Powerless body’s new line-up proves fascinating, briefly

Many, many years ago, as a boy, I used to regularly dress up in special clothes and take part in a gathering in which, at one point, a large number of people would watch as I rang a bell, and another participant lifted an object into the air for all to see. It was the moment during Mass of transubstantiation, when Catholics believe bread is turned into the body, and wine into the blood, of Christ. On one such occasion, I experienced a vivid flash of enlightenment as the bell rang. It’s still wine in that chalice, I thought – what the heck am I doing? As Christopher Hitchens said, you don’t become an atheist, you just realize you are one. (Typically. the Holy Romans have an intellectually robust explanation for it all. It’s more like sherry, by the way.)

Here in Hong Kong, we have a small group of people who take part in similarly strange rituals involving the suspension of rational common sense and belief in a sort of supernatural. A prime example is former Justice Secretary Elsie Leung, who over the years has taken part in such ceremonies as the Guangdong Provincial People’s Congress and the National People’s Congress. Many delegates (like more than a few Catholics on Sundays) go along with these things for the sake of form, but Elsie and some others genuinely, devoutly believe. Their faith that a humane, fair, benevolent and most of all legitimate political process is taking place is total.

Obviously, it’s not just Catholics and Communists who can embrace non-reality. You still have a few days to book a past-life reading with this guy; I recently heard of an apparently sane and educated pregnant woman who wanted moxibustion and/or accupuncture to move her baby out of its breech position; and I am surrounded by people who do things like putting small triangles of carpet at doorways to prevent wealth from leaving the room. But the believers in the sanctity of the Chinese Communist Party are different from the ordinary delusional: they have a real possibility of influencing governance.

Normally, they are the only people who would pay attention when someone mentions the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, or CCPPPPPCCCC for short. The CPPCC is a talking shop. A single post on Weibo can have a hundred times as much impact on the nation. We can judge how important it is from the fact that the deaf and barbarians are allowed to know what’s going on. Membership is a pat on the head for loyalty, especially for the sort of loyalty tested by endurance, sacrifice and humiliation. Its uselessness is plain to all but those who live the fiction.

Nonetheless, we find ourselves sitting up and taking notice when the new Hong Kong members of the CPPCC Standing Committee are announced.

The great shoe-shining Sing Tao/Standard laud the new appointees as having attained some sort of pinnacle in the nation’s power structure. Which is exactly what the CPPCC is for: the grandiose granting of face to those who have eaten their bitterness uncomplainingly.

The five new Hongkongers in the CPPCC’s upper tier are hardly members of the truly faithful. Adulterer rich-kid Henry Tang cruelly had the office of CE handed to him on a plate and snatched away at the last second after trying to dump basement-related misdeeds on his wife. Peter Lee is the number-one son of Henderson Land’s Lee Shau-kee and bachelor father of the famed designer-label test-tube triplets.

So far, so embarrassing, you might think, but Sun Hung Kai’s Walter Kwok and former Chief Secretary Rafael Hui – both looking at corruption charges – are being dropped from the CPPCC, so on a net basis, this is an improvement in average quality and integrity of the Hong Kong delegation. That said, Henry is also being investigated for possible criminal activity concerning the omission (or not) of that basement from building plans. Are the people who pick the top CPPCC members confident that nothing will come of that? More likely, given their charitable view towards other members’ conduct, they just don’t see it as a major problem. They had no choice, anyway.

Anthony Wu is (or was) a stalwart of the Donald Tsang bureaucrat-tycoon establishment that expected to ride to power on Henry’s coattails. A pat not just on the head but on his tummy, for being a good boy during a disappointing year! SC Lam seems to be filling the space vacated by the previous chairman of the HK United Federation of Fujianese Associations of Organizations. Liu Changle is boss of patriotic Phoenix TV, which, unlike ATV, has never erroneously announced the death of a former Party General Secretary.

What we really want to know is: who has been dropped, or simply not appointed, simply as a plain, good old-fashioned kick in the teeth? One, inevitably – a bit regrettably, too – is Lew Mon-hung, whose attempts to take CY out while the Independent  Commission Against Corruption poked around his company have brightened up our lives so much over the last 10 days or so. Another is the man the Standard’s Mary Ma column finally has the good taste to call ‘Sir Bowtie’.

‘Mary Ma’ wistfully imagines that Beijing has something bigger and better in mind for Donald. First Chinese on the moon, perhaps. Commentators offended by the way he hobnobbed with tycoons like to see his absence from the list as a snub, though by CPPCC standards, a yacht-ride is surely a very minor blemish indeed. Crowds of insiders crop up in the media this morning mumbling about how Beijing doesn’t want to set a precedent; just because first CE Tung Chee-hwa was elevated to a noble position in the nation’s top ‘advisory’ body, it doesn’t mean they must all be. The devout believers are among those who think so. Most of us will consider this, and nod in broad agreement with this solemn reasoning. Until it dawns on us that the whole thing’s a bunch of twaddle.

Probably, they just don’t like him.

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12 Responses to Powerless body’s new line-up proves fascinating, briefly

  1. stanley gibbons says:

    Is Walter up on corruption charges? I thought it was he who dobbed in Thomas and Raymond?

  2. Joe Blow says:

    People do strange things for the sake of reality. Like paying 13 years’ worth of toil for a 500 s.f. concrete box (usable area: 395 s.f.). You should know, Hemlock: you are a HK Midlevels property owner yourself.

    So, tell us, you fallen angel: what exactly is “reality” ?

  3. Walter De Havilland says:

    First Chinese on the Moon! I’m sure we could get enough donations for Sir Donald to take a one-way trip.

    Interesting that he insist on retaining the ‘Sir’ but does not like its usage. At least John Lennon had the balls to return his medal to Brenda Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and drop the fancy title.

  4. Bela Bauhinia says:

    I read the first line and I thought it was yet another one of those online confessions about transvestism…then the rest of the paragraph came and I saw altar boys, smarting buttocks, hurriedly reassigned pastors and appearances on daytime TV. Thank God you survived.

    The ins-and-outs of the Chinese Honours System must be of very little interest to people with blood in their veins and Angry Birds to play with…

    CPPCC….the unelectable in full pursuit of the ineffectual.

    PS: Why do so many photos of Donald make him appear to be farting? And Lew has the same hairstyle as Frankie Howerd, RIP.

  5. Big Al says:

    Just had a look at that link to the Catholic Encyclopedia. Who writes this stuff? What does “The intrinsic possibility of discontinuous multilocation seems to be based upon the non-repugnance of continuous multilocation” mean? It’s all just utter bollocks. And the funny thing is, people are writing this serious-sounding twaddle about something that’s made up. Like trekkies arguing over how the Enterprise’s warp drive works, or Klingon translations of Shakespere. IT’S NOT REAL! Get a life, not religion!

  6. Big Al says:

    … and speaking of twaddle, I also just looked at the wonderful New Age Shop, which always makes me grateful that I’m not some vegetable-eating hippy. Resident “practitoner” Amiee Mok is still a total babe, and you probably wouldn’t kick A-Ko or Carlie out of bed for failing to sprinkle lentils on your organic cornflakes. On the other hand, Jenny is still cross-eyed (and ginger, too, poor thing) …

  7. Stephen says:

    “Probably, they just don’t like him”. No they don’t he was an arrogant and incompetent little bureaucrat that caused them no end of trouble.

    CH Tung was doomed 1 July 2003 and yet it took the CCP well into 2005 to pass the top job on to Sir Donald – much to the shock of the then C.S. Hank Tang.

    The CCP was forced to step in when he was unable to get his (no) Democracy bill through a stacked Legco (which in fairness he offered to resign for). Then there was his clumsy involvement in the 2012 CE “election” in supporting Tang by having the information about CY’s alleged conflict of interest in the West Kowloon Bla Bla Bla leaked. It was probably the CCP who then responded by leaking his closeness to certain Tycoons and thus his legacy (such as it was) was trashed.

    Reminds me a bit of Tony Blair – another Roman Catholic.

  8. Property Developer says:

    So “Mary Ma” has joined the serried ranks of the Hemlockians? Ph Bowring the other day was clearly also snatching a catch-phrase or two from the Forum.

    Final warning: the word “pinnacle” must under no circumstances be written without “Diaoyu” in the 3 (three) words preceding AND without being clearly identified as barbarian-speak.

  9. Maugrim says:

    Donald despite also being unpopular comes under the designation NOOU. Not one of us. Money being the key factor. Don’t believe me? It explains why Henry is there.

  10. Tiu Fu Fong says:

    Ask not for whom the bell tolls, for it tolls for thee, candles-boy. We lads on the water and wine side of the altar were always jealous that you got to hold the candles AND ring the bells. On top of that, you had the opportunity to ring the bells for an extra long time and piss off the old parish priest in his moment of transubstantation (one of the few magic powers you get as a Catholic priest, along with the forgiveness of sins).

  11. Joe Blow says:

    Donald has always had strong ties with Raphael Hui. They grew up together in the civil service.

    Maybe Beijing knows something that we don’t know, and they are trying to keep their distance from Bowtie, in case the Kwok Brothers/ Raffie Hui thing explodes.

  12. Thank you for furthering my education – without your link I might never have known that “According to the teaching of theology a revealed fact can be proved solely by recurrence to the sources of faith, viz. Scripture and Tradition” – or to put it more simply “Jesus loves me, this I know, ‘cos the Bible tells me so”. Other traditions may interpret it differently – it certainly explains the website I found that claims to prove the truth of the Muslim faith. All its “proofs” essentially come down to “The Koran says it, so it must be true”.

    Of course to those of a more rational bent this puts the teaching of theology on a par with the teaching of Flat-Earth geography – but I believe that faith still has a few adherents, as well.

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