Legco Election Excitement Mounts

The Wall Street Journal wishes us to know the truth about Hong Kong’s tycoons. It appears they are in fact selfless and would love to compete even harder to bring consumers the cheapest of groceries in the most hygienic of environments, if only the government would allow them. The article concludes that “as long as there are low barriers to entry, they will not be able to earn excess profits.” Which is of course exactly what those less enlightened than the WSJ thought these cartel-operators were doing (though possibly not specifically in the supermarket sector). Reuters confuses the issue by announcing the end of “obscene” profits for Hong Kong property firms. Maybe the last word should go to the reader of Time Out Hong Kong who, I recently heard, called the magazine to say that she had cried after reading February’s Hemlock mega-opus on the plutocracy.

We will each get a chance to make a small, and probably all-but pointless, individual comment next Sunday when Hong Kong holds its quadrennial Legislative Council election. The bewildering profusion of candidates, lists and parties, and the absurd size of geographical constituencies, threaten to make the process even more of a farce than ever. Opinion pollsters have virtually given up forecasting results because candidates could win with percentages of the vote not much bigger than the surveys’ statistical margins of error.

In Hong Kong Island, we have 14 individuals/groups running for seven seats. Three are the sort of deranged/loners/no-hopers you always get, with at least two leaning in a vaguely pan-democratic direction. That leaves:

Pan-democrats, in rough order of militancy…

Democratic Party (Sin Chung-kai et al)

Civic Party (Chans KL and Tanya)

Independent (Dr Lo Wing-lok)

Labour Party (Cyd Ho et al)

League of Social Democrats (Avery Ng)

People Power (bunch of people never previously heard of)

Pro-establishment, namely

make-believe Beijing loyalists…

Liberal Party (Miriam Lau)

New People’s Party (Regina Ip et al)

…and true CCP believers…

DAB (Christopher Chung plus six)

DAB again (Tsang Yok-sing running alone)

FTU (five not overly proletarian types in orange T-shirts)

Miriam Lau imagines that endorsements from former Legco president Rita Fan and billionaire landlord Allen Zeman will win votes. So we can be reasonably sure that people who like this sort of un-communist conservatism will flock to Regina.

On the other hand, the devout communist DAB-FTU – which operate as a bloc in Legco – would appear to be cannibalizing themselves. In their favour are the black hands of Beijing’s local Liaison Office, and organized and obedient followers who can be guided to divide votes among, say, family members. Even so, the FTU have turned up for the first time in Hong Kong Island to get votes, and could in theory spoil the DAB’s supposedly cunning attempt to maximize gains through having two lists – though the working class is so thin on the ground here that it may make little difference.

The real mess is in the pan-democratic camp. In theory, they could clean up by coordinating everything and dividing the constituency up among different party lists on, say, a district-by-district basis (1 campaigns for Wanchai, 2 campaigns for the Mid-Levels, etc). In practice, such a diverse group is bound to splinter – but this looks more like atomization. It is perfectly possible that Lo Wing-lok and Cyd Ho will both fail to get in and prevent one or two other pan-dems getting seats to boot. Alternatively, votes could miraculously be scattered in such a way that they all just scrape in.

Why did then-Constitutional Affairs Secretary Stephen Lam choose to expand the existing five geographical constituencies rather than accommodate extra Legco members though additional, but smaller, clusters of seats? (Or, more accurately, why did Beijing tell him to do so?) When they offer candidates a feasible chance to get elected with just 5% of the vote, geographical constituencies have become too big to rig.

Since Legco is rigged (and constitutionally weak) anyway, maybe Beijing prefers encouraging internecine strife among its dreaded pan-dem enemies. A group of youngsters are on hunger strike outside government headquarters over National Education. (It’s a Cantonese type of protest, in which they take it in turns to stop not-eating; no force-feeding required here.) If there were fewer pro-democratic groups vying for seats, such a protest, continuing as Election Day approaches, could inspire a game-changing turnout. As it is, any such effect will be dissipated. Even Miriam says no to National Education.

On a brighter, heart-warming note: In a touching tribute to the Special Olympics currently underway in London, Louis Vuitton are advertising their latest range of impractical but very noticeable ladies’ hats with mildly mentally retarded models…

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15 Responses to Legco Election Excitement Mounts

  1. Bela washes up the midnight snack dishes and says:

    Do you have elections, Mr Deng? Yes..every morning!

    Potti Sriramulu was an Indian revolutionary who died after undertaking a hunger strike for 58 days in 1952 after Indian independence in an attempt to achieve the formation of a separate state.

    On April 3, 1972, Pedro Luis Boitel, an imprisoned poet and dissident, declared himself on hunger strike. After 53 days on hunger strike, receiving only liquids, he died of starvation on May 25, 1972.

    Irish Republican Bobby Sands died on 5 May 1981 in Maze prison hospital after 66 days of hunger-striking, aged 27.

    Hong Kong hunger strikers usually start flaking out after missing two meals and have to be taken to hospital. Recently, legislators have taken to hunger striking for a certain period of the day, thus missing out on fish balls and squid skewers entirely.

    Hong Kongers are simply not up to fasting. Let’s have a shopping strike instead. Yes, it would be too unbearable for most people. Let’s boycott screen tapping then. Ten hours without a phone.

    Think of the pain.

  2. Maugrim says:

    This NME issue is growing every day. It’s almost like article 23 for the post 80’s/90 crowd. The level of distrust in the Government is amazing and unless properly addressed could spread to other issues such as the Shenzhen visa fracas. The best part of this? The Government (again) only have themselves to blame for the cack handed way it has been handled.Even Eddie Ng agreed that the source material for school was inappropriate. What’s the bet the Government will organise a boatload of olympic medal winners/astronauts to sail to the Pinnacles as a diversion just before the election?

  3. Incredulous says:

    The party that wants to win will only have to come up with with a strict anti-locust platform. End of.

  4. Big Al says:

    @Bela
    Spot on with hunger strikes, Hong Kong style, which is basically missing up to one meal per day with limited snacking inbetween. Mid-morning, people exclaim that the hunger strikers have had nothing to eat since breakfast! By mid-afternoon they are shocked that the hunger strikers have had nothing to eat since lunch!

    This is all the fault of the teachers, of course. I recall my kids having a “miss a meal” thing at school in which they skip lunch in order to save starving Africans, or something. In lieu of lunch, however, they get an enormous “snack bag” containg more food and calories than most starving Africans see in a week. Still, it’s the thought that counts …

  5. Chimp says:

    I think the student protest is superb. It has some nice cinematic touches (the red blindfolds… wonder if Zhang Yimou has been consulting). They are impervious to Euro style baton and CS gas charges, as the plod would refuse to do the business. It looks great on international TV, which has no effect on the Wolfman but gets right up the nose of his Mainland masters.

    I can see this being very, very interesting for our temporary CE.

  6. Real Tax Payer says:

    Oh dear, Oh dear …

    ….just mention yet again the tycoon – supermarket – oligarchy and RTP (that’s me , not Real Fax Paper or Real Sax Player) will go into outer orbit and become the 4th planet around the sun

    ( heck – that’s one place the IRD cannot mail me at, and as for the bloody cheek of asking me to pay for my own stamp to mail back my tax returns Sh *&^Bloo.. %$#@Fu.. $%^&*… cK ! )

    CALM DOWN ! Back to 3rd planet round the sun .

    Actually our Amah, bless her cotton socks, is under instruction to buy as much as possible from the wet markets and the NON- tycoon controlled mini- supermarket across the road in Wanchai

    But as to how to change things ?????

    The other week I passed a DAB rally in Southorn Playground which which with its huge flying banners looked more like Nuremberg in the mid 1930’s under the naziz. But at least it was peaceful

    Yesterday Southorn playground was full of the “Yellows” – the “People Power” extreme left wingers, and they were ranting on like frenzied hyaenas coming in for the kill round a wounded calf.

    Trust HK to ranting idiots like that and we are surely into deep deep sh1t

    And meanwhile the dozy pro-dems can’t even agree amongst themselves what “democracy” means Those dum dums could not organize a booze up in a beer factory

    So whom to vote for ? The graceful ex-con Madam P. Peck ?

    But there is tiny glimmer of hope from our new CE – elected: CY no less and his wilting team

    Have you noticed the fact that Cy and his team do at least ACKNOWLEDGE that there ARE problems in our society, crazy housing prices, filthy air, tycoon- oligarchy , whatever …?

    CY and his team haven’t ( yet ) got the foggiest idea of what to do about the problems * , but at least admitting that we DO have problems is a first step in the right direction , unlike Donald the “duck my head under the sand” Tsang who till his dying day will surely believe HK is all beds of roses and trilling birdies singing sweet refrains

    ______________

    * but then again neither do I nor do have most of educated HK unless it’s to lynch the tycoons ( well… lynch those tycoons who are not yet in prison or being charged in Macao for bribery)

  7. Stephen says:

    @Incredulous,

    Nobody wins but that’s the point and even if you could have a winner we will still be “executive led”

    I’m predicting same old, same old with the only slight interest being if the Pro-Dems retain their veto needed for when China / CY Leung put the latest “democratic” proposals to the legislature.

    If they do stalemate, if they don’t functionals – Which is better?

    In a different note I’m assuming a Tycoon has just taken out a huge advertising contract with the WSJ which is why they’ve written that puff piece?

  8. Walter De Havilland says:

    It’s a hunger strike between meals! Same thing happened with the Queens Pier protest … as soon as the press were gone congee was delivered. I suspect the tents are so the “hunger strikers” can slip inside for the occasional Big Mac or chicken leg away from prying eyes.

  9. Real Heck Sayer says:

    @ Bela

    For once I must agree with you:

    Let’s take away the strikers’ mobiles, ipads, ( and hello kitty dolls ? ) whatever

    THAT’s deprivation indeed . Even the RSPCA would get involved

    But thinking out loud, : what’s so wrong with national education ?

    Let it run loose and give every teacher freedom to discuss with his pupils what’s right and wrong with “The Nation” after going through the official BS .

    Let’s start with 1949 ( so far so good), the 100 flowers campaign ( not so good), Mao’s Great Famine ( definitely not good) , the CR ( bad…. very BAD), the death of Mao ( sad but not bad), the rise of Deng ( good), June 4th (bad), Deng’s Southern tour (good) the rise China in the world ( good) , Bo Xilai ( jury is out ) and finally today ‘s late breaking news about a F430 crash in BJ with a half naked son of a top Chinese politician at the wheel + a naked girl or two (bad… definitely bad, but still very current “national education” , from the driving seat, so to speak )

    Methinks national education is not such a bad thing.

    Imagine if Donald Duck’s son had been killed , half naked, in an F430 crash with a fully naked mongolian girl next to him …. would we have covered it ( him, her, the car) up and pretended it was actually the son of Robert Mugabe or Kim Jong Il ( or even worse …. Enery Tang ) ?

    Now that’s what I call National Education. Lessons from real life

    PS : Which half of the F430 driver was naked ? Top or bottom half ? Now that’s the kind of question our future students need to ask

  10. Spud says:

    I agree with Real Heck Sayer. This knee jerk reaction is so typical of HK to claim the victim and whine about something nobody really knows what it is about, and even so, what’s wrong with it anyway? If precious Biggles Chan or Spanky Ho becomes “brainwashed” then maybe it is through theirs and their parents stupidity.

    And please stop giving airtime to spotty clueless teenagers, who cares what they think!

  11. Real Sex Racer says:

    I want an F430 and a naked Mongolian girl. Damn Gini coefficient.

  12. PropertyDeveloper says:

    Thanks for highlighting the two ridiculous articles from the WSJ and Reuters: basically a depressing mixture of quarter-truths and govt/tycoon propaganda.

    it may be stretching things a little to say that CY was “elected”, despite RTP’s claim. Also, a clear solution to HK’s problems does exist: adhere to the Joint Declaration, and allow progress towards democracy and a legitimate government.

  13. Vile says:

    RHS: “Let it run loose and give every teacher freedom to discuss with his pupils what’s right and wrong with “The Nation” after going through the official BS .”

    Ah, I think I’ve spotted the flaw in your plan. You’ve used the word “discuss” there. Unlike brainwashing, discussion has never been part of the curriculum.

  14. paul says:

    All good, but Lo Wing Lok is not a democrat … check out http://www.elections.thehousenews.com (switch on your browser translator). As for who to vote for? If not yet decided, give Cyd a vote, she needs the help, and we all need more Democrats in LegCo as the next session decides on the political reforms….

  15. Chimp says:

    Linking NME to STRN’s is a bit dicey… Not sure if Spud and Real Heck Sayer get that. I don’t think anyone (well, the sane elements, anyway) disapprove of patriotic education. The thing is, no one believes it *is* patriotic education, and there seems to be a mounting body of evidence that suggests the majority view is correct.

    This is a bigger deal than it looks. Donald wrought well… sneaky fucker.

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