The enigma of the world’s least popular populist

If the New York Times says that Beijing has dumped the tycoons’ choice in favour of a ‘populist’ as Hong Kong’s next Chief Executive, it must be true. Yet this is a populist few seem to like.

Vintage pro-democrat Martin Lee claims appointment of the alleged card-carrying Communist CY Leung will violate the spirit of the Basic Law and endanger rule of law. Former Chief Secretary-turned-democrat Anson Chan says CY is a chameleon who doesn’t share Hong Kong’s core values. The Civic Party’s Alan Leong declares that CY sends shivers down his spine. The Democratic Party’s Albert Ho warns that CY in power will be “ruthless … unscrupulous and reckless and may be bold enough to do many things.”

Bold enough to do things? Gulp. If (and it is at least a medium-size if) Hong Kong is witnessing the toppling of its fundamentally corrupt coalition between parasitical tycoons and self-serving bureaucrats, the pan-democrats’ complaints raise a couple of questions.

The first is: what did the pan-democratic camp contribute to this fight to break the tycoons’ grip? The answer is nothing; they have spent 15 years getting nowhere towards universal suffrage while the property cartel and friends have been merrily plundering away.

The second is: how much are we willing to give up in terms of core values in exchange for having a fairer, less-feudal economic structure? Of course, there is no reason in theory why there must be such a trade-off. “You can have affordable homes provided you pass the Article 23 national security law” sounds illogical. So does, “You can have better help for the elderly and better health care provided you accept restrictions on press freedom.” Yet that, the pan-democrats seem to imply, seems to be the deal, and we might hazard a guess that pullers of strings in Beijing’s Hong Kong Liaison Office wouldn’t see anything wrong with such realpolitik.

CY certainly frightens the tycoons and establishment. Mega-plutocrat Li Ka-shing will vote for Henry regardless of what Beijing’s officials advise. Henry’s former partners in the Liberal Party refuse to vote for CY – even if, ludicrously, they can’t bring themselves to stand by the pitiful, philandering basement-builder. Former legislator Rita Fan echoes mutterings heard throughout the Big Lychee’s ‘elites’ today about how CY will lack credibility in office (just as much as Henry would have – that’s what they are reassuring one another, even though scandals and smears have left Leung far less damaged). Some still hope for a hung result and a fresh ‘election’. This suggests that CY really does pose a threat to property hegemony, collusion and other evils.

Which is great. But what, if any, price will there be to pay in terms of the ‘core values’ that protect our rights and freedoms? The sensitivity surrounding Article 23 has made rational debate on the thing very difficult. Seen as a symbolic re-statement of existing laws against theft and violence in a national security context, you could say it is a bogeyman used by pro-democrats to frighten us all. Or maybe it really is a way to enable a clampdown on dissidents. And of course if the crushing of Hong Kong’s un-Chinese liberties is so important, there are plenty of other ways to do it, bit by bit, here and there.

Yet Hong Kong people have a track record of getting very touchy when core values seem under threat; look at the backlash against poor CE Donald Tsang after his luxury jet trips came to light. Mainland officials might like the idea of ‘integrating’ our culture of protest and dissent out of existence, but they also want the Big Lychee to be basically untroublesome. CY, with an eye on victory in 2017, presumably feels the same.

His reputation as an authoritarian largely comes down to appearances. He got into Communist-ruled China in the late 1970s, when it was still extremely unfashionable, indeed suspect, to do so. It wasn’t just eccentric but almost sinister. And of course he physically looks the part, with that austere demeanor and those creepy eyes. But the only firm evidence we have at hand is this list of insults about CY’s supposed tyranny as Chairman of City University’s Council. Either he turned the place into hell (as the document says) and the Hong Kong media failed to pick up on the outrage – or certain people didn’t get their way on staff perks and department budgets and have been frothing at the mouth about it as only academics can. Who knows?

However – a valuable clue about the real CY has just come to light (so to speak). CY’s team is cancelling an election rally tomorrow in Tsimshatsui. Among the reasons given is the weather, which they say is forecast as ‘not good’. The Hong Kong Observatory, as of 10.15am, calls for above-average sunshine for the day. And the word is that every voter at the ‘election’ on Sunday will be issued with a string of garlic along with their ballot paper.

Click to hear Skip Bifferty’s ‘Man in Black’!


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19 Responses to The enigma of the world’s least popular populist

  1. Bela Lugosi says:

    One man’s night is another man’s daylight. Either can be deadly, as we all
    know so well in Transylvania.

    “In the past Hong Kong has enjoyed many blessings. But more recently in Hong Kong, there have been instances of elderly people getting embroiled in a scuffle fighting just for a piece of cardboard; more and more people have to live in caged homes and sub-divided units. Even professionals complain that they cannot afford a home. Why is it that Hong Kong has declined to such a situation?”

    That is the first paragraph of CY Leung’s recent closing speech.

    Embrace the night, my children. Some would call it a new dawn.

    “Hong Kong does not belong to a small number of people. Hong Kong belongs to seven million people. Our home is Hong Kong. We should not continue to idle our time away. How many five-year periods would we have?”


  2. Real Tax Payer says:

    Good one today Hemmers. Well balanced

    Why should there be any such trade-offs?

  3. PropertyDeveloper says:

    “To do things” is vernacular for to have sexual relations, so Albert is saying Leung will fxxx us.

    Never mind 2017, he’ll do well to get to mid-term, even supposing they manage to keep the lid on the mainland polity and the European economy.

  4. It’ll be an interesting LegCo, if the Functionals don’t operate as a reliable rubber stamp for LCY.

    And given Lau Wong-fat’s seal of approval for LCY, I’m far more skeptical about him being a saviour. More like a swap of one elite bourgeoisie for a Tsang Tak-sing/Lau Wong-fat led petit bourgeoisie.

    And if I worked at RTHK or in HK academia and drawn the ire of Ta Kung Pao/Wen Wei Po, I’d have my resumes on foreign desks by Friday morning.

  5. Frankie Fook-lun Leung says:

    According to Leung Mo Han who published a book on the underground communists in H K, CY Leung is an underground communist party member. If elected, it will be the end of the one country two systems.

  6. @propertydev

    Do things? Perhaps Albert and friends are suggesting that LCY and friends were part of the group that “engineered” the transfer of ATV from a Taiwan guy, who had Taiwan news channels broadcasting on HK free over-the-air digital TV, to a reliable mainlander, who replaced all of the Taiwan filth with reliable mainland news.

  7. Walter De Havilland says:

    Let’s be honest ‘one country, two systems’ was always a fudge … although a neat and well packaged way of getting people settled and reassured to go through the handover. Let’s also be clear, Hong Kong is a part of China, although with a largely different set of values. And there is the rub.

    I suspect it makes no difference whether CY of Henry gets the job as the real decisions are now being made elsewhere.

    With the so-called democrats fragmented nothing will change, although I suppose we will have to suffer more ranting from Emily L. I’m buying new ear plugs.

  8. @walter

    I’m pretty sure it makes a difference, otherwise LKS wouldn’t be so vocal in his support of HenryT. I’m just guessing that LKS is worrying that some of the deals he got in the pre-handover shakedown of non-Chinese companies might face a new round of shakedowns.

    We’ll probably get the same incinerators and third runways and bridges to nowhere and high-speed railways to connect to HSR systems that have ceased construction and land of the Morlocks underground caverns and pave everything from Pokfulam to Mui Wo, but the kickbacks from the projects will line a new set of pockets.

  9. Maugrim says:

    Some good points Hemmers. Where has the dem”s criticism of HK”s blood sucking oligopoly been? One has to question how tied they are also to wanting to ensure that the status quo remains. One question not asked is what is Leung”s motivation? This will provide a clue as to how he might govern. Tsang has small Chinese man syndrome, ie, wanting to only please his masters and it shows. Leung? Maybe Hemlock is right, who cares so long as there is progress?

  10. Joe Blow says:

    There is serious factional friction going on in Beijing right now: reformists, conservatives, leftists, the Party, the PLA, the Shanghai clique and a whole lot of other special-interest cliques, all circling each other. Those nice people at the Central Government’s Liaison Office are probably more clueless than we think.

    Maybe that’s why LKS found it necessary to speak up again at this moment.

  11. Walter De Havilland says:

    I’ve got to admit LKS position is baffling me. Surely he knows which side he is on or maybe we are in unchartered waters. What is clear is this has been an entertaining, engrossing episode, in Hong Kong’s history.

    What are we going to discuss next week once the fun is over?

  12. DaSiuYan says:

    Well, Long Hair and the LSD have consistently linked the need for universal suffrage in Hong Kong with the economic inequality brought on by tyranny of the tycoons. Just saying.

    I don’t see CY’s “populism” as anything more than a ploy to get himself elected. He’s a fully paid up CCP shill, and after his administration tosses some crumbs to the poor he will quickly press the boot on neck of the press, and perhaps even the courts.

    The disproportionate jail sentences handed down Tuesday to Long Hair and the students (for, essentially, breaking a doorhandle and a couple of potted plants) are a sign of things to come, I’m afraid.

  13. Real Tax Payer says:

    @ Maugrim

    Again some good points, of the same high level as Hemmer’s kick-off (it’s Sevens week-end )

    Personally I think that anyone LKS and his ilk vote for just has to be a bad thing. At least LKS is as consistent in his voting as he is in ripping us all off.

    Thus…. drawing inspiration from yesterday’s Mr Jam: ” There are only two kinds of people in the world : those who think HT is a bad thing and LKS”

  14. Hendrick says:

    Steve James kicked off his 3pm Radio 3 slot today with a hilarious CE/Sevens send up. It deserves an Grammy.

  15. Tony says:

    “Either he turned the place into hell (as the document says) and the Hong Kong media failed to pick up on the outrage”

    The media did not fail to pick this up: Check Google news for “”城大 / CityU” and you will find a litany of stories of suppression, white terror, lawyers’ letters and more.

  16. Real Tax Payer says:

    @ Hendrick

    You’re right about Steve James – hilarious ! Thanks for the tip

  17. Stephen says:

    One last comment from me before I turn my attention to the sevens.

    CY Leung is “accused” of being a paid up member of the CCP. So was CH Tung. So we have been there before and survived – just …

    WDH wonders what we will talk about next week – H. Tang’s admission to Siu Lam Hospital ?

    See you all there

  18. Real Tax Payer says:

    STOP PRESS ( friday AM)

    The site seems to be down all morning so far

    Is it under attack by HT’s men ( and wives)?

  19. Frankie Fook-lun Leung says:

    The Kwok brothers of Sun Hung Kai Properties and a former chief secretary were arrested on corruption charges. It signals that China’s style of corruption and abuse of power has extended its roots into H K.

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