Everyone is beating up Chief Executive Donald Tsang over his US$6,900 presidential suite in a Brasilia hotel – even Sir Bow-Tie is joining in, having now reported himself to the government auditor. His bag-carrier, Professor (it says here) Gabriel Leung, does a fine job evading the question of whether Donald actually used the suite’s vast and supposedly essential conference facilities, and suggesting that our CE needed the gold-plated toilets and other trimmings at the Royal Tulip Brasilia Alvorada because Latin American cities are so dirty, violent and generally icky.
Inevitably, we ask why what is essentially a super-mayor of a city of 7 million needs to travel overseas so much. With no defence or foreign policy responsibilities, Donald’s frequent and far-ranging tours abroad usually focus on trade promotion. But even these are arguably unnecessary. Hong Kong has no protectionist barriers or tariffs, its port is excellent, it has good legal and regulatory systems, and tax is low: what more trade promotion could you want?
Cynics say he just likes all the first-class, red-carpet luxury and mutual groveling that takes place during such jaunts. The more humane among us may wonder whether it is push, rather than pull, factors at work. Donald and his colleagues are so unpopular, so despised, by their citizens that they feel forced to flee into the embrace of speech-giving, agreement-signing Chileans, New Zealanders and the like, thousands of miles away.
Proof 1: Environment Secretary Edward Yau, the most unpopular senior official apart from Stephen Lam, John Tsang, [insert whole list], is currently in plucky little Denmark, apparently discussing co-operation on green tech with various blond people. As we speak, he is about to set off for the snow-swept, reindeer-infested wastes of Malmo, Sweden. (No word on his hotel arrangements.)
Proof 2: the aforementioned Financial Secretary John Tsang is currently on a tour of his own, which started in Vietnam. If it’s Wednesday, this must be Malaysia, where he is blathering away about the myth that is liberalization of the Renminbi with colleagues of people who take bribes from French submarine-makers. Right now, he’s off to Thailand. (Again, details of his accommodation are left to our imagination, though his assistants have apparently been trawling the Internet looking for suitable options.)
A columnist somewhere – probably the South China Morning Post – recently suggested that CE-elect CY Leung should start his term of office with multiple foreign trips to raise his and the city’s international profile. People overseas don’t know who he is, said the writer. The fact is that people here don’t know who he is either, and it’s probably best to work on them first. To this end, CY unveils his new CE-elect website, complete with a sunny photo of himself sporting a superbly PhotoShopped warm grin. No bow-tie-type sleaze here: every last orchid is declared.
His and Hong Kong’s international profile will depend not on exchanging gifts with Scandinavian trash recyclers but on what he does in the city itself. To get Hong Kong back on track, he has to make fundamental reforms. It means offering people and groups new incentives to behave, or not behave, in particular economic ways. It means abandoning a concept of government as guardian of wealth and space that must not be frittered away in the service of the burdensome population. It means offending vested interests on a scale not seen since Margaret Thatcher. The bureaucracy alone will have numerous opportunities to hinder, deflect and wear down his efforts. How great will be the temptation to hop on a jet and talk Islamic banking or Renminbi blah-blah with South Americans in – or out of – a luxury hotel suite?
One observation, if I may. In August 2010, as the Manilla bus siege unfolded Donald attempted to call the President of the Phillipines, but was not put through because the operators did not recognize him. As a consequence some LegCo members mocked Donald and told him he needed a higher profile on the world stage if he was to represent Hong Kong, and protect it’s people. The same LegCo members are now critical of him going overseas to enhance his profile.
I’m no fan of Donald, but this is just ‘jumping on the political bandwagon.’
CY looks absolutely fabulous! Success is a fanny magnet.
I’ve already told you about the difficulties vampires experience when travelling. That wasn’t a joke either.
CY will spend nearly all of his time in Hong Kong, planning the incarceration of more seedy tycoons and grasping civil servants, the restriction of immigration, the provision of affordable housing, the vetoing of pointless infrastructure projects, the seizure of the the commanding heights of the economy, the redistribution of wealth and other enlightened Marxist populist measures PROFESSIONAL politicians propound when they are in power.
Sadly, for most of the readers of your diurnal columnette, this means pure disaster. For the undead and for socialists, it is a time to dust off the Carmen Miranda records and take to Vinho Verde, Muscadet or Cava as Champagne becomes increasingly prohibitively priced. We all have to suffer for the revolution.
From this week’s environmental news :
1. People in Wales recycled 49% of their waste between October and December 2011. This is a record increase of 6% against the same three months in 2010.
2. Air pollution causes 13,000 premature deaths per year in the UK
3. The UK waste sector could produce 84,000 new jobs and also 15% of the UK’s renewable energy
I trust that Edward Yau is high up on the list of the duck-out era officials to be impaled.
To add to WDH’s comment above, we also have a particular habit in HK of a scandal du jour that concerns something that has been going on for yonks, but is random in the way it blows up and then is quickly forgotten about.
Tsang is a toad but Government Ministers have long been making pointless speeches in neighbouring countries , hence Cathay’s list of VIPs which includes high ranked Civil Service members and the separate customs facility at CLK where they dont have to be processed with the masses. My point is if HK truly believes that such behaviour is poor, then be consistent, have a look at the whole shebang, aircon allowances the lot. Its pointless for the populace to tut today and then forget tomorrow as if nothing has happened. Winky and her friends know that all they have to do is wait and life will resume as normal.
Re Edward “Let’s Build a Bloody Massive Incinerator on Shek Kwu Chau” Lau’s Scandinavia jaunt, I’d pay good money to see Anders Brevik use the dim-witted concrete launderer for a bit of target practice.
Maugrim, the link provided by Big Al the other day – http://www.csb.gov.hk/english/csr/files/note060404e.pdf – suggested that the air conditioning allowance was to be abolished.
It will be sad to lose such a convenient and satisfying target for scorn, outrage and satire. A bit like when Singapore finally decriminalised oral sex just a couple of years ago.
@Cantanga … whatever
Let’s hope that Anders has a telescpic lens, since he’s in Norway, not Sweden, but point taken.
Also, aren’t “one heart, one vision” Queen lyrics? Maybe the ICAC should investigate quicker than we can say copyright infringement?
@ Big Al
I think Anders would miss if he were to aim at Sweden as the good Mr. Lau is in Denmark, not Sweden or Norway. But feeding Eddie into his own incinerator would be much more satisfying than merely being popped by a racist nutter.
Has Edward Yau gone to Europe to remind himself what a blue sky looks like? That’s how we know the CY picture is photoshopped – he would have been in short trousers the last time the view was that good!
Again with the Margaret Thatcher comparison…
Except CY is exactly the opposite. He wants a greater role for Government, not less.
Does anyone here remember that bar or resto in a hotel (Mandarin or Hilton, I think) that was off limits to wimmin until as late as the 1980’s ?
yes it is. Queen had a running gag, one heart one soul one sex position. Im surprised CY didn’t also purloin that.
Tse, noted, but luckily various allowances including education both domestic and foreign remain.
Is the man with the purple tie, to the left of Eddie, in above photo Nicholas Brooke ? All round property supremo and future Head of the Harbour Authority.
Much as we hate John Tsang, Ming Pao quote a source that John will probably keep his job. Let’s hope the source doesn’t have the faintest clue …
@ Slavia Wanderer
I assume you mean “doesn’t have the faintest clue” as in “John Tsang doesn’t have the faintest clue”
An alternative reading might be that because John Tsang doesn’t actually do anything useful as FS it might be that CY intends to keep him on with the title of FS just to keep the peace with the civil service, but also appoint a young mainlander with a college degree in economics and finance – or Tom Holland or Jake van der Kamp – to actually do the work and make the decisions
IOf course CY could go to the extreme and just hire a monkey to throw darts to predict the next annual budget surplus )
Meanwhile we have NO news about Henry. Has his wife rolled him up in a carpet and dumped him in his basement?
@ Joe Blow
I think it was the Chinnery at the Mandarin.
Someone other than me who’s a Be Bop Deluxe fan – a first.