Much wailing and indignant gnashing of teeth, as the Hong Kong government appoints York Chow, former Secretary for Health, to run the city’s Equal Opportunities Commission. The real surprise would have been if someone fervent about human rights got the job.
The EOC was set up just before the 1997 handover at least partly as a symbolic assurance that rights would be protected under Chinese sovereignty. Under establishment-friendly liberal chairman Anna Wu, it sued the Tung Chee-hwa administration for gender bias in allocation of school places.
Superficially, giving girls only 50% of desirable school places when they got over 50% of the highest exam results was clear discrimination. If, as some educationalists and bureaucrats claimed, those results were an aberration caused by girls’ earlier development at that stage of life, it would be discriminatory against boys to give them less than 50%. Either way, the government felt humiliated. Wu was replaced by one Michael Wong, which led to a humungous and embarrassing fuss, though we can’t quite remember the details.
Ever since then, the EOC has been one of those tiresomely sensitive issues people get worked up about. It has played a role in expanding Hong Kong’s half-hearted legislation against various forms of bias – though for all we know, the administrations of the day might have passed the same laws anyway. Like so many public bodies, it has become a sinecure for former civil servants seeking to ‘serve the community’ without having to defend the executive branch’s hare-brained policies or get torn to shreds by legislators.
The outgoing chairman, Lam Woon-kwong, left because pro-democrats who felt the EOC’s key mission was to oppose the government objected to his simultaneous membership of Chief Executive CY Leung’s Executive Council. If Lam was at odds with anyone, it was a largely uncaring public who can’t see what’s so special about ethnic minorities, single mothers and gays.
The chattering classes assume that Chow will be a yes-man. They did with ex-civil servant Lam, too, but he proved keener on human rights than they expected. The thing is, it’s a high-profile job, and you will look like an idiot if you don’t take up the noble causes the activists present to you. Obviously, as a glance at the Selection Board’s composition shows, the appointment was the same old stitch-up, complete with officials falling over themselves to cite Chow’s ‘administrative experience’ as the clincher. But provided bureaucratic or business interests or national sovereignty aren’t affected, no-one here or in Beijing has any particular hostility to equality for Nepalese and lesbians. Like so many others, they couldn’t care less.
As well as insisting that some of his best friends are gay, York Chow promises to apply his medical background to protecting the rights of the physically and mentally afflicted. He could start by looking at the glossy little green book inserted into today’s South China Morning Post. To produce this perverted item, the Hermes company has taken a vulnerable young woman who is clearly both educationally sub-normal and suffering from anorexia nervosa, and forced her to pose wearing startlingly ugly clothes. And Dr Chow should know an assault on human dignity when he sees one.
People who object to Mr York Chow’s appointment have clearly not read the job advertisement fine print:
“The Hong Kong Government is an Equal Opportunities Employer. We welcome applications from the the mentally limited, intellectually short-sighted and logically challenged. No Blacks, Filipinos, Indians, poofs or lezzers. Or gwailos who don’t fit in and won’t bring in lunch boxes, wear cardigans and run their own property business on the side.
“Don’t send us a finely crafted CV as we will never read it. Fill out the inane application form with a scratchy ballpoint like everyone else. Stuff you if you can’t get in all your education or employment history in six lines. If you don’t fill it out, you will never hear from us again. We will ask you to fill out another form just before the interview – if you get one – to demoralize you and check your story.
“Don’t expect to get the job if you have lost your Kindergarten reports, Scouts badges or mislaid detailed and authenticated records of even vague and temporary employment or any other remotely meaningful activity whatever since conception.
“If you have previously been employed by the Civil Service or a Government department in a senior capacity, none of these rules apply to you. We will send a head hunting agency round to go through the salary and perks you expect and tell you about all the dolts and patsies we have invited to the interviews to make it look all right.”
Bela is near the mark.
In the distant past, I was a beneficiary – albeit at a much lower level- of the govt’s ‘jobs for the boys’ system. They must advertise and must consider (and of course reject) any body silly enough not to realise that the ad is a regulatory requirement and not really serious (If they were seriousl, we might have genuine human rights advocate in post).
The real pisser is that any ex-civil servant who gets these sinecures is often allowed to draw his/her pension on top of their inflated salary.
Your right nobody really cares. This “Jobs for the boys” is unlikely to change until we have a democratically elected legislature populated by members of the community that possess a brain!
But, what about a new appointment, in one of the “pillar” industries in Hong Kong?
Am I right in thinking inherited wealth and failed Macao gaming mogul, Peter Lam is in line to replace inherited wealth James “50 Million” Tien as Head of the Tourism Board and what qualifies him for this role ?
Do Legislators get any oversight of this and will they ask why this “pillar” post must go to a member of the Liberal Party (presumably it must be in the Basic Law?) Or are they all still too busy impeaching CY Leung?
Excellent – now I know why my application was turned down: Being a grassroots black single mother lesbian disabled retard I’m clearly over qualified.
Inflated salary? At barely HKD 200,000 per month (or whatever) he isn’t even considered middle class by John TSANG! No wonder the poor bloke needs his massive pension payment in order to reach the pinnacle of middle class living!
once we have a “democratically elected legislature populated by members of the community” nothing will basically change. It will be these ‘worthies’ who will then appoint themselves to all the plum jobs. Such is the nature of politicians all over the world: they chase jobs and line their pockets ad infinitum. Chris Patten and Vagina Yip are the best examples that come to mind at this moment, but they are everywhere and Hong Kong will be no different.
The way that it works is for an anonymous cardigan-wearing beta in a noisy windowless office with pictures of blue sky on the walls to do the preliminary wetting.
The Board only get to see graduates from select secondary schools or universities with minimal international experience (cf giving blood, where the foreign-tainted stuff is simply thrown away) and with no distinguishing features whatsoever apart from a slight paunch, pasty complexion and glasses.
Lam WK did try a little, so it’s no surprise he’s out on his ear. Christine may now be regretting supping with the devil.
…but you forget that people like Patten et al, unlike people like York Chow and his job-swapping, pension-collecting friends, once had or still have remnants of….
….ability and talent!
If you are going to quote me please quote the whole sentence or my sarcasm might not be reflected!
My point (I concede poorly made) was, as Bela correctly mentions – ability. Hence when the government puts up one of their worthies like Peter Lam (other usual suspects include Ron Arculli, Bunny Chan, Anthony “Porky” Wu, Allen Semen etc ) they can be grilled by legislators and not approved if they are deemed to be unqualified (or utter incompetent f*ckwits).
It may, and it’s a big may, improve how these publically funded bodies are run.
There is no doubt that Chris Patten is a person of great intelligence, and he has an undeniable ‘ability and talent’ to further his own personal interest, here, there and everywhere.
For all you St. Chris fans, here is “Louis’ question of the daaaayyy” !
Except for the self-serving, playing-to-the-gallery “democracy” waffle, name ONE outstanding thing that he has done for Hong Kong ? (lowering the flag with tears in his eyes does not count).
Joe Blow aka Bela,
Anybody called a sinner for 1000 years and a tango-dancer by the Chinese govt is alright by me.
Lets just sit back and reflect on what Fei Pang aka Patten achieved. He fumbled the negotiations with China during his tenure, over playing his hand and effectively derailing a smooth transition through 1997 for the Legislative Council. Further, he stoked the fires of suspicion that Hong Kong would subvert China, leaving the Hong Kong people to suffer the consequences as he blissfully sailed out of here.
It could be argued that he stalled the introduction of more democracy in Hong Kong, the very thing he claimed to be seeking. Lastly, his performance at the handover ceremony was a piece of shameless theatre … head bowed in the rain, clutching the Union Flag. The people of Hong Kong and their interests were a side-show.
Ah, but think what a boost he gave to the egg tart industry – surely a vital pillar of our economy!