Victory goes to the disorganized, squabbling incompetents

I wonder how many people voted yesterday in Hong Kong’s Legislative Council election without having heard the news from the day before that the government had withdrawn its tragi-comic Moral and National Education plan. Except there is “no question of withdrawing this subject.” A useful little face-saver: MNE lives on for the handful of schools that wish to adopt it. Still, so much for the vital importance of “enabling students to be moral, think independently” and all the rest of the BS. This really was Son of Article 23 – a sacred duty to the nation unceremoniously scrunched up and tossed in the bin.

Although the timing of the climbdown looked desperate, Chief Executive CY Leung did a tolerable job of looking comfortable about it, essentially blaming the last administration for introducing the project and saying he would rather focus on housing and poverty. The truly humiliated here, aside from hapless Education Secretary Eddie Ng, are the faithful drones who were ranting that MNE was essential, the patriotic fools who produced the fatal China Model teaching booklet, and – not least – the puppet-masters in Beijing’s Hong Kong Liaison Office who surely had some input into the self-defeating tactics used to implement the policy. If I thought CY was really as cunning and ruthless as some say, I would suggest that it was he who has taught them a lesson here.

(So what happens to those 1.5 million pamphlets? Will they be pulped, leaving a precious few going for megabucks on eBay? )

The election results essentially show a win for the pan-democracy camp, at least compared with what could have been. One interesting thing is that internecine competition seems to have hurt the pro-Beijing camp as a whole more than it did the pan-dems, thanks no doubt to the high turnout inspired by our friends in the Liaison Office. (The DAB’s Starry Lee did an impressive job of swiping votes from her colleague Lau Kong Wah and the FTU’s infinitely more deserving Chan Yuen-han in the race for the five ‘Super-Seats’, three of which look set to go to the pan-dems as of 10.30 this morning.)

Another thing to note is that only the number-one person in a list gets a seat. No number-twos have made it into Legco, including the Civic Party’s Tanya Chan on HK Island (partly my fault for voting for Cyd Ho) and Audrey Eu in New Territories West, even though both lists got over 70,000 votes, far more than any other lists.

Even a ‘big’ vote is a small one, however. The Civic Party’s share of the total on Hong Kong Island was 21%. Lots of legislators will be in office despite winning less than 10% of the vote in their district – many of them no doubt complaining that the Chief Executive lacks a mandate. This explains why unexciting middle-ground candidates like Regina Ip, her buddy Michael Tien and his brother, the Liberal Party’s ghastly James Tien, all get in.

Although MNE and the wider Mainlandization concerns helped the pro-dems on this occasion, the pro-Beijing camp and the United Front organizers in the Liaison Office will be examining structural factors that failed to work to their advantage. The multi-seat constituencies and wacky proportional representation system were designed to compensate for the electorate’s 1990s-era lack of enthusiasm for pro-Beijing candidates. Yet despite the pan-dems’ self-destructive splits and obsessions, and despite the growing number of Mainland-born patriots on the electoral register, and despite the DAB/FTU’s lavish funding and the shadowy tactics they use to manage voters, they are still not winning the seats they should. The system’s supposed to be rigged, for heaven’s sake. Proposals for constitutional reform in the coming years may include a re-look at the geographical constituency system to redress the balance and restore its intended imbalance.

Lastly – where was the dirt? Where were the leaks about candidates’ illegal structures? Where were the photos of pro-democrats’ visits to sleazy Shenzhen massage places? Where were the revelations about the offices they rent from their in-laws? Disappointed… Presumably the Liaison Office was distracted by the MNE fiasco. They seem to have been the biggest losers here.

Click to hear ‘I’m a Loser’ by the Beatles!

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20 Responses to Victory goes to the disorganized, squabbling incompetents

  1. Bela Lugosi says:

    No problem washing Hong Kong students’ brains.

    They’re pre-shrunk!

    (By their parents, the education system, the environment…)

    And the Government is Dry Clean Only.

    Which means it’s always dirty!

    Boom, boom!

    PS: My experience with democracy in Hong Kong, with students at any rate, is that they gather round and listen to anyone who will do all the work for them and let him run the show. With adults, the local teachers usually gathered round and decided everything then ran around telling the expatriate staff what was going to happen. Pip, pip!

  2. PropertyDeveloper says:

    The big loser may be Carrrie Lam, who only on Friday was throwing her weight behind Chinese patriotic education, as the BBC calls it: her tears may even have been genuine. Perhaps the illegal structures in the NT may live to fight another day?

    The 2017 CE “election” had been calculated, in combination with the twisting of the voting system and the DAB-isation of HK, to be a victory for the CCP puppets. Plan B will presumably now have to be brought in.

  3. Maugrim says:

    Bela, the local staff decided everything and told the expatriates what would happen? A bit of colonial karma there old boy.

    I don’t think for a minute that the MNE issue is dead and buried. They will use other methods such as pressuring individual schools. Nothing will be in writing of course but there will be other ways. As to Eddie Ng, how can he show his face in public? Letting Carie Lam take the heat (one suggestion is that the spin doctors told him to stay out because his arrogance would have only inflamed matters) makes him the Government’s Henry Tang.

    As to the election, The Civics did much better than I thought they would, however, here’s the rub, if we all knew candidates could win with less than 10% of the vote, why put the incumbent second on a list unlikely to garner the required quota? I also cannot believe that the cash the DAB has splashed, the oldies being bussed in, etc etc merits a ‘nothing to see here, move along’ response in HK. Im glad that despite such largesse, they are still on the nose.

  4. Stephen says:

    Crisis averted and Hong Kong ticks along and gives a nice bloody nose to the CCP and all those who do their bidding.

    Perhaps it’s a good thing that CY Leung has learnt this political lesson early in his term. Maybe if the Government keep their heads down they might be able to stumble on until electorial arrangements for 2017 come around. Sure to be fun.

    The Tien’s have got in – How the fuck does that happen ? What is the mindset of a voter who goes in the booth and muses “I must vote for that nice Michael / James Tien they have done so much for Hong Kong and have my best interests at heart”

    On the bright side no Miriam?

  5. WonTon Min says:

    I don’t see this as a win but as a big pan-Dem fail. In 2008 they won 18 geographic constituency seats, so ALL those extra 5 seats created in 2012 were lost to pro-Beijing and establishment flacks. The 2010 political “reform” didn’t work out so well for the Democratic Party, did it.

    And the clueless professionals of the Civic Party share the responsibility, too. New Territories West–what a bumble! The pan-Dems got 54% of the popular vote, but only 4 out of 9 seats, because of the Audrey/Dr. Kwok ticket sucking up 70,000 votes. They screwed up on HK island too. Pan-dems got 55% of the vote, and only 3 seats, with the Chan/Chan ticket doing the same thing.

    The feud between Wong Yuk Man’s People Power and the LSD delivered the final blow. If they’d pulled together in Kowloon East or in HK island instead of splintering forces the numbers show they could have gotten another seat or two in there.

    Essentially, the pan-Dems had all the wind at their back, politically speaking between the National Education debacle, the unpopularity of CY and the Shenzhen visa scheme. And all they managed to do is hold the line.

  6. Longtimenosee says:

    Am I the only one that is struggling to see this as a victory for the Pan-Dems?

    Tanya out, Audrey out, DP major loss, Albert quits, DAB get more seats than last time, and come in first in terms of number of geographic seats…and thats before you count all the seats they get without having to bus old people in…

  7. Real Tax Payer says:

    @ Longtimenosee

    I agree : seems to me the pro-dems have lost a lot of muscle

    Anyway : let’s see how things pan out

    It’s a long time to 2017

    We live in interesting times…..

  8. Sojourner says:

    Mixed fortunes … My (locally-born) wife generally agrees with WonTon Min’s more pessimistic assment.

    I was just mortidfied to see a prominent picture of me in “Apple Daily” calling a DAB candidate Beijing’s dog.

  9. Vile says:

    National education to be added to curricula on a voluntary basis – but here’s a shedload of cash if you opt in! Very cunning, shift the blame to the schools, divide and conquer. I like it.

  10. Dan the Masn says:

    Here’s the strange irony: the pan-democrats (PDs) actually have more seats (by percentage) than previously due to the functional constituencies. For the super seats (which are also functional constituencies), the PDs won 3 of 5, and the Accountancy and Information Technology flipped to PD – previously Education, Medical, Legal, and Social Welfare were only PD – for a total of 6 functional seats. Add this to the 18 geographical seats, then we get 27 (18 + 6 + 3) seats for the PDs.

    Since HK now has 70 legislative seats (as opposed to 60 before) and previously the PDs had 23 seats, then the PDs have more seats (by percentage) now – because 27/70 = 38.6% and 23/60 = 38.3 % and 38.6% > 38.3%.

    Certainly, the pro-CCP side was smart in deciding how to run slates of candidates. They did an almost 100% perfect job of deciding how to run candidates. But they seem to have forgotten the functional constituencies and because of that the PDs are actually in at least as strong a position as before now.

    As for why the PDs didn’t do as well as they could in the geographical elections, there are a number of reasons. 1. Paul Tse Wai-chun won basically because of infighting between People Power (PP) and LSD. 2. Lo Wing-lok is continuing to run in HK island even though he has not chance of winning – I’m beginning to think he’s just doing it to annoy Wong Yuk Man. 3. The Civics party with Tonya Chan and Audrey Eu are running up huge votes but winning only 1 seat. 4. This is the most important reason: the Democratic Party decided to run multiple slates of candidates in districts resulting in losses – even though they could’ve won if they just ran 1 slate of candidates instead. In New Territories West this is obvious, but this is also true in New Territories East – if they had combined the Wong Sing-chi list with the Richard Tsoi Yiu-cheong list, they would’ve had more votes than the Liberals (ie Tien) who won a seat. Reason #4 is a good reason why Albert Ho was right in resigning as head of the Democratic P

    As for the conclusions I draw:
    1. Probably reuniting People Power with LSD would be good in the long run, but there are some benefits. If PP hadn’t split, probably Ray Chan Chi-chuen/Erica Yuen would never have run in New Territories East and won in the same district as Long Hair. This is a signficant victory. There does need to be a decision on only 1 PP/LSD candidate running in Kowloon East though.

    2. The Democrats attempt at trying to win more seats by splitting up the slates was greedy and really hurt them.

    3. Audrey Eu is really popular. If she is allowed to run for CE in 2017, she’s definitely the candidate to pick for the PDs in 2017. Furthermore, with the Democrats being weakened, the Democrats might even be willing to accept her.

    4. Despite the greater turnout, there doesn’t seem to be signficantly greater support for the PD candidates than the last election although there might be slightly higher support. It’s just the pro-CCP side played smarter.

    5. There was an effect of the National Education (ie Communist indoctriation) protests, but it wasn’t in the directly elected seats. It was in the functional seats of the Accountancy and Information Technology. My own thought is that the people who were most strongly against the National Education are some white collar professionals in HK, and it is those white collar professionals (especially the younger ones) who voted for the pro-democracy candidates in the functional elections.

    6. Finally (and more importantly), none of this matters. If the PDs had played things a better, they might have gotten 29 or 30 seats, but they wouldn’t have gained any extra real power. Wong Yuk Man would still need to launch protests to stop anything from being passed.

    To the contrary, by reducing the Democrats numbers in the legislature to 6 (or maybe 7) and getting rid of Albert Ho, they’ve created a PD group that’s less likely to compromise (I would trust Charles Peter Mok far more than I would ever trust Albert Ho). The Democratic Party has always been the weakest link in the PD coalion and making them less powerful helps the PD cause.

  11. Kyon says:

    Very true on point 6)
    Nothing is changed unless PD engineers a majority, which I thought that is what the super seat should be advertised for (being seat #36 for PD). But without much organization, we will be still stuck with some number between 24 and 35…

  12. Walter De Havilland says:

    First the good news. Pathetic plastic photoshopped Pam did not get in, neither did ‘Muck up the air’ Mariam. Hooray! Also, ‘Jabba the Hut’ HO has finally recognized his own incompetence and fallen on his sword.  

    Other then that it’s business as usual, with a few more radicals to play games in LegCo,  a few more pro-Beijing types to look on in disgust whilst government struggles to get anything done. No change.

  13. Billy says:

    Well anyway you see it, the pro-establishment is the big winner here in this election. They have managed to put together an awesome split of the votes while the rest in the pro-demo camps went on stroking their egos.

    The fall of Audrey is a surprise to some. Tanya, however, had a little too much pride, I believe, thinking she alone was enough to take two seats and in the end cost the whole pan-democratic camp. The Civics rookies will have much to prove in the next few years in Legco, and the big shots themselves really will need to own up their boo boo and really put the whole soul searching on their to-do list.

    Given the political climate, the pan-democrats had every chance to win big if only they could put aside their cat fights and come together to plan for the bigger picture. I can already imagine some may argue that they would like to give voters to choice. And volià, the choices were there, and plentiful, but the patchwork of choices will give substantial pressure to the government or the pro-establishmentists.

  14. Walter De Havilland says:

    @Billy. The term pan-democrats is no longer applicable therefore the idea of cooperation is redundant.

  15. Probably says:

    So the Beijing loyalists seemed to play a good strategic game on the basis of the votes they received? Almost as if they knew the numbers in advance…..hmmm….

  16. WonTon Min says:

    What Dan said, with a couple of asides: Audrey may be incredibly popular, but the highest individual vote getter in Hong Kong’s Geographical Constituencies is Leung Kwok Hung. He is the single most popular politicial figure in Hong Kong right now.

    I don’t think Audrey “fell”, exactly. The whole business was a muck up from the start. She has that brain tumor, remember, and really wanted to retire, then someone got the idea that she could help the mild-mannered Dr. Kwok pick up votes in NT West, so added her name to the ticket with no thought she might win. Then the National Education thing ramped up and it began to look like they might be able to pull off a two-er, so they ran with it–perhaps without doing the math and polling to figure out just HOW many votes they would need to make that hat trick work. Carried off by bad planning and over-enthusiasm.

    As far as Tanya-and the other Chan ticket in HK island, that’s a different story. I think they were counting from the beginning on being able to cross the “remainder” threshold, for after all HK island is the Civic Party stronghold. But Tanya is not as popular as people think, and the buzz I’ve heard even among pan-Dems is that she was a disappointment in Legco in her rookie term.

    People Power and LSDs feud most definitely cost them a Kowloon East seat, and the fact that it got an idiot like Paul Tse elected may be enough for them to wake up, smell the congee, and bury the friggen hatchet. Or maybe not.

    Here’s an interesting thought, though. It’s a little known fact that Audrey and Long Hair are quite chummy. They became pals during the 5 district referendum, with Audrey showing up to speak at LSD rallies (she now faithfully gives face by attending their yearly banquet which is something even Emily Lau doesn’t do!). If Hong Kong were the US, I’d run them on a ticket for President/VP: Beauty and the Beast. Perhaps there’s a way to harness this charismatic duo during the next round of elections.

    Or perhaps not. 4 years is a long time in any political sphere, and it is an eternity in Hong Kong’s. Who knows who will be knocking around in 2016?

    Thankfully, not Lau Kong Wah! So thrilled to see that smarmy-kins gone!

  17. Stephen says:

    Some people are getting a little bit too excited about whose running for CE in 4 years time and are forgetting – Eligibility.

    Does anyone believe in their wildest dreams that the CCP / CY Leung are going to let someone popular like Audrey run?

    Nominations through the election committee ? Requirement 200, 300 ? Whatever it takes – CY will be a candidate, possibly Starry but there will be no democrats.

  18. Maugrim says:

    WTM, I think you are being a little hard on Tanya and could have been harder on the (unmentioned) Democrats. At least tanya was ‘out there’ on almost all social issues as a constant spokeswoman. Ho? WTF was he? As to Long Hair and Audrey, people would be surprised how much of what goes on is theatre. Behind the scenes many get along quite well with each other. Long Hair being quite a pleasant and articulate bloke.

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