will be testing to the limit the widely held assumption that they have Beijing’s ear. They will plead that Henry’s rival, CY Leung, poses a major risk to the continued success of the Hong Kong economy. CY, they will insist, is a dangerous, socialist, welfarist populist. His high public approval ratings should serve as a warning.

We might think such talk is self-serving, but these tycoons will be totally sincere. They do not see CY as a threat to their own local businesses in isolation but to the whole capitalist system in Hong Kong – the wholesome, positive, wealth-creating good bits as well as the parasitic, semi-feudal bad bits. Furthermore, if some random recent conversations and eavesdropping are anything to go by, they are not alone.

Some of Hong Kong’s smaller potatoes – from property owners, to civil servants, to entrepreneurs, to civil rights folk – are trying to envision CY Leung delivering an annual policy address in the Legislative Council, giving New Year’s greetings to fellow citizens on TV or chairing an Executive Council meeting. And it is giving them a jolt. Maybe they account for that 2% at the debate. Nice idea in theory to have a new broom and fresh ideas, but… him? Surely better in practice to stick with what we know.

The problem is that ‘what we know’ is a buffoon who has so far machine-gunned himself in one foot, then the other, then back to the first one again. As Allan Zeman says of Henry, “…he has the ability, but he lacks the credibility.” By ‘ability’, of course, he means the capacity to smile and nod and do what your bureaucrat/tycoon minders tell you.

Maybe the Xi Jinping Handshake is the sublime signal that Henry has lost the mandate of Beijing, or a warning that it could happen. Or just a handshake. But if the Central government would still prefer to appoint him provided he narrows that embarrassing gap in the opinion polls, it can be done.

Scare stories about CY aren’t enough. Nor are cute gimmicks like the ‘thank you note’ supposedly from a grateful senior citizen. Henry needs to steal CY’s clothing and announce that he has seen the light, and his administration will be a ‘people first’ one, with fewer favours (whatever that means) for the tycoons and some named, manageable and probably overdue boosts in social spending. And at some point he should say he would appoint CY Leung as his number-two with special responsibility for sorting out health, education, welfare and housing (without getting anywhere near the financial and economic levers). And CY, the obedient party loyalist, would gracefully lose the ‘election’ and pretend to like his new job. Hong Kong’s collision with populism is averted. And everyone would be one big happy family again, as Beijing so badly wants it to be after the recent warfare within in its local support base. They’ve got 20 days.

This entry was posted in Blog. Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to One last hope for the petrified

  1. Real Tax Payer says:

    AMEN AMEN AMEN AMEN AMEN

  2. Deep Throat says:

    Nah. It’s all about the Red Terror taking over from capitalists.

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/36c9ffda-6456-11e1-b50e-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1oD73aDi3

    CY Leung is in on it.

    Better buy gold.

  3. mumphLT says:

    Apologies;copied from my Farcebewk:

    If the 1,200 sycophants that can vote in the quasi election for Chief Executive have to wait to see which candidate Bejing prefers – and this is what they are openly discussing…yet again – what is the point of this bloody farce?

    It’d be something if they could actually keep up the charade that this is in anyway an election.
    Instead it’s a totally open admission that none of them have an opinion, free will or a set of balls between them.

    The Sub-Standard was even speculating that the order Xi gave handshakes out might indicate the appointed one.
    This is making the privileged elite look more like crooks & cronies than ever; if they select the very unpopular, scandal magnet Horse-Face-Shit-For-Brains the Article 23 demonstrations will pale in comparison. Yet before he even said he was standing & before he even offered what his policies would be they were up his arse.

  4. FB3 says:

    I liked the pic of the front page of Saturdays SCMP.

    Albert Ho & CY Leung about to shake hands first whilst ‘Enrys outstretched hand was in the background.

    http://topics.scmp.com/photos/684f72b0d79d5310vgnvcm100000360a0a0abig.jpg

    Not sure what the Cantonese is for “Yeah, what eva! ‘Enry” but I bet they were both thinking it.

  5. maugrim says:

    From the Standard link, my comments in brackets:

    “I think every one knows that the idea to build 85,000 public flats [a year] was [Leung’s] idea,” Tang said, citing a well-known example of a policy his rival came up with that failed. (I wonder what the populace think, I’m not sure some will see this as a bad thing. Maybe wolfie will get unintended brownie points)

    Tang fended off criticism there will be government-business collusion once he is elected since he has the support of the SAR’s major property developers.

    He insisted he is not close friends with developers, and that they chose to nominate him because they considered him successful. (pure comedy)

    In fact, he added, Leung’s ties with the developers run deeper, as he operates a surveying company.(Perhaps he could have made use of CY’s services himself lol)

    He also cited some of his welfare initiatives such as plans for a HK$3,000 retirement subsidy for the elderly and 17 statutory holidays for all employees.(a workers paradise!)

    He said his platform, which included suggestions to create 40,000 subsidized flats in the next five years – on top of the existing 75,000 already pledged by the government – were made public after a detailed study. He said he has sought out the land available for development before finalizing this suggestion. (didnt he just say earlier that subsidised flats were a failure?)

    He pledged not to be overly reliant on the civil service and instead establish a ruling team that strikes a balance between civil servants and outsiders should he win. (outsiders= property developers)

    “The composition of the ruling team will be a balanced one, as it will be rare if there are no new faces in the administration. (50% civil service, 50% property developers)

    “There has been a chronic lack of political elites in Hong Kong,” (seriously, this is pure comedy)

    He has already been in touch with most of them, and said he finds their response encouraging. (His girlfriends perhaps?)

    “The final victory will go to the wise man.(PMSL)

  6. Iffy says:

    “The problem is that ‘what we know’ is a buffoon who has so far machine-gunned himself in one foot, then the other, then back to the first one again.”

    Love it.

    Did you see in the SCMP today how Henry laughed off his name being drawn in third place for the CE-lection ballot? By bragging about it matching the personalised rich-man number plates on one of his many cars. I cannot conceive of a more moronic or chronically out-of-touch “politician”.

  7. Daaitoulaam says:

    :::Tang’s popularity “doesn’t have to be better than [ Leung’s] but at least he needs to get closer to make it more acceptable”, Zeman said. “Anything within 20 percentage points would be an acceptable margin.” :::

    Within 20 percentage points? I’m sure the Central Policy Unit is working on a push poll for that. But it is sad Mumph that for all of the talk of this farce being more democratic by the likes of SCMP, that all it takes to make Henry’s rubber stamp victory palatable enough for the shoe-shiners is not losing by more than 20 points in opinion polls.

  8. Stephen says:

    I always get queasy when that muppet and Phuket resident Allan Semen enters the fray and decides his adoring public need to hear his “wisdom”

    As I see it it’s either CY Leung in round one or as an outside bet Jasper in a May run off. The Tycoons, as always, will do as they are told by Beijing – even Tobacco Charles whose sub standard this morning was dreadful – its as if he too thick to realise the game is up.

    Alas any hopes, after this debacle, of anything remotely democratic in the near future is off.

  9. Mary Hinge says:

    So the next time you go to an Allan Zeman establishment (Ocean Park, LKF), just pay 80% of the admission fee or the bar tab, and then say “close enough!!”

  10. Adrian says:

    “The problem is that ‘what we know’ is a buffoon who has so far machine-gunned himself in one foot, then the other, then back to the first one again.”

    As well as both of his wife’s feet too.

  11. PropertyDeveloper says:

    Zeman’s analysis may well be close to what Peking has resolved: that Tang will only be anointed if he can airbrush out the recent scandals (and avoid any new ones…) within the next week or two. They must not be seen to be acting precipitately, so must drop ambiguous, gnomic hints before the white smoke goes up, so the window of opportunity is surely gradually closing.

    United Front strategy would dictate the freezing out of the Reginas of this world, to avoid any suspicion of not being in total command. But at least the Chinese government have been made to think, even take into account HK popular opinion, while of course pretending not to: democratic progess of a sort, but likely to make them tighten the grip even more (“harmony”). (Revolutions happen when concessions are made.) Perhaps HK may yet prove a poisoned chalice, a piece of grit that the oyster can’t absorb?

  12. Big Al says:

    @FB3

    That photo is a fake. Like those photoshopped pictures of Chinese leaders (http://patriciachan.com/2011/06/how-to-not-photoshop-official-government-photos-funny-chinese-bad-photoshop-sensation/), the images of two of the CE contenders have actually been copied from other photographs and pasted in to the SCMP photo; Albert was in McDonalds, reaching out for his Big Mac meal; CY was about to shake the hand of a Malaysian contender in a 2002 design competion; and ‘enry? Well, ‘enry was actually the only CE candidate in the original photo, taken at CityU. He was there for a couple of days before the debate so that he could practice shaking hands. If you follow the direction of his eyes, he’s actually look down at a sign painted on the floor saying “Hold out your hand and grin like a twat until someone comes along and shakes it”.

  13. Old Timer says:

    Tang must be making so many backroom promises to comittee members right now that he’s selling HK even further down the river than might have been expected. So much owed to so few, at the expense of so many.

  14. Incredulous says:

    Er, who is this Semen fellow anyway? And who gives a toss what he thinks? Or does represent the voice of “the man in the pub”? I think we should be told.

  15. mumphLT says:

    El Semen Demon represents those who want to keep the tables tilted in their favour. God forbid they ever have to put in an honest days shift.

  16. Joe Blow says:

    Alan -“I have never read a book in my life”- Zeman has close links to Victor Fung. Whose name has been mentioned as a viable replacement of The Stallion……..

  17. So, So Thirsty says:

    @Iffy – Saw that car quip too. Trying to imagine a UK politician using that one…

    On related matters, is anyone else perturbed by Our Enery’s 2% support on environmental issues? I refer not to the utter humiliation for H; after all, he must be used to it by now. No, what frightens me is that in a group of 500, they could actually find as many as 10 people that agreed with him.

    Mike Rowse, who must be rubbing his hands in glee as Enery plummets, raised some pertinent points today (SCMP). Dare we hope that the cleansing of the Augean stables of gov.hk has begun? Last word must go to Enery himself who, in agreeing that candidates are being targeted with scandals, had this to say.

    “It has seriously hampered the professionalism & credibility of the election. It has led to a stronger call among the public for universal suffrage. The election should get back to the right track”.

    You couldn’t make this stuff up! “Leave me alone or God forbid, the public will want a vote” Whoever said that if voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal must have had HK in mind.

  18. mumphLT says:

    I don’t know what is worse – that they are so insulated from the realities of daily Hong Kong life for most of the population that they don’t know how totally out of touch & therefore uncaring they appear. Or they are so phuqing arrogant and self assured of their privileged position that they don’t give an ass how corrupt they are or appear to be?

    Some choice innit.

  19. Walter De Havilland says:

    I believe we got a tacit admission from Henry today that he has an illegitimate child. When asked about the matter he did not deny it, but responded ” I don’t want to hurt other parties” or words to that effect.

  20. Real Tax Payer says:

    Hey All , it’s been one of those days

    Just had time for q quick “AMEN” and down to doing some serious work to change bad to good

    I have no illusions that if CY scrapes in ( as I hope will be the case) he will face the uphill battle of his life , and the experience will probably break the guy, so he may not even last till 2017 so maybe we should actually let the orrible enery orse in this July so he can f**k up, as he did his wife, family, basement and now illegitimate kids

    Thus blast open the whole rotten affair, the cartels , them f*******g all

    ( including those with number plate 3888 )

    To think I pay my taxes for this whole F******G charade makes me sick

    But I do pay, and thus I have a genuine vote

    Look for me on July 1 at the front of the march ringing a huge swiss cowbell if enery wins – cow = bull = bull shit

  21. Real Tax Payer says:

    @ Maugrim, So So Thirsty, and so many others

    AMEN AND AMEN

    Can’t say much more without cluttering up this comment page today

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *