The long-overdue but still-improbable revolution that took place in Hong Kong in the first half of 2012 doesn’t have a name. For two decades Beijing had closely cultivated the city’s tycoons – to the extent of not merely indulging the property cartel’s parasitism upon the local community and economy, but institutionalizing it. Then, in the space of a few days last March, the Communist Party leadership coldly tossed its billionaire sycophants aside at the last minute and re-rigged the Chief Executive ‘election’ to ensure the victory of semi-populist semi-outsider CY Leung.
The tycoons’ puppet-candidate, dimwit textiles-empire scion Henry Tang, was already in disgrace for having an unauthorized extension beneath his home. In the weeks and months after the quasi-election, the law also turned on three property magnates – two of Sun Hung Kai’s Kwok brothers and Chinese Estates boss Joseph Lau.
While relieved that Beijing has finally broken the grip of the plutocrats, Hong Kong people are also nervous of exactly how populist or leftist or Maoist CY will be. They can be satisfied at having induced Beijing into abandoning the old tycoon-bureaucrat ‘elite’, but frustrated at knowing that they have little more influence over what is happening. And we are not even entirely sure what is happening. Legislator Regina Ip wrote in last Sunday’s South China Morning Post:
…more businessmen and former officials in the camp of disgraced chief executive hopeful Henry Tang Ying-yen are coming to grief over alleged corruption in Hong Kong or Macau… , fuelling a conspiracy theory that the retribution game is on. Whatever happened, call it retribution or simply the withdrawal of protection by the powers-that-be, a reshuffle of the deck upon the election of a new leader is likely to be the shape of things to come.
So the idea that ‘retribution’ is taking place is a conspiracy theory, but the notion that we are witnessing ‘withdrawal of protection by powers-that-be’ isn’t? Regina seems to be suggesting that leaders in China or Hong Kong knew that certain tycoons were corrupt but ensured that local law-enforcers held back. In Macau, whose prime role is money-launderer to Mainland gentry, that sounds all too believable. In Hong Kong, whose regulators, remember, turned in Sleaze City’s corrupt official Ao Man-long, we would like to think it is less so. Maybe Regina, who was Secretary for Security in the early 2000s when the tycoons were nagging Beijing to let them get their hooks deeper into the local administration, could tell us more.
I mention that Beijing has broken the grip of dimwit textile-empire scions. Not entirely true. One sad but inevitable measure following the 2012 Lychee Revolution is a bit of reconciliation to save the losers some face – hence CY’s presumed appointments and reappointments of some of outgoing CE Donald Tsang’s cronies to public office. Thus we turn to page 9 of the Standard this morning and see James Tien – the dimwit textile-empire scion’s dimwit textile-empire scion – unveiling some cretinously lame HK Tourism Board campaign.
It obviously made some marketing floozy really hot and breathless with excitement when her boss approved the Bouncy Wetland/Michael Jackson wax-figure idea to attract youngsters and families from short-haul markets like Malaysia and the Philippines. The bouncy wetland sounds like some inflatable thing you wouldn’t let your kids play on because of the mess, but that would be too much like fun; apparently it’s to do with mudskippers. Of course, the HKTB are trying to sell snow to Eskimos here: you get 10-foot-tall mudskippers down there in the tropics, and even the most easily amused Filipino won’t be impressed by our puny, and only half-slimy, local ones.
There’s some justice to this. The Hong Kong inbound tourism industry is essentially an extension of the property cartel, designed to enrich a handful of landlords while, at best, inconveniencing the other 99.99% of us. The more inept a job Tien’s HKTB does in attracting yet more visitors, the better off we will all be. Keep up the good work, James.