And if you think you’ve got problems, take a look at this person’s weight situation – about five seconds will be enough.
It all puts the formation of Hong Kong’s next government into context. Not everyone may welcome the prospect of ex-Security Secretary Regina Ip getting her Machiavellian ambition behind the closed doors of the Executive Council, but things could be worse. China Daily summarizes the tally (all officially just rumours) so far: Carrie Lam as Chief Secretary, Rimsky Yuen at Justice, and so on. The Standard adds a few more: Ko Wing-man as Secretary for Food and Health; once-Education Secretary Arthur Li displacing the (once-) ubiquitous Anthony Wu as Hospital Authority chairman; lawmaker Jeffrey Lam as an unofficial member of Exco.
Ko goes back a while. Professor of medicine Arthur Li’s main achievement as Education Secretary under Tung Chee-hwa was overruling panicky parents and ordering all the kids back to school after the first week or so of full-blown SARS panic. A breath of sanity and calm. He also introduced kindergarten vouchers, an equally rare stab at a market-based solution to inequality. Lam presumably gets onto Exco at the behest of Beijing in the interests of ‘harmony’ – a sop to the Liberal Party/Economic Synergy/inherited-wealth faction who did all they could to get Henry Tang into office.
There are still some gaps. Will Tsang Tak-sing, Donald Tsang’s token out-of-the-closet Communist loyalist, stay on at Home Affairs? And what will the Home Affairs Bureau be doing? If the new Culture Bureau takes over the museums, it will be very quiet in there, dreaming up slogans about the dangers of excessive gambling and the joys of multi-ethnicity.
The South China Morning Post focuses on the most crucial appointment the new administration has to make: chairman of Ocean Park, and will pro-Henry businessman Allan Zeman keep the job? My inclination would be to close the place, auction the panda bears and aquarium off to exotic restaurants and use the land for something useful – hopefully something that repels, rather than attracts, tourists. But don’t mock the SCMP’s headline suggesting popular demand for keeping Zeman. It’s true.
In a discreet branch of Pacific Coffee known only to me and about five others this morning, I couldn’t help but overhear a conversation between a rich, bossy British woman with an ‘expat accent’ and her iPad-tapping teenage daughter about the possibility that CY Leung would discard the Lan Kwai Fong landlord. The girl in particular seemed most concerned about the idea of Ocean Park without Zeman at the helm. Even the Filipino maid, trying to fend off incessant offers of cakes and sandwiches from her ma’am, joined in, saying how much her own kids had liked the place. Up on the Peak, this will make or break the new administration.
Leaving the billionaire panda and beer merchant aside, CY’s alleged line-up taken as a whole looks disappointingly like ‘more of the same’ – so grey that Ada Wong, a barrister, looks refreshing and original. CY may have a problem attracting, or even considering, certain people because many tycoons and bureaucrats hate him. He’s not the back-slapping networking, friend-making type, so it’s not like he has a long list of personal contacts to help him out. There is also the problem of Beijing and its positive-vetting approach to approving appointments; many political and even personal backgrounds probably just aren’t acceptable. Not least, there is a class- or caste-type hierarchy; it’s fine to have been born into public or police housing, but if you haven’t risen into a fairly narrowly defined bracket of material success, you don’t cut it. Tsang Tak-sing barely fits in with his non-job. It’s hard to imagine someone along the lines of, say, labour activist Chan Yuen-han joining the pearl-bedecked, handbag-carrying ranks of policymakers. Too earthy.
Seven million people to choose from, and it still keeps coming back to yet another uninspiring un-dream team. Just as well we don’t have other people’s problems.