Weekend declared open in three vignettes

Three stories combine to form an exquisite microcosm of Hong Kong today.

First, the whole range of opposition figures and organizations – from stale old moderates to fiery young radicals – form an alliance to push for full universal suffrage. By this time next year, the group will be ripe for schism, as Beijing offers a 2017 election proposal that wins grudging public support for being the first real step forward since 1997, even if far from genuine, elect-anyone-you-want democracy. It could even be that parties themselves will split; it is hard to see lawmaker Emily Lau compromising on anything, while her Democratic Party colleague Albert Ho might break down if Beijing’s local officials ask him round for a cup of tea nicely enough.

Of course, if the Central People’s Government reverts to obstinate-paranoid-temper-tantrum mode, it will hand public opinion to the Alliance on a plate. Assuming Beijing will be smarter than that, the pro-dems’ only hope is to have some fresh electable charisma suddenly rise up from nowhere and shine through the grey, depressing miasma of the current line-up. (Imagine, if it is possible, a Hong Kong pan-democrat version of the moribund US Republican Party’s sudden new great black saviour Benjamin Carson.)

Second, the government launches a public engagement exercise on land supply strategy. We can assume that the difference between a public ‘engagement’ and a public ‘consultation’ is that in the case of the former, officials don’t bother pretending to want to learn what the people think.

There are several possible ways of looking at this. One is that the administrative and political barriers to accessing Hong Kong’s reasonable supply of God-made, ground-level space are for all practical purposes insurmountable. Therefore, in order to free up land for homes, we need to relocate commercial and infrastructural facilities onto reclamations and underground. Another is that this is another scam for the bureaucracy-construction complex, to keep the billions flowing as wasteful projects like the Zhuhai Bridge and the Big Hole to Shenzhen wind down. A third is that this is a shock tactic designed to soften people up for the unpleasantness necessary to open up traditional sources of land. The strange dashed-lines-in-the-sea map suggests someone is not totally serious about something. You be the judge.

Third, the 84-year-old mother of pro-Beijing barrister and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference member Alan Hoo holds a press conference to denounce her offspring as a very naughty boy who, among other things, has locked her out of her home and won’t talk when she phones. Former radio personality and convict and would-be legislator Pamela Pak wipes the tears from her eyes – but that probably goes without saying. Hoo thus joins the lengthy list of embarrassing brutes and delinquents who somehow turn up on China’s national political bodies. (Can anyone imagine a pro-democrat casting their aging parent out onto the street? Simply unthinkable.)

The background to this caddish behaviour is something to do with the old lady’s failure to attend Hoo’s third wedding ‘because his second divorce had cost her a lot of money’. The South China Morning Post categorizes the story as ‘Family’; presumably ‘Lurid, exploitative, prurient tripe about semi-celebrities’ wouldn’t fit. We get such a saga every year, on average. Late pop singer Anita Mui’s shoe-hurling mother and late tycoon Nina Wang’s father-in-law similarly complained about disgraceful lapses in the financial aspects of the younger generation’s filial piety.

The SCMP mentions that Hoo’s first wife was actress Flora Cheong-Leen. She is, of course, the daughter of Hilton Cheong-Leen, a legislator and civic figure from many, many moons ago. And to prove that the weekend is being declared open by cosmic forces from the fifth dimension, a missive from him appears just a few pages away in the Letters to the Editor. It is very, very long, and several repeated readings of it reveal that it manages to say absolutely nothing.


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14 Responses to Weekend declared open in three vignettes

  1. maugrim says:

    We have a new HK comedy classic in the making ‘ Hoos on third’

  2. WIth Joseph Cheng in the chair, a united front of Democrats seems doomed to failure. Who is going to push his trolley?

    I understand Josef Fritzl is designing and Henry Tang is coordinating the design of the new Government caverns. Where else can we keep the civil-servants’ pension money safe?

    As for Hong Kong barristers, I REALLY remember asking of them at the Nancy Kissel trial, when they brought in a piece of evidence, a huge trunk which gave off some terrible odour:

    “Is that big container for your loot?”

    ” No,” he replied. “It isn’t big enough.”

    Have fun at the Sevens! Cheering to see so many people twice my size.

  3. Mongkok Mzungu says:

    In other (perhaps conveniently juxtapositioned?) news, the government is also considering moving public facilities into ‘caverns.’


    At the moment, it is only about unpalatable facilities like sewage works, but let’s not forget that picturesque Tseung Kwan O also started off as a landfill. Before we know it, we will be carving out wet markets and secondary schools.

    So if it is between reclaiming more land or moving to a cave, I’ll be happily be engaged in the former please.

  4. Stephen says:

    Depressingly agree. Unless the alliance gains a creditable lead figure (as Martin Lee kind of was back in the ‘90’s) I foresee them falling flat on the faces again. Who on earth in that motley crew wheeled out yesterday can the public rally behind – Emily, Al Ho, The Lawyers, the dynamic (not) duo of Triad and Big Man etc? Beijing has, I think, just about learnt that full on temper tantrums tend to have the opposite effect. Hence the public will, sigh, and accept a vote for Pro-Beijing candidate No.1 or Pro-Beijing candidate No.2 with the winner being the ones who hands out the most sweeties during the campaign. The world sees it as democracy, The CCP does not feel their divine right to rule is threatened and we all live happily ever after?

  5. Failed Alchemist says:

    Send in the clowns. Again, the tail trying to wag the dog. The whole self-delusion of global reform. A World Spring maybe? In politics, shouldn’t they be concentrating to captive more seats at district, LEGCO level & the CE post? Isn’t their nemesis DAB & FTU, not the whole world?

    Even CY isn’t dumb not to seek changes in the rules. After kicking tycoons in the nuts for the last few months, he surely doesn’t want to run the gauntlet of the special selection committee. He rather place his fate in the hands of HKers with a little help from his friends…

    But alas, maybe we should consider Pamela Baby and her Superman Tse to be head honcho… instead of eating cakes now, we are told to drink milk…

  6. Real Fax Paper says:

    The dashed-lines-in-the-sea covers, more or less, the area used for mid-stream loading and unloading of anchored cargo vessels. If the area were peppered with islands, those vessels would be forced to use the more expensive container ter… oh, I see.

    Oh and the Macau high speed ferries would be effectively cut off, too, so we’d have to find some alternative way of efficiently getting people to and from Mac…. oh, I see.

  7. Local Tax Payer says:

    A while ago, the govt announced its intention of filling in the harbour as far as Green Island. While it may easily have then been a bargaining chip, they may yet get the chance to take their chauffeur-driven cars there — via the incinerator?

    Soon the bridge to Macau (but you can’t drive to Macau) will be finished and they’ll need to put the waste under the third runway. Then, after that, they’ll need somewhere near Lantau to… In any case, having run out of places to put bridges over, they’re getting desperate. Why do you think Pokfulam has remained so underdeveloped all this time?

    Come on, Hemlock, you’re a bit jealous. The letter-editors’ summarising in the title of the untenable, the vindictive, the English homework (remember, one sentence per paragraph, except the antepenultimate one), the connect as many buzz words as possible, the nudge and the wink to Peking, the entirely empty of meaning, the circular argument occasionally beats your own masterful surveying of the mouth-frothers, the racists and the criminals who form our opinions.

  8. Sojourner says:

    Now I am going to have to sate my curiosity about that bloody letter and buy that peurile rag.

  9. jason90 says:

    Come on Hemlock, Hilton did not say ‘absolutely nothing’ – he said:

    “…we in Hong Kong must steadfastly nurture our core values and strive to upgrade the quality of our knowledge, skills and living environment.
    Together with Leung Chun-ying, the chief executive, we should work together and have give-and-take, all for the common good of Hong Kong and the nation…”

    So there!

  10. Joe Blow says:

    These gems are from Hilton’s daughter, ex-ballerina Flora:

    “Just because I don’t attend charity balls anymore doesn’t mean I am not doing anything useful with my life !”

    “I don’t really spend that much money on myself. Only about $60 or $70 thousand dollars per month !”

    Talking about core values.

    And what is old Hilton doing in To Kwa Wan ?

  11. Real Tax Payer says:

    To quote Snow White and the Seven Belas :

    ” Have fun at the Sevens! Cheering to see so many people twice my size”

    @ Maugrim : I would rustle up a HK gossip version of Hoo’s on Third – with Pamela Mak on home base if it was not the Seven’s weekend, so I have better things to do . I recommend the the Hu’s on Third which came out to celebrate Hu Jintao’s inauguration 10 years ago . It’s on Youtube et al

    @Bela : if I spot a dwarf* in the stadium I will raise my left hand in salute and it’s you please acknowledge by doing likewise. Thus will we recognize each other ‘midst the drunken faze

    ( *or are you a leprechaun and drink Guinness ? )

  12. stanley gibbons says:


    bela is only a mental dwarf, and therefore will be impossible to spot amid the throng in the stadium

  13. On the matter of “softening people up for the unpleasantness necessary to open up traditional sources of land”, I wonder if the government’s (relatively) get-tough policy on illegal alterations in the NT is a first step to the inevitable eventual scrapping of the long-outdated small house policy? Not that we would be told if it was, of course.

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