In bed with Commies? No big deal

The death in a local hospital of King George Tupou V of Tonga gets a bit of coverage in the Hong Kong press this morning – the subtext being that no-one knew the guy was ill, or happened to be in town, or (frankly) even existed. But anyone with an interest in the cosmic, fifth-dimension side of things may like to note that he will go down in history for having brought democracy to a smallish, former British colony in the Asia-Pacific.

Which leads us to the inescapable and hilarious chaos of the Hong Kong establishment civil war that has displaced what was supposed to be a neatly scripted Chief Executive quasi-election. This shambles would not and could not have happened were Beijing’s original intended appointee Henry Tang not a total klutz. The man’s ineptitude – or perhaps more accurately his advisors’ – was on full display over the weekend as people pondered his allegation during Friday’s debate that rival CY Leung mentioned the possibility of using riot police and tear gas against Article 23 demonstrators in 2003.

On the surface, this is a relatively clever little smear. It hits the Article 23 button; in local political mythology, the constitutionally required national security law is a demon that cannot be resurrected, or even mentioned. It hits the ‘CY is a creepy authoritarian’ button brilliantly; this is exactly the sort of thing we would expect the stereotype Leung, with his vague reputation for tyrannical leanings, to say. But the main result was to land Henry in the dirt for having breached the principle of the confidentiality of top government meetings.

Of course, if his advisors simply made the story up, he is not guilty of breaking the confidentiality rule – merely of lying. Several people present at Executive Council meetings at the time deny ever hearing CY say such things. Regina Ip manages to maintain that CY is innocent of the remarks but Henry is nonetheless still guilty of breaching the confidentiality principle. The logically impossible is so easy when you are fantasizing about Sunday’s CE poll producing no result, and Beijing plucking you from nowhere to win a second round.

Although it may well be that the ‘tear gas’ allegation is a fabrication, Henry obviously has to admit breaking the confidentiality rule, and he does so on grounds of public interest. But it’s not Zyklon B we’re talking about, and as Tung Chee-hwa discovered, the Hong Kong people will turf out a leader who threatens civil liberties. So: Henry as valiant whistleblower defending the right of Hongkongers to demonstrate without fear of excessive police force? Not very convincing. But nice try.

Being loyal to Beijing, Henry can hardly try to smear CY for his supposed Chinese Communist Party membership. But as luck would have it, yesterday saw the launch of a book doing just that. My spy at the event says the author, Florence Leung Mo-han, was a member of the Hok Yau Club, a United Front youth organization active back in the 60s, and provides a rather fetching photo of the lady. Eccentric and likeable loner, or superbly disguised secret Henry weapon? (It’s hard to imagine Henry’s team having the inspiration to come up with that wardrobe.)  

Mainlanders are always mystified as to why the CCP is such a sensitive topic in Hong Kong. Having had carnal relations for a while with a former Party member, I can attest that they are just normal people. CY Leung is and will be CY Leung whether he secretly belongs to an underground branch or not. Still, like the ‘tear gas’ story, the red scare might chip a couple more percentage points off his opinion poll rating.

Here is a good-as-any (and admirably succinct) summary of the factional struggle in China, and the parallels with the friction between the CY and Henry camps here in the Big Lychee. In a nutshell: our local division reflects the national one, but Hong Kong is a sideshow and the big boys in Beijing aren’t too fussed about which side our eventual CE represents.

Unless Regina’s dreams about blank ballots and a second quasi-election are to come true, Beijing has just a few days to indicate its preference to all those tragic Election Committee members still unsure who they should vote for. Henry needs a revelation – of midnight sacrificial pedophile vampirism proportions – to make CY more unacceptable than a philandering, basement-building spoilt rich dimwit. And he needs it… now.

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15 Responses to In bed with Commies? No big deal

  1. Joe Blow says:

    Such a wrong move, Vagina. By way of defending CY, you can forget about a cushy position in a Henry cabinet. Sometimes it is better to keep your trap shut, isn’t it ?

  2. Deep Throat says:

    Like the Labour Party in England, the CCP is about to be relaunched as New New CCP, complete with embarrassing detentions of tycoons and seizure of assets. The Chungking incident was just to test the waters. Most people liked it.

    So CY will have all the backing he needs to round up all the tycoons on his first day in office, nicely, on his thick red carpet, and tell them they way it’s going to be from now on.

    Now, for the last time, sell those shares and sell the flat too.

  3. Real Tax Payer says:

    Re today’s very last para from Hemlock : watch out for a forged letter from someone called Zinoviev this week….

    Or was that what ET tried on last friday?

  4. Mary Hinge says:

    “Of course, if his advisors simply made the story up, he is not guilty of breaking the confidentiality rule – merely of lying.”

    Well, um, lying AND tacitly admitting that the Exco confidentiality rules are as easy to ignore as the provisions of the Buildings Ordinance.

  5. Deep Throat says:

    Pardon the P.S. but…everybody’s doing it.

    David Cameron unveils plan to sell off the roads | Politics | The Guardian

    David Cameron will clear the way for a multibillion-pound semi-privatisation of trunk roads and motorways as he announces plans to allow sovereign wealth funds from countries such as China to lease roads in England.

    You see! The China tycoons are moving their assets already!

    Mmmm..Chinese roads…lovely.

  6. maugrim says:

    Leung probably went up a peg or two with the Central Government following Tang’s accusation. Who is worse off? There are suspicions about Leung’s views now possibly given some clout, but in the end, all spat out by a proven liar who not only ignores conventions but hides behind his wife. Tang lost that one.

    The fact that Leung is aloof and doesn’t hang out with the usual crowd of developers and their ‘homies’ drinking wine and carving up HK is some consolation. Who knows what will happen? Either way I hope HK is in for a kick up the khyber.

  7. Old Bill says:

    The tear gas story is clearly a smear. The order to use tear gas ( it’s not actually a gas, it’s smoke) rests with the senior police officer on the ground at the time. That is clearly stated in the protocols that existed when I left the job and I don’t think anything has changed. The intent behind the orders is that the cops on the ground make the decision, can be held accountable and must be prepared to explain their actions. It’s a tried and tested system.

  8. Big Al says:

    It seems to me that Henry’s “advisors” are actually Leung’s people, infiltrated into Henry’s campaign team. Their mission is to make Henry seem a bigger buffoon than he already is, which is no mean feat. So far, so good. I’m just waiting for them to launch the coup de grâce towards the end of this week – say, Thursday – so I can enjoy the Sevens weekend and the EC will know exactly who to vote for. Then we can all return to reality on Monday with hangovers and with the CE election having come to a painful close.

  9. Stephen says:

    You have got to wonder about the campaign team the Horse has assembled, stupid or what? I suppose they thought this was going to be walk in the park (not that we too many parks in HK).

    Your fed a juicy little tale containing all the right ingredients – Article 23, The fabled march of half a million, The Evil Card Carrying Wolf, Tear Gas, Riot Police – but instead of one of your campaign team anonymously feeding this to a grateful Tobacco Charles organ you spit it out in public debate ! All CY has to say (which Vagina and Joseph) have already effectively said is we can’t comment

    The result has been over for some time but the Horse doesn’t stop entertaining us – good on him and I’ll miss him …

  10. isomoliu says:

    The spoilt rich dimwit is advised by a team of spoilt rich dimwits. The specimen standing behind the Horse at the press conference after the debate makes the latter looks like a Mensa member.

  11. Real Tax Payer says:

    @ isomoliu

    Now that’s a very unfair slur on Mensa members : even they don’t look that daft 🙂

    PS: Chinese running Britain’s motorways ? ! Better make sure they don’t allow little old men on pushbikes with load of live chickens on the back to cycle the wrong way in the fast lane ….

  12. Claw says:

    Old Bill,

    You are, no doubt, quite correct, but that would not prevent a senior civil servant, minister or Exco member suggesting that the Police should follow a particular course of action. Hopefully his or her suggestion would be immediately squelched by those around him who were better clued-in.

  13. Chopped Onions says:

    Its seems that the chinese can be trusted to continue the fine tradition of quality road surfaces found in the UK today….

  14. Old Bill says:

    @Claw. I accept the point. My only experience in this regard was during a riot at a Vietnamese Detention Centre in the 1980s, when an official stated that tear gas must not be used for fear of adverse publicity. When advised this was not his prerogative, he pressed the point. A crusty ‘long in the tooth’ senior officer stated he would be happy to accept such an order, in writing and duly signed. He went on to comment that on receipt of such an order he would be left with no alternative but to authorize the use of baton rounds. The matter was never raised again.

  15. Real Tax Payer says:

    Read David Webb’s latest webbsite news out today re the York Road issue and why it must be followed up

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