Coming September: HK’s (partially) non-quasi-election

The 2012 Legislative Council election race begins. Candidate nominations so far for geographical constituencies are here; ‘super-seats’ are here, and functional constituencies (not many right now) here. Why is the government listing the super-seats, officially the District Council (2nd) Functional Constituency, separately from the other FCs? It is a multi-member constituency, and it will be a universal-suffrage poll rather than a small-circle affair, so perhaps the tidy-minded bureaucrats instinctively felt it was different enough to form its own category.

The five super-seats will grab, or are grabbing, a disproportionate amount of attention. They are the result of Beijing’s extraordinary concession to the Democratic Party, presumably at the behest of then-Chief Executive Donald Tsang, to get a constitutional reform package through Legco two years ago. They form an FC as all candidates must be District Council members, yet they will be elected by the whole electorate (except those with existing FC votes). Needless to say, the concession was tweaked in the small print to minimize pro-democrats’ chances. In particular, the seats are at-large rather than divided along geographical constituency or other boundaries. Campaigning will take more resources, which favours the pro-Beijing camp.

The assumption is that being elected at-large, probably with hundreds of thousands of votes each, the five super-seat members will have an exceptional mandate of some sort. However, their voting power will be the same as any other legislators, and it’s arguable that people are getting a bit too worked up about these seats’ ‘super-ness’. Still, we’ll enter into the spirit of things.

Apart from the gruesome ‘media personality’ and former prison inmate Pamela Pak, all super-seat nominees as of this morning are from the well-organized DAB/FTU camp. It is quite possible that the top candidates in each DAB/FTU list will win a seat if the pro-Beijing establishment can guide voters’ behaviour to prevent everyone wasting votes on the same candidate/list. Lau Kong-wah is a popular veteran of the early democratic movement’s split; Starry Lee is the one oozing glamour and sexiness; the magnificent Chan Yuen-han is an authentic fighter for workers’ rights who manned the barricades alongside Longhair Leung Kwok-hung’s mother back in the days when factory workers did seven-day weeks.

The pro-democrats will of course go for the anti-charisma vote, probably with Democratic Party boss Albert Ho and sidekick James To, along with Frederick Fung, the moderate who resigned from the Equal Opportunities Commission a few days ago in a tiresome fit of pique. With such a feeble line-up, it is not impossible for someone more exotic (but not embalmed like Pamela Pak) to scrape in. And this may be a way for China’s newest citizen, Paul Zimmerman of Southern District, to get into Legco.

The alternative is for him to run as an Independent on Hong Kong Island, but that could cannibalize his Civic Party buddies’ share of the vote. You could ask why, if Zimmerman seems likely to attract more votes in the Island constituency, the CP are nominating someone else.*  The fact is that this sort of thing is going on throughout the pan-democratic camp all over Hong Kong. Too many parties with too many chiefs.

Even if and when mainstream pan-democrats agree on not competing too much with each other in the geographical constituencies, the conflict between the DAB faction and the pan-dems remains. This is going to be seriously bitter, with Chief Executive CY Leung’s popularity, or lack thereof, playing a key role. Beijing’s local officials will be pulling strings (if not organizing outright vote-rigging), and you can be sure they are already finalizing their extra big list of pro-democrats’ extra-marital affairs and, in response to a recent surge in popular demand, illegal structures.

Some functional constituencies might see interesting fights (Margaret Ng is standing down in the Legal FC), and the super-seats will have a high profile. But the geographical constituencies will be the main battlefield, and the fight could be Hong Kong’s dirtiest ever. Enjoy! 

Click to hear ‘Little Margaret’ by Obray Ramsey!

* That is, he wouldn’t run as an Independent if he thought he wouldn’t win, and his fear of cannibalization suggests that it would be at the expense of the CP’s (by definition less-popular) number-two candidate. In other words, who’s Kenneth Chan?

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19 Responses to Coming September: HK’s (partially) non-quasi-election

  1. PropertyDeveloper says:

    “You could ask why, if Zimmerman seems likely to attract more votes in the Island constituency, the CP are nominating someone else”: do you have any basis for this interesting assertion?

  2. Old Timer says:

    I suspect there will be as much indignance felt in some quarters at the idea of Zimmerman getting into Legco as there was back in 1880 when Ng Choy became the first ‘chinaman’ to join it (appointed).

  3. Bela awakes and says:

    But we have more choice than the Americans.

  4. PropertyDeveloper says:

    Thanks for the clarification, in the added footnote. I know Kenneth Chan Ka Lok personally: although admittedly he has a low public profile, he’s immensely hard-working and knowledgeable about international politics.

  5. Aghast says:

    There was a thrilling but short lived report yesterday that Henry Tang was going for an FC. Sorry it doesn’t seem to be true.

  6. Real Tax Payer says:

    I appreciate that Hemlock does a great deal of work every morning to analyze the day’s news and try his best to present the issues in a way that a person with average intelligence can read, mark, learn and inwardly digest. And indeed he does this great success, for which much thanks

    But I must admit I’m already totally confused about the new super seats and who is why or which or what ( or the Akond of Swat)

    I have no idea how the average HK citizen can make up his/ her mind, unless they are mindlessly herded into the poll booths by the same DAB whip masters whom I saw drumming up a mini -march in Southorn Playground yesterday that consisted of grannies so old that they would make even an embalmed Pamela Pak look like a vestal virgin

  7. Stephen says:

    I hope the Pro-Dem’s (although I doubt it) grasp the importance of this election. The CCP will be pulling out all the stops to make sure they do not get the one third of seats required to veto CY’s forthcoming political reform bill. A bill, I fear, which will be as insipid as Donald’s.

    Looking forward to Zimmy having a run and not hearing the usual anti-whitey snide remarks from those who really should know better. FFS It’s 2012 !

  8. Probably says:

    Paul Zimmerman for CE 2017 anyone?

  9. maugrim says:

    Does Audrey know where the New Territories are? More to the point WTF is she doing campaigning there? Pamela Peck/Pak looks like she rides around on a broom. As to Zimmerman Im a whitey who doesn’t vote on race based grounds alone, so it would take some convincing as to why I should vote for him over other candidates such as the deeply dippy Tanya Chan.

  10. Iffy says:

    In Margaret Ng’s retirement, Huen Wong finally has what he’s been waiting for, and he wouldn’t have declared his candidacy unless he knew he had the numbers to take the seat. That is politics in our venerable and respectable solicitors’ profession.

  11. Mary Hinge says:

    Never before has there been so much hot air over a rubber stamp.

    Here’s hoping that Paul Zimmer-frame gets in, though. Actually, stuff the legislature; he and his compatriot (although, can we say that now?) Jake Camper-Van from the SCMP would be just the kind of partnership HK needs at the helm of its executive government.

    “Less gobbledegook, more double-Dutch!” – what a rallying cry that would be.

  12. That Obray Ramsey chap, does he entertain the West Virginia branch of the Hemlock clan? Great stuff. Thanks!

  13. Chimp says:

    Who the heck is Paul Zimmerman? AFAIK, he has never starred in a drama series. Probably can’t even fucking sing. Wonder if he has a trellis…

  14. Real Tax Payer says:

    Ah….. we are talking about Paul Zimmerman, the handsome guy with a beard.

    I was thinking we were talking about Alan “Mini-Dr Evil ” Zeeeeman ( groovy baby)

    Paul Z strikes me as very sensible and intelligent guy, and likewise Jake Vd K ( did you read his repartee to the HSBC /Mexico thing ? I will post it later tonight for those who may have missed it if I get a seconder)

    And Tom Holland would make a far better FS than the whiskered dimwit we have inherited from U-Turn Don’s reign.

  15. Real Scot Player says:

    @ RTP


  16. Iffy says:

    I’ve beered with Tom Holland on more than one occasion, and I can assure you he is the real deal.

    And, lest anyone question my qualification to comment, I’ve also tippled with the abovementioned H Wong.

    As for my repeat commenting on the one Hemmers blog, I would attribute that too to the fact that I’ve had a few.

    Just another day at the office.

  17. Caroni Ma says:

    Pam Pak and Chim Pui-chung are both convicted felons. Fine bunch of people we got here.

    But more importantly: where is Bunny Chan ?

  18. Real Tax Payer says:

    A convenient scapegoat apologises
    HSBC takes the blame for role in dirty money that law enforcement agencies failed to clean up
    Jake van der Kamp
    Jul 19, 2012

    HSBC says sorry to senate for drug money blunders
    SCMP headline, July 18
    Let’s examine a little more closely just what it is that HSBC is said to have done. Here are some of the accusations from yesterday’s news accounts:

    The bank had routinely acted as a financier to clients routing funds from the world’s most dangerous corners including Mexico, Iran and Syria.

    So Mexico is a corner now instead of a country, is it? What an apt choice of word for a national libel. And it’s not only a corner, nasty dark things full of creepy crawlies these corners, it’s also a “most dangerous” one. I had better tell my sister. She regularly goes there for holidays and keeps telling me I should come along.

    But just who has determined that it is officially “most dangerous” and since when has it been illegal for banks to operate in countries that this unknown entity has labelled as “most dangerous”? Is it truly an offence to have clients who route funds from Mexico? Where is this an offence?

    HSBC should also close its accounts with banks suspected of providing funding to terrorist groups, [Senator Carl] Levin said.

    Certainly, Senator, and could you now please provide HSBC with a list of these banks? Could you also please provide it with indemnities against any defamation lawsuits it may incur when it turns out that some of the suspects on your list are entirely innocent of terrorism?

    Terrorists don’t rely much on bank funding. They need little money for their attacks and what they need they can access through private channels. If they do it through banks it’s indistinguishable from the normal business of small commercial customers.

    The Senate report said HSBC had little oversight of client accounts housed in a shell operation in the Cayman Islands, well known for offering secret accounts and a limited tax regime.

    Note that word “shell”. It does alternative duty with the word “corner”. Note also the juxtaposition of “well known” and “secret”. Some secret.

    But is it an offence for US citizens to maintain bank accounts in the Caymans or to benefit from a limited tax regime? If so, it is the job of US law enforcement agencies to take action against the Caymans. HSBC does not have police powers in the US. If it is not an offence, then HSBC is free to accept American clients for its Cayman Islands branch.

    The Senate report detailed how, between 2007 and 2008, HSBC’s Mexican operations moved US$7 billion into the bank’s US operations. According to the report, both Mexican and US authorities warned HSBC that the amount of money could only have reached such a level if it was tied to illegal narcotics proceeds.

    Why in that case did these authorities not take direct action against the narcotics traffickers involved? If they have evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that anything Mexican in the billions is drug money, what were their police forces doing?

    Once again, the basic difficulty here is that US authorities are asking a commercial bank to do the impossible. They expect it to front up their law enforcement efforts for them without giving it any powers to do so or workable definitions of what constitutes breaches of the law.

    The bank has no problem dealing with precise directives. Tell it that it may not accept deposits in Mexico for accounts in the US of more than US$1 million per transaction or per day per client and it will follow that directive precisely. But tell it that its job is to head off the bad guys at the OK Corral and you just get a lot of head-scratching.

    [The Senate report] also examined banking HSBC did in Saudi Arabia with Al Rhaji Bank, which the report said has links to financing terrorism.

    Got an idea for you, Senator. Target your drone bombers on Al Rhaji Bank. It may be murder without trial on non-sovereign soil but your spy agencies do it all the time and no one has taken them to the International Court of Justice yet. Just whip up a report from anonymous sources who say there are links. It was enough to stage an Iraq war. It should be more than enough to splat a Saudi bank.

    And here is the surprising thing in this story. HSBC has apologised to these arrogant and conceited politicians for not doing what they failed to do and what it cannot do.

    [email protected]

  19. Jon Dica says:

    If you do an image search for Starry Chan, this is the fifth result:

    Lookin’ good, Starry…

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