Rabid patriot Lau Nai-keung is back in at least semi-mouth-frothing mode on the subject of the 2017 election. His thesis rests on two assumptions: first, that the pro-democrats are capable of devising a cunning subversive conspiracy; second, that Beijing would allow an election system that would accommodate such a plot. It is hard to say which is less likely.
He foresees the pan-democratic ‘dissidents’ camp agitating, bullying and outwitting conservative forces, and managing to push through liberal democratic reforms. The pro-dems would then use this open election structure to get one of their own elected as an unpatriotic Chief Executive hell-bent on confronting Beijing, thus condemning Hong Kong to chaos as China refuses to appoint the rebel. Lau concludes with a glimmer of hope in the form of a pro-CY Facebook page that transforms itself into a force for good, or something (I think his deadline was approaching).
While this scenario would be undeniably entertaining, it is impossible. The pro-dems will have no say in constitutional reform for the same reason the tycoons, the functional constituencies, the civil servants and CY Leung himself will have no say: Beijing makes the decisions on this. It might look like local elements are lobbying for this or that structure. They might believe they can or even do influence the outcome. Indeed, the pro-dems in particular will play a leading role in legitimizing the farcical public consultation process, by taking it seriously, oblivious of the inescapable fact that a one-party communist state will not accommodate an election whose result is not pre-arranged.
What we will probably get is a guided form of democracy. The current Election Committee will be renamed the Nomination Committee. Being ‘broadly representative’ of the community, it will comprise 50% local United Front/Communist Party members, 25% businessmen with Pinyin names, 15% local tycoons who make an extra-special promise to do what they’re told this time, and 10% pan-dem lawmakers, social workers and troublesome priests. With Beijing’s local Liaison Office working overtime on the phones, this body will ‘nominate’ two people acceptable to the Central People’s Government. It is unlikely that Beijing would try to be clever and put one strong, favoured candidate on the ballot alongside a presumed no-hoper – Hongkongers might vote for the wrong one out of their usual ingratitude and awkwardness. So a real contest will probably take place at this stage, albeit between two similar, patriotic loyalists. Include a free press and rule of law in the mix, and it’s a better deal than Singaporeans get. Universal suffrage with Chinese characteristics. (This all assumes the Party isn’t overthrown following defeat by the Japanese in the Great Diaoyu War of 2016.)
So why is Lau Nei-keung delivering a ‘dissidents engineer dangerous election system’ scare story? Maybe he is paranoid and delusional enough to believe it; after all, it would be much harder to hate a pro-democracy/anti-Beijing movement that is an ineffective joke, and as something of a convert to the patriotic cause from years back, the hatred seems important to him. Alternatively, this may be the start of a public opinion offensive designed to make us think the consultation process is authentic, and/or the pan-democrats’ proposals will represent a threat.
Onto far more serious matters…
‘Headline of the day‘ goes to CBS.
‘Mystery of the month’ goes to North Dakota, home of what looks like a huge city that shows up on satellite photos at night but oddly isn’t there during the day. Pretty easy to spot cities on this photo…
Moving east-northeast from Chicago (‘C’ in the middle) you cross Detroit, Toronto and Montreal; head south from there and you hit the DC-Philly-NYC-Boston corridor. Go northwest from Chicago and you cross what I guess is Twin Cities, and then that question mark. A big city out in the middle of North Dakota, where the biggest conurbation would fit into a corner of Lamma. One clue is that, unlike the other metro-regions, this blob of lights has no core. The answer is here.
Lastly, I declare that the bottom of the cooperation barrel has truly, finally been scraped, now Hong Kong Public Libraries have signed some sort of mutual-backscratching ‘cultural exchange’ agreement with something called the Bavaria State Library, repository of many famous works on lederhosen, beer-hall putsches and the magnificent, toffee-making Crown Prince Ludwig, plus all those yodeling chocolate cuckoo clocks…