In most places, if a public figure wants to put a glass canopy on his patio, he puts a glass canopy on his patio, and the world carries on as if nothing had happened. In Hong Kong, the glass canopy is a major news story, and opponents and detractors act as if the backyard feature were a collection of child pornography. Perpetrator du jour is Duncan Prescod, the top civil servant at the Transport and Housing Bureau. In his defence, he can claim that it’s the tenants’ doing, and that he is barely a public figure anyway. Luckily for him, the media SWAT teams will move on; they have their eyes on Chief Executive CY Leung’s own illegal-structure woes, which seem to be reaching some sort of crescendo.
CY’s masterstroke during his fight with Henry Tang for the CE job was to pounce on the dim rich-kid’s conveniently exposed, unauthorized, vast basement-palace. It was the tipping point that lost Henry and his tycoon backers the battle, but the war never ended. Aided by pan-democrats who hate communist loyalists, the old establishment has successfully established in the public’s mind that CY, in the midst of campaigning, maliciously conspired to cover up such diabolical unauthorized building works as a garden trellis, and thus brings his integrity into grave doubt. By forcing him onto the defensive and demanding public accounts of the most stunning trivia, they are taking exquisite revenge.
And how will the trellis do what trellises nowhere else on the planet can do, namely come to the aforementioned crescendo? Through a vote of no confidence in the Legislative Council; even the word ‘impeachment’ is being muttered. Like the quasi-election that had to be re-rigged at the last minute in March, this will force people to show their hands.
Outside Legco, former council president and all-purpose busybody Rita Fan has been loudly flinging mud at CY. She has acknowledged that she could lose her National People’s Congress seat as a result, which suggests she knows she is probably choosing the wrong side.
Within the council, Paul ‘maverick lawyer’ Tse is at the fore, likening the trellis, carport, etc to a corpse and CY to a murderer. He is one of several ‘independents’ who are actually in the pro-Beijing camp and won seats with behind-the-scenes help from China’s local Liaison Office officials. Those officials were probably driven more by an obsession with denying pan-dems seats than anything else. To what extent Tse is following orders – not his strong point – we can’t tell. It is hard to imagine him as a lynchpin in a local coup being engineered as part of upheavals resulting from the leadership transition in Beijing.
Maybe the installation of former President Jiang Zemin’s favourites in the Politburo requires the restoration of tycoon-bureaucrat rule in Hong Kong. Assuming they have more important things to worry about up in Zhongnanhai, however, we can assume that the no confidence motion will fizzle out, despite all sorts of ne’er-do-wells’ attempts to be out of town on the day of the vote.
Meanwhile we have to suffer the weirdness that is the de facto alliance of radicals, moderate pro-democrats and the tycoon-bureaucrat ‘elite’. Sing Tao editor Siu Sai-wo BBS pens a more-than-averagely nauseating little column called Fame and Fortune. It exists solely to shoe-shine its daily subject, usually a tycoon’s kid who has pulled off his first great property deal, or an aging plutocrat who has bought an honorary doctorate. It looks very much as if Henry-supporting newspaper-owner Charles Ho decrees which lucky luminaries are featured. And today’s upstanding establishment icon: Long Hair Leung Kwok-hung.