Bye-Bye Donald Weekend begins

The South China Morning Post celebrates the 15th anniversary of the handover with a magazine supplement cover that surely qualifies for Most Grotesque and Inept Graphic Design Concept of the Year Award: the official stylized bauhinia flower growing out of ‘roots’ in the shape of a British flag. It’s so bad, it’s hard not to grin.

Opening the ultra-glossy publication, I expect to find pages of advertisements for ugly watches with funny European brand names. But the ads are almost all from the big property developers, offering congratulations (to whom?) on the occasion. (One is from UGL Services/DTZ, which sounds like it’s related to new Chief Executive CY Leung; another is from the Kerry group, run by the SCMP’s owners, the Kuok family.) The features cover an almost clichéd selection of subjects, from worsening quality of life, to the happy smiling People’s Liberation Army, to forecasts of the years ahead written by… fung shui ‘masters’.

This exciting souvenir is on-line, minus the print-edition’s cover artwork.

The alternative is to read about CY’s cabinet, announced better late than never yesterday. The Standard hilariously if unwittingly sums it all up by not even bothering to include a full list of the incoming administration’s top officials. You can tease the details from this morass of a press release, or refer to China Daily. The line-up has been pretty much common knowledge for several weeks.

The first thing we should note is that this is to some extent an interim arrangement. When the new CE gets his restructuring through the Legislative Council, some old faces will be replaced by new ones; for example, Home Affairs Secretary Tsang Tak-sing will presumably be vanished away as a glamorous new Culture Bureau boss comes sashaying in. Still, there is something mind-numbing about the familiarity of the faces and the preponderance of bureaucrats, many of them mature in years and a surprising number who are balding (perhaps to compensate for the lack of that other persecuted group, women). Many officials are simply staying in place, while some are returning to government after having left years ago and being partially forgotten. What new faces there are do not exactly get the heart racing.

The basic problem is that CY cannot choose from a wide sample of Hong Kong’s 7-million population.

Being a bit of a loner, he doesn’t personally know many people. Being loathed by the property tycoons and much of the Donald Tsang-era establishment, he is something of a pariah in many business and so-called ‘elite’ circles. Then there is the nature of the job; even if you like CY, why would you want to subject yourself to the trials by media, the tormenting by legislators and the scheming and foot-dragging by civil servants?

A lot of potentially suitable people can’t be considered. No whites or brown folk need apply. No-one with a foreign passport. No-one who can’t pass a probably-paranoid Beijing loyalty test – to weed out any US-backed Taiwan splittist who might overthrow the Communist Party from the Mid-Levels one night. No-one, or at least hardly anyone, who has hung out with the pan-democrats in the past, because it will upset the local patriots (who are mainly too unpolished and unworldly to be considered themselves). No-one with illegal structures or bastard offspring or other skeletons stashed away somewhere.

It’s amazing he could scrape this lot together…

If any appointment is guaranteed to make 7 million pairs of eyes roll in exasperation, it is that of John Tsang, who remains in the post of Financial Secretary. However, he could prove interesting – without meaning to, of course. As one of know-it-all Donald’s archetypal smug and self-satisfied sidekicks, J Tsang hardly produced those dreadful budgets every year all by himself. The mindless accumulation and hoarding of wealth and the idiotic annual one-off distributions of candy to the masses have Donald’s unimaginative stamp all over them. That’s not to say there’s a bold and original fiscal genius in John Tsang bursting to get out, but a new CE could easily arm-twist him in different directions.

With President Hu Jintao clogging up the traffic and plunging the police into blind panic, radical protestors demanding the right to screech at Hu in person and up-close, and forecasts of rain, I declare this three-day, Bye-Bye Donald Weekend open and best spent quietly at home.

Click to hear ‘Is There Anybody Here?’ by Phil Ochs?

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26 Responses to Bye-Bye Donald Weekend begins

  1. Peter says:

    “It’s so bad, it’s hard not to grin.” What’s exactly wrong with it? It looks nice and stylized and makes a good point.

  2. Real Tax Payer says:

    There is a small place called Hong Kong
    Donald ran it, not well, and too long
    “Our air is now foul”
    The citizens howl
    “So bye bye the duck” is their song

    ( Not very good – I’ll try to do better as the weekend progresses. I mean he deserves some kind of fitting tribute)

  3. Reductio says:

    Instead of “15 years on” perhaps it should “35 years to go”. We could get one of those countdown clocks going in Times Square.

  4. jing says:

    The SCMP can’t hang on to its graphic designers because it keeps them
    in a cubicle in Tai Po and treats them like slaves. Maybe the management
    made this cover monstrosity themselves or crowdsourced it to secondary schools.

    It screams sledgehammer politics – the British flag in tatters compared with the flourishing and smug Bauhinia.

    Grotesque, inept. A bit like the politics these past months.

  5. maugrim says:

    I saw Eddie Ng the other day, holding court with what could be described as a ‘shit eating grin’. lets see how long it lasts.

  6. Stephen says:

    It’s a good job that ‘No Whites’ can apply or it leaves the risk of allowing King of LKF Allen Semen into Government – as he’s so loved and respected by the community and has a SAR passport !

    Like 15 years ago it looks like the heavens are going to open which is perhaps a fitting tribute to The Chief Executive of the HKSARG Sir Donald Tsang GBM Twat.

  7. Slavia Wanderer says:

    Doesn’t bauhinia flower grow on tree instead of shooting out straight from the ground? And the “roots” look like lighting to me and the cover has a flare of alchemy. Other than that, the cover looks alright.

  8. Andrea says:

    “I expect to find pages of advertisements for ugly watches with funny European brand names.” – so funny! 😀

  9. PCC says:

    Dear Stephen,

    You are being too harsh on Eddie Ng. He is, after all, a respected human resources professional.

  10. PCC says:

    Sorry, my previous post was meant to be addressed to Mr. Maugrim.

  11. Vile says:

    Correct, Bauhinia blakeana is a tree, of the legume or pea family. Perhaps the image is intended to signify a sucker, or parasitic growth, feeding of the corpse of the former colony?

  12. Headache says:

    The SCuMP showing its true colours so soon after the self-censorship / editorial independence debacle. Typical propagandist behaviour. Admit / explain / retract nothing; hammer relentlessly on message.

    I can’t believe I used to defend this paper when people called it the Pro-China Morning Post. It has plummeted dramatically in my estimation in just a couple of weeks.

  13. Walter De Havilland says:

    The bauhinia flower is part of a tree.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bauhinia

    The SCMP Review Mag issued this morning amply demonstrates what is wrong with journalists in this town There is nothing with any depth or insightful analysis, just bland articles that look like PR releases. Perhaps that intentional, but journalist can hardly claim that they are being held back when they put their names to such mediocre articles.

    But it’s not all dull in the SCMP. Check out page C8 ‘Outstanding Young Salesperson Award’. Is Avery LO of CITIC Telecom wearing a hedgehog on his head?

  14. Peter says:

    “It screams sledgehammer politics – the British flag in tatters”

    Now I know why you brits hate that design so much. The British flag IS in tatters though. The empire fell and thanks to 9/11, the UK has some rather nasty anti terror laws that apply to many of its colonies too. HK was spared that thankfully and has a very hypersensitive population that is protective of their core values. Brits on the other hand are passive which is why parliament keeps stripping away those civil liberties.

  15. Old Timer says:

    I like the mag cover. Cut off the roots and the flower will die.

  16. Real Tax Payer says:

    There was a happy little quote somewhere today ( I thought it was by Hemlock , but on inspection I can’t find it in today’s Big Lychee) but it’s worthy of Hemlock and just about sums up the HK we have grown to love, warts, whiskers, illegal trellises and all

    “On July 1 we will celebrate in the morning, march in protest in the afternoon , and then all get together to enjoy a firework display in the evening”

    Where else but in HK could that happen?

    On balance, things could have been better 15 years on from 1997, but they could have been a helluva lot worse ( look at the UK banking scandals…)

    And the typhoon will help clean the air and hopefully cool things down for those marching on sunday ( not me )

    PS : In case you have not noticed, J. Lau has been charged with bribery and money laundering in Macau. Maybe that’s one less Rolls blocking the road outside the Fook Lam Moon in future

  17. No Future For You says:
  18. Real Tax Payer says:

    Old Sir Donald had a farm
    Ee-ai ee-ai oh
    And on that farm he had a duck
    Ee-ai ee-ai oh
    With a U-turn here , and more concrete there
    Here a tycoon , there a tycoon , everywhere a tycoon
    Old Sir Donald had a farm
    But we had no more air

  19. Baldleon says:

    White and brown people only make up about 5% of HK’s population. Assuming all other qualifications are equal and that there are no barriers to being selected as a member of the Cabinet, then statistically only one minority should be selected. Funny how in your article you made that the lack of white or brown faces as the first complaint.

    News flash: Brits don’t run the place anymore.

  20. pcrghlll says:

    I prefer the clerihew format:

    Donald Tsang
    Was possibly partial to a bung
    He sucked his host
    With more sanctimony than most

  21. Joe Blow says:

    Vagina Ip is OUT !!

    Okay CY, all the lying and posturing about your extensions and appendages is forgiven. You are the man.

  22. Real Tax Payer says:

    @pcrghlll

    Nice one : terse and dead on the point

    But I find it hard to cram what I want to say into super short lines

    I was inspired by the ” Long Island Limerick Competition” ( google that or check the web link below)

    http://politicalhumor.about.com/library/jokes/bljokelewinskylimerick.htm

    But on a rainy saturday when we are all at home perforce, and if it does not bore you all ( and if Hemmers approves it) one thought occurs to me:

    Yesterday was surreal.

    On the one hand the pro-dems, civics, people-power, bullshit supremos etc were still baying for CY’s blood /his stand-down/ whatever…

    Shikes – if this past month was his “honeymoon” then God help the guy if he skipped that phase in his new career as our CE

    On the other hand, Hu Jintao arrived HK dead on midday and will with 100.00000% certainty swear in CY tomorrow.

    So f**k all who oppose. BJ has made its choice and BJ’s will prevails.

    I somehow feel we miss the big picture – I mean THE real big picture. China does not think in days, weeks, years, or even decades. China thinks in centuries and China plans and works that way. And the guys running China not only have average IQs in the 180’s but they also know more about “politics” in is worst sense than almost any political leaders in the West : heck only the fittest get to the very top .

    Today’s HK politics (trellis-gate etc) is just the wimple on a dimple on a bee’s kneecap.

    My take is that BJ read the runes correctly and decided that HK could not take another 5 years of tycoon-agement . So time to ditch the tycoons as we approach 2017 and universal suffrage. Tycoons are now dinosaurs and deserve to be exterminated ( put the Kwoks in prison in HK and the awful J Lau in a Macau prison)
    Anyway, they were just pawns in the big game.

    Henry’s basement thing and his marriage infidelities were just by-the-by : he would have been ditched anyway / somehow by BJ. The fact that enery was such an arsehole only made it easier ( and more satisfying for those of us who just abhorred the idiot).

    I wonder if Hemlock’s classic piece in Time Out one year ago with the Warhol pics about Tang ” Our next CE” played a tiny role in this process.
    I like to think so.

    CY represents change . As to what that change will be, let’s see.

    His new exec team is hardly awe-inspiring : heck even the whiskered Tsang stays on as long as he has enough of the leetle grey cells going to throw a dart to predict our next budget deficit/surplus . But actually I think CY’s starting team shows some wisdom and realpolitik: it shows he has to start with what he has got, dry bones and all, and go from there step by step.

    I sense we are in for real change in the next 5 years and I personally embrace it.

  23. Reductio says:

    Badleon

    Civil servants make up about 2% of HK’s population. Therefore, there should be less than one civil servant (perhaps the lower torso to add some balls, if male) selected to the cabinet. Of course this assumes all other qualifications are equal. Taking the average civil servant’s intellectual/leadership/creative capabilities into account than would result in 0.0001 % civil servants in the new cabinet. Plus or minus.

  24. cnut says:

    Real Tax Payer, rhyme or no rhyme, hear! hear!

  25. Walter De Havilland says:

    DENG was once asked what he concluded from the French revolution. His response “Its too early to say”

    I agree RTP that BJ takes the long view, but its also true that a journey begins with one step.

  26. Real Tax Payer says:

    July 1

    15 down and 35 to go until we are one country / one system

    Today I opt to watch the march because (a) it goes past my home in Hennessy Road and (b) there’s nothing I particularly want to protest about

    CY is in . Tang and sir bow tie are both out ( and some tycoons are destined for prison )

    Even the air is clean for a day or two after the mini typhoon

    How much better can life get in the Big Lychee?

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