China’s annual parliamentary snooze-fest opens

The annual gatherings of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and the National People’s Congress begin in Beijing, and the world is riveted. For Hong Kong, the two-week-long snooze-fest guarantees a steady ooze of meaningless blather and waffle that will clog up radio waves, newsprint, TV channels and bandwidth until well beyond mid-March.

Former Chief Secretary Henry Tang, the nice-but-dim rich-kid who managed to lose a rigged election for Chief Executive of the Big Lychee last year, is a newcomer to the CPPCC. But he is a typical member: probably no longer of any use to the Communist regime, but warranting a pat on the head to save everyone a bit of face. To encourage continued loyalty and, most of all, the illusion, the system will dangle before him the prospect one day of a meaningless-but-prestigious higher position in the so-called ‘advisory body’. And there is always the threat of being dropped if he somehow disgraces himself sufficiently, or – more likely – speak or act out of sync with the United Front line.

This last consideration has a curious effect on Hong Kong’s delegates to the twin meetings in the nation’s capital at this time every year. Often happy enough at home to be garrulous, opinionated or plain frank, they suddenly adopt the otherworldly nonsense-speak of the Mainland official. CPPCC ‘spokesman’ Lu Xinhua apparently has the authority to decide who can or cannot be Hong Kong’s CE and said on Saturday that the job was for people who cared about the country and loved China and Hong Kong. Henry came across as cheerfully clueless about this abstract concept because he’s Henry. 

But when asked for a specific detail, he reverted to United Front zombie-babble

…Tang said he was pleased that CPPCC chairman Jia Qinglin’s work report, as in the past, had mentioned the 12th five-year plan, which he said could benefit Hong Kong.

…before turning to that reliable old standby, developing Hong Kong’s ‘Yuan business’ – the apple pie everyone can loudly agree is wonderful, however insubstantial or irrelevant it really is.

Other familiar faces in attendance are former CE Tung Chee-hwa, property tycoon Henry Cheng, Hospital Authority chairman and ancien regime stalwart Anthony Wu and property tycoon Li Ka-shing’s son Victor. It is natural for us to resent a system so warped that it plucks people who have exhibited in various ways such malevolence towards Hong Kong to serve on national bodies. If it is any consolation, the next 10 days or so will be a torture for them (apart from Tung, who seems to quite like this sort of thing). Accustomed to the Big Lychee’s speed and efficiency, they will be expected to attend idiotically purposeless meetings, pretend to find content-free speeches interesting, and waste hours while Mainland counterparts have their afternoon naps. Sneaking out for a phone call is OK, but getting back on the plane to Chek Lap Kok is, for most of them, a no-no.

Former senior civil servant Fanny Law, nurtured and mentored by the British colonial regime, is also up there. She probably signed up for the United Front after retirement because it’s the only way to go on ‘serving the community’ in any sort of official capacity. The only alternative way for ex-bureaucrats to satisfy their lust for high-profile interfering and nitpicking – they’re genuinely uninterested in power – is to go into political exile like former-CS Anson Chan.

The Hong Kong media, who presume the right to wander around sticking microphones in delegates’ faces, asked Law whether she felt the Big Lychee’s other political exiles in the pro-democracy camp qualified as patriotic enough to be CE under CPPCC spokesman Lu’s rules. Her response was that they would have to prove it through their deeds – which unfortunately comes across as rather mean-spirited, haughty and smug. Not only did she choose the ideological discipline of the United Front over the raucous Hong Kong values and infighting of the pan-dems, but she stuck her neck out and plumped for CY Leung rather than Henry Tang in the quasi-election for CE last year. The ability to detect when one is in danger of being insufferable was never among Hong Kong civil servants’ strong points. Clueless Henry guessed the majority of Hongkongers met the Lu test.

There’s days and days of this to come.

On the subject of danger, I came across not one, but two, over the weekend… 

Left: a plastic cartoon chick in Mui Wo. I am shocked that such a potential menace to society is left out in the open in a park rather than kept under lock and key somewhere secure. And right: ‘milk tea champagne’, served on ice, at a branch of Tsui Wah restaurants. I was about to order it, but then thought: “Tsui Wah. Yellowish liquid in bottles. Maybe not.


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8 Responses to China’s annual parliamentary snooze-fest opens

  1. Bela Blatherfest says:

    Did you notice the juxtaposition of the CPPCC story about patriotic ties and the one about rusty and thin lift cables in the Hong Kong Standard?

    Henry yes. But no one has mentioned Mrs Henry Tang, quietly taking the can for Henry’s subterranean orgy chamber and wine store. I was reminded of Stevie Smith’s comments on marriage:

    ” If you cannot have your dear husband for a comfort and a delight…one can use him as a Cross to be borne.”

    PS: I think I once saw a video called “Fanny Law”. It was some cheap cosplay flick.

  2. Spud says:

    Hemlock I am very disappointed you did not take the opportunity in your blog to highlight a group of people in HK who are currently enduring suffering which mere mortals cannot possibly begin to comprehend. I am of course referring to our beloved Civil Servants and their staff morale. I shall hand over to the lovely SCMP…

    “The sale of a personalised licence plate reading “CSD HK” is rattling the bars among Hong Kong’s prison officers.

    They say the sale by the Transport Department has damaged the dignity of the Correctional Services Department – commonly abbreviated as CSD – and also the staff morale.

    Anyone who sees the licence plate would be likely to assume that the vehicle belonged to the department, the Correctional Services Officers’ Association has complained.

    The personalised plate was sold at public auction on February 16 for HK$5,000.”

    One only wonders what could cause such a blow to staff morale, perhaps the new owner has put the plate on something other than a Benzeeee and the car is without, shock horror, any cute Hello Kitty car seat cushions.

  3. Stephen says:

    @ Spud

    No I disagree and I think Hemlocks subject matter today is very apt.

    Whenever I hear (think Martin Jacques etc etc) someone blathering on about how China will rule the world and how we should all get ready for it, brush up on our Mandarin and embrace the 50M + hordes arriving in the big Lychee, then I look at this symbolic, archaic, defunct political system and muse, “Really”?

    Communist symbolism (because let’s face it that’s al it is now) and Hong Kong’s property developers are hardly ideal bedfellows!

    It would be nice if one or two of our “Political Class” took some of the black hair dye brigade aside and told them it’s fecking stupid and we will return once you’ve reformed it.

  4. Big Al says:

    @ Spud

    I am appalled that yet again the callous and unthinking society of Hong Kong have hurt the morale of our delicate civil servants and I’d like to thank the Deputy Director (Atg) (Anti-Morale Detection Unit) and his team of 200 dedicated civil servants for bringing this atrocity to the attention of the public.

    In order address the rightful public outrage that has resulted, and to provide appropriate compensation to those civil servants suffering from hurt feelings, I vote for an immediate payrise of 20%, backdated to 1842. Of course, this should apply to ALL civil servants, in case the feelings of non-CSD staff are unintentionally hurt by not getting compensated …

    … wait a minute, what vote?

  5. Headache says:

    Stephen, while I agree with your general thrust I think your sarcasm detector may be broken.

  6. Local Tax Payer says:

    Beneath all the sarcasm, humour and irony is the tragedy where perhaps the foremrly most successful state in the world is crushed by a country governed by thugs and failed peasants, which systematically breaks its own constitution and ruthlessly suppresses the slightest independence of thought. Hemlock correctly exposes the betrayal by many HK leaders of any loyalty to the people they are/were paid to serve.

    And where Stephen beats Jacques hands down is (a) readability (b) knowledge of what he’s talking about, as distinct from cutting and pasting CCP propaganda statistics and (c) elementary humanity/common sense/critical awareness.

  7. Failed Alchemist says:

    “It kills me not to be HK CE” – Mitt Romney. Hahahaha….

    It only takes a dimwit to say, “All Hongkongers who love the country and city can stand for chief exec.” – This means that if one stays more than 7 years granted a permanent ID can run or if you change your name from Pinyin to Cantonese version. Maybe Hemmers is starting to make us frighten…

    Imagine if the same dimwit gave the CE policy address or directed Whiskers on the new budget… it will be an eureka moment! We thought what we heard was bad enough…

  8. Headache says:

    LTP, yep agreed.

    At least we still have Tsui Wah’s milk tea champagne, which I can assure you all is really rather nice and a worthy enough little piece of HK culture.

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