What would Uncle Wah have done?

Jovial ex-civil servant Mike Rowse was dumped in deep disciplinary doo-doo by Henry Tang, following the too-tiresome-to-recount Harbourfest scandal massacre outrage disaster tragedy of 2003, post-SARS. So he can perhaps be forgiven for having a bit of a grudge against the textiles scion and rejoicing at the last-minute and freakish reversal of Henry’s pre-ordained appointment as Hong Kong’s Chief Executive. Then again, on balance, any fair-minded and objective person should surely regard Henry as somewhat repellent – if not as a spoilt rich kid who, having no bureaucrat to hand, had to blame his wife for his subsequent basement disgrace horror calamity atrocity, at least as a symbol of a corrupt and parasitical tycoon-bureaucrat caste.

In a South China Morning Post column, Rowse wonders why Hong Kong’s pro-democrats are siding with the pro-Henry bloc’s property developers and other Friends of Donald against Chief Executive and interloper CY Leung. The late veteran pan-dem Szeto Wah, Rowse argues, wouldn’t have made such a glaring strategic error. It doesn’t take a Sun Tzu or Machiavelli to know that my enemy’s enemy is my friend.

Anyone unfortunate enough to switch on RTHK Radio 3 this morning would have awoken to an earful of mouth-frothing rants from a woman possessed by a hatred of some great evil – a barbarity on a par with the genocide at Srebrenica, but probably on a larger scale. Of course, it was the Democratic Party’s Emily Lau, and the subject was CY Leung’s illegal structures and whether he lied about having them. She always seems to have had only two modes: mute and unhinged. But even the more sane-sounding pro-dems find themselves in this ridiculous position where they are trying to topple a man hated by the traditional establishment leeches and who is at least attempting to fix social and environmental problems his predecessors refused even to acknowledge. They are serving as tools for the property developers.

There are sound reasons to have reservations about CY Leung. His closeness to the cause of the Chinese Communist Party dates back to the late 70s, he has few or no friends, and he comes across as creepy. The alleged illegal structures cover-up is egregious, many (like here) tell us, because ‘a man who will lie about trivia will not be trusted on the big stuff’. Which sounds resounding and principled until you consider that ‘trivia’ is by definition not worth discussing – truthfully or not. The property cartel and yesterday’s bureaucrat ‘elite’ have an obvious vested interest in convincing us that the barely perceptible molehill is a mountain. The pro-dems’ motives are a mystery, or would be to alien political analysts newly arrived from Mars who assume that Hong Kong’s opposition forces act rationally.

Mike Rowse imagines Uncle Wah might have done a deal with CY on constitutional reform. That implies a breakthrough in the relationship between Hong Kong’s mainstream pro-dems and Beijing, which might be a bit much to hope for. But at least he would have thought about the big picture. It’s possible that Hong Kong will be run for 10 years by someone who will at least try to fix housing, welfare and pollution and who, if you attach absolute importance to trivia, has no integrity. What, under these circumstances, would be the purpose of ranting?

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29 Responses to What would Uncle Wah have done?

  1. Jean-Paul Lugosi says:

    Une bonne fois pour toutes..I have explained all the frothing.

    You won’t find explanations in politics or sociology or history. Hong Kong is in the grip of nausea, a kind of collective self-destructive hysteria. For the first time in history, we have a politician in power with policies, solving problems, reaching compromises, declaring goals, taking decisive action. They just can’t take it.

    Hong Kong people, like all neurotics don’t want solutions. They want the buzz of failure, the thrill of helpless nausea.

    Of course Emily – nauseating since 1960 – sides with her enemies. It’s not about political advantage. It’s all about the expression of malaise, the existential anxiety underlying this synthetic society which worships money above Life.

    You are not quite right about CY. He is a magnet to women. If you ever want to make it with a girl, take her to a horror film. The blood, the blood.

    I’m off to beat up some taxi drivers now. Hysteria is fun.

  2. Revolution says:

    The saddest moment of that whole CE election saga was when the pro-Dems announced about 30 seconds after it was over that they would not co-operate with CY. As Hemlock says, why can’t they look at the big picture for once?

  3. Old Timer says:

    I had serious doubts about Emily’s sanity watching her interviewed by Chugani on Newsline a few weeks back, as the manic cackling grew ever louder. Then again, I also have serious doubts about Chugani’s sanity. Anyone see him confuse his guest’s mention of “fax” with “facts” on said prog last night? It was the only time that local telly subtitles have ever served a useful purpose. For me anyway.

  4. Stephen says:

    Now this is disturbing, I’m finding myself agreeing with Mike Rouse. Except on one point and that is the political astuteness of Szeto Wah and for that matter the other Democratic Titan of that time Martin Lee.

    However the question which has often stuck me is why do the Pan Democrats consistently pick the wrong fights, ones that they won’t win and where they have aligned themselves to a group who has no interest in their “cause”?

    Why ? Do they poll their members ? Is it a gut feel for the political climate ? Or is it that they can’t hope to win so they can carry on regardless as the eternal opposition because they know that they are not good enough to ever rule ?

    They have achieved next to nothing on political reform, workers’ rights or the exposing outright collusion that exists between the Government and certain families and guess what neither do the Developers who are supporting them this time.

  5. Cerebos says:

    The remoteness of the hazey lowlands of the south side affords one a sense of perspective. One gets the sense that an aspiring black hair dye ingenue, returning from their masters course in political theory at a second rate US college and now the “go-to” guy in an adjunct office in Zhongnanhai, was charged with finding a long-term solution to ensure the decline of the recently acquired sub-province of Hong Kong. Said aspirant turns to their unopened reading list, thumbs through the first item on the list – Machiavelli’s “The Prince”… After noting the fawning sycophancy of the first two chapters with interest, he alights on chapter 3, which basically boils down to advice to “keep them focused on the small stuff”. Job done, he now returns to his tiny cup of chrysanthemum tea, clipping his finger nails in the glimmering Beijing light.

  6. Joe Blow says:

    Tune in the same time tomorrow, kids, for our Christmas Special: “Regina shares her favorite turkey recipe.”

  7. Mary Hinge says:

    ‘Trellis’. It’s such a pretty little word, isn’t it? And so alliterative too, with companions such as ‘trivial’, ‘trite’ and ‘trifling’. A poet’s delight. The trenchantly trembling trellis, a triumph of tragi-comedy. Or some such tripe.

    So it is perhaps unsurprising, then to see the agenda-laden Micky Rouse fall into the “How can you possibly compare Henry’s palatial basement with CY’s glass canopy?” trap, missing the point by a country mile or so.

    Of course it’s about the lies. Not just that CY kept quiet about the illegal structures at the very time that they were the very thing that scuppered his hapless opponent. Not just that it took unforeseen aerial photos, giving the lie to his lies, to be the very thing which caused an hilarious jogging of his memory (oops – hard evidence! We can’t be having that now, can we?) And, not just that CY has, for the past 5 months, used the “I have a court case and I can’t comment” defence in the blatent hope that it would all subside like a badly constructed basement. But a combination of all these trellishly-trivial factors.

    Yes, the Pan-Dems are being whiney, and, oh yes, the wretched Emily Lau is a flat-out public relations nightmare. But CY deserves mud to be thrown at him in abundance, and for it to stick. He has not a shred of credibilty left. No matter how well-motivated his policies might seem on the surface, how can we know he really means what he says?

    We deserve better, as Hemmers might have once said.

  8. pcatbar says:

    Stephen and Jean-Paul are on the money. With few exceptions HK’s democrats have not just lost the plot – they never found it! Perhaps its largely due to them being either spoilt bleeding heart professionals or frothing at the mouth eccentrics bereft of any effective grass root movement to provide organisation, support and frequent reality checks. CY may not be deserving of blind trust but his admin. (to the extent he has been able to put one together thus far) offers a substantial improvement on what went before, (or what Henry would have continued). The Dems inability/refusal to see and act on this beggars belief. There is zero political judgment shown. Just posturing and hysteria.

  9. The Quifth Beatle says:

    I like Emily Lau. When you are the opposition, you have to have a big mouth. Nothing wrong with that. The pan-Dems have some good people like Ronny Tong, Audrey and Allan Leong, but they are just too darn polite.

    Someone mentioned Machiavelli here: I always get a chuckle out of that. Far from being some ultra-smart political strategist like Cardinal Richelieu that most people think Machiavelli was, he was actually chased out of his Italian city-state, fearing for his life. He was a right loser in his lifetime, and none of his political intrigue advice could change that.

  10. Walter De Havilland says:

    The so-called democrats have amply demonstrated why they cannot be expected to manage Hong Kong given their inability to grasp reality. Emily lost the plot years ago and my default reaction is to switch off the radio before she reaches full volume and scares the children.

    It is telling that this weekend some of the Democratics were threatening to commits acts of criminal damage against the banners of the Hong Kong Youth Care Association because this group is challenging the Falun Gung. It appears the Democratics welcome freedom of speech as long as you agree with their view point. Like all zealots, different views are not to be tolerated.

  11. PropertyDeveloper says:

    Rowse is hardly an oracle, or even someone who has ever shown much political insight; he finds it hard to judge Tang’s rival fairly because of his personal history.

    The democrats are also ultimately a side issue, or rather a convenient target for armchair experts: it’s hardly their fault that despite the popular mandate, they have been barred from power, with the CCP and its puppet CEs just throwing them crumbs.

    The central question is whether CY is fit to govern. He may yet prove himself a little better than Tang would have been, but that’s hardly a recommendation. The younger Hemlock certainly laid into him in times past.

    Two facts weigh heavily against him: he is the product of a political system which has alienated the people of HK and is morally bankrupt; and he is prepared to lie and cheat ie his integrity is in tatters.

  12. Real Tax Payer says:

    @ Walter DH, Revolution, and Hemmers himself:

    Thank goodness for some commonsense on this whole issue. Both Mike Rowse and Hemmers have basically the same message.

    Here’s CY ( warts, UBW and all) who’s trying to fix at least a few of the problems left over by the previous mal- administrations ( like housing, old people, our filthy air – which on their own are each Golaiths now that they have been allowed to grow so big ) , and all he gets is E. Lau mouth – frothing on a par with the China Daily’s Mr Ngau when he’s in form.

    The pro-dems couldn’t organize a booze-up in a beer factory.

    I have lost all confidence in them . I agree CY has made some bad mistakes , and a “real” politician would never have allowed himself to be nailed to the wall . A “real” politician would have long ago found some some slithery way to blame someone else.

    But then again, a “real” politician would have been far too “clever” to have started to solve our housing, old people and pollution problems all within his first year.

    Has it occurred to anyone that maybe CY is NOT a politician , but rather a decent guy – albeit with pro- BJ feelings – who just wants to get the job done ?

  13. Vile says:

    High praise for Hemmers from RTP – if nothing else, certainly a sign that the time has come to abandon this blog for pastures more factual. Perhaps too much time in HK makes one unable to admit being in the wrong?

    Cheerio, peeps, I leave you to carry on defending the indefensible.

  14. Mary Hinge says:

    RTP. Well I can meet you half-way here, kind of.

    “CY is NOT a politician.” Yes, OK, I think I see that now.

    “CY is a decent guy”. Sorry, no. Must part company with you there. Way too much lying and deception from him to qualify on that score, I’m afraid.

  15. Sojourner says:

    Vile has a point, Hemmmers.

    When noisome reactionary ilk like RTP and De Havilland begin enthusiastically applauding you, it’s time for some salutary introspection and soul-searching, the intellectual and spiritual equivalent of an enema.

    And don’t get me started on the sheer hypocrisy and effrontery of the government permitting those vile anti-Falun Gong banners, … funded apparently by Mainland corporate interests (Yanjing Beer, no less). Where is “freedom of speech” when overseas members of Falun Gong are arbitrarily turned back at the airport?

  16. Failed Alchemist says:

    Let us do a comparison study. Compare Szeto Wah to Albert Ho, Martin Lee to Lee Cheuk Yan; Emily Lau to Anson Chan, Henry Tang to Mike Rowse and Long Hair to Che Guevara… We get the idea… Wakakaka

  17. Oik says:

    Name a single newspaper editor, businessman or politician who doesn’t have some form of dirty skeleton in their cupboard whether unauthorised building works, affairs with subordinates for favours or anything else.

    It’s HK society that has created this get-rich-quick, bypass the law/moral code if you can mentality cos you’ll get away with it at the end of the day.

    All our so-called ‘leader class’ lack moral rectitude so we ain’t gonna find anyone better than CY. At least he seems to want to actually solve some of this city’s intractable problems. Accept he’s not an angel & let him get on with trying to govern us. The pan-dems are cutting off their nose to spite their & our faces on this one. The cartels that run this town must be rubbing their hands in glee as the little man once again ends up getting kicked in the teeth, this time by those he bloody voted for to help him.

  18. Al Kempstead says:

    Hemmers, Hemmers, you are missing the point. CY used the illegal structure point to strip Henry of his chief executive position. The DAB, the FTU and the fishermen, the garment quota-trading bosses and other equally illiterate persons would not have voted for CY had they known of his “hidden” illegal structures. This is an integrity issue to the scale of liars like Nixon and Clinton, but unfortunately no sex is involved.

  19. Wanchai Dreamer says:

    Hemlock may have lost his grip slightly, and RTP’s rant in support, with the number of words to meet his required quota, is a terrible warning sign. But anyone can have an off day, and he’s been spot on so often as to hope it’s just a brief blip.

    If I’d been in CY’s shoes, I might have tried the same devious tricks, but it’s impossible to call these lapses of integrity, which won him the selection process, “trivia.”

    Hemlock’s position on the democrats does serve to illustrate the moral and practical dilemma they’ve been in since 1997: keep their ideological purity or sup with the devil. I personally take a different view, but respect his choice.

  20. Jason says:

    @WdH, Hong Kong is a signatory of the “International Convenant on Civil and Political Rights”. A part of the thousands of banners, distributed by this shady communist organisation (HK YCA) violates clearly Art 20.2. To tear down these hatred filled “messages” would be a good service to the public.

  21. Walter De Havilland says:

    Interesting that I should be described here as ‘reactionary.’ Last time I checked ‘reactionary’ means opposing political or social liberalization or reform. Not sure that’s true of me. But the label could apply to the Falun Gong, who are anti-gay and hold that different races have separate heavens. Apartheid is still with us. These are hardly the views of an open, innocent and benevolent organisation.

    I standby for a response from the true ‘reactionaries.’

  22. Headache says:

    Yeeesss, well, the thing is, there’s nothing here that Hemmers hasn’t been saying for quite a while. Why the mob response today in particular?

    Remind me, has the author made any statements himself as to the presence or otherwise of UBWs on his corner of Perpetual Opulence Mansion?

  23. Walter De Havilland says:

    @ Jason. Not sure that Article 20.2 would apply given Article 19

    1. Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.

    We could play this game all night. In any case, just because you disagree with the HKYCA does not give you the right to misinterpret the law and international undertakings for your own purposes.

    Further, once you ban one group from expressing its views, what next. Slippery slope I’m afraid when the HKYCA banners do not appear to infringe any laws, although they clearly upset some people.

  24. Real Tax Payer says:

    Very strange how this issue has polarized the bloggers…..

    (BTW : seems at least Oik has joined the pro- CY grouping )

    And if some choose to leave then all I can is that I personally won’t miss you. Your loss is our gain.

    Is CY fit to govern ? It depends on what you mean by fit .

    Certainly he’s a lot more fit ( and intelligent , and determined, and dare I say courageous ) than the two previous incumbents, one of whom was fired by the HK public and then BJ, and other of whom is being investigated by the ICAC for his shady dealings with tycoons and was never fit from the moment he proclaimed ” I’ll get the job done” , which he had zero intention to do, and thus was THE biggest lie ever told by a CE.

    For that matter, old ‘enery is also under investigation by the ICAC re his pleasure palace ( which certainly IS illegal and ‘enery DID deliberately lie about it – probably twice )

    I don’t see the ICAC sniffing round CY’s heels re trellis-gate and the way he handled – or rather didn’t handle – the BD

    Time for bed and I’m tired of these trivialities. Five years later those of us left in the Big Lychee will look back on trellis-gate over our beers and wisely agree that common sense hit its century-low nadir.

  25. Jason says:

    @ WdH. Did you really read all the HK YCA banners?
    There is the typical Communist propaganda blah blah, like “evil cult”, “harmonious HK” and so on.
    And there are very offensive demands, like “Eradicate Falun Gong” and “Taiwan Falun Gong Gets out of HK”. This is discriminating against a certain group of people (from Taiwan) and could be interpreted as a call to use violence (to eradicate Falun Gong). HKYCA crossed a line it shouldn’t be allowed to do so.

  26. Walter De Havilland says:

    @Jason. Oh dear, you are hoisted by your own petard as I’ve seen Falun Gung banners calling for the eradication of communists ( a certain group of people).

  27. Jason says:

    @ WdH. I promise, this is my last contribution to this topic.
    I am not a Falun Gong expert. But, as far as I know, it is a non-violent organization. If they use banners to demand the eradication of communists, they violate their own principles. These banners shouldn’t be allowed, too. Are you sure, it was “communists”, not “communism”?
    Anyway, let’s agree to disagree!

  28. Chimp says:

    The Falun Gong banners have lots of slogans. The one near my office says, in big blue characters “Heaven destroy the Communist Party”.

    @Jason: If you don’t like free speech, be brave… admit it. I mean, limiting free speech is analogous to fucking for virginity. It’s free, or it’s not. Hong Kong is, ironically, one of the few places in the world where speech is sort, of, kind of (though not actually) “free”. Our politically correct overseers will soon sort out what remaining freedom remains, of course. All in the interests of fairness.

  29. Ramerkang says:

    To my mind CY is increasingly coming across as a basically decent, principled bloke who is politically naive and has utterly useless advisors. Any decent politician would have wriggled out of this unauthorised structures mess yonks ago. Or, given poltical naivety, would have been told how to go about it by bog-standard spin docs.

    Totally agree the democrats have displayed their own ineptness/naivety by missing a great opportunity to side with the chief executive and isolate the DAB/tycoon brigade. What a ship of fools.

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