Martin Lee suggests the unsuggestible

Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony has the subtitle A Soviet Artist’s Response to Just Criticism because the work was supposed to atone for his misdeeds – producing imaginative and un-socialist music that displeased Stalin, who at that time in the late 1930s was sending millions of people to gulags or firing squads. Martin Lee, the elder statesman of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement, could probably sympathize.

In an effort to make a constructive contribution to the debate on the 2017 Chief Executive election arrangements, the old guy suggested that a nominating body modeled on today’s Election Committee could be acceptable provided it produced a ballot with at least five names on it. This number, he reasoned, would be sufficient to ensure a pro-dem could run, in line with the last two quasi-elections.

For breaking ranks, Lee was roundly attacked by other pan-dems, whose stance is that only pure universal suffrage is acceptable. So now he has apologized. The damage, however, has been done: the pro-dems have unwittingly revealed – or unwillingly acquired – a bottom line.

Presumably, Lee was trying to forestall a more tightly controlled system, such as one that results in a choice of just two pro-Beijing candidates. His proposal is, if anything, probably more liberal than the Chinese government is willing to allow when Hong Kong gets a universal vote. Although Beijing can always refuse to confirm a Chief Executive election winner, Chinese officials are clearly unnerved at the thought that the ballot could even include a CIA-backed stooge plotting to overthrow the Communist Party. And no, the fact that Hongkongers wouldn’t vote for such a person won’t wash (why do you so badly want one on the ballot, then?).

Pro-Beijing commentators loudly welcomed Lee’s remarks as pragmatic and constructive, and are relishing the opposition’s discomfort. The big buzzword in United Front circles right now is ‘compromise’, and poor old Martin – who always did have a charming naivety about him – has duly delivered.

Maybe this is what happens when you reach a certain age. The pro-democrats’ struggle has become all-consuming over the years as the inescapable truth of the nature of one-party rule has dawned on them. If you can’t have full democracy, you can at least wallow in a never-ending righteous battle for it. They are in their element right now, planning a trendy and noble campaign of protest of which Martin Luther King would be proud. Lee – too old for sit-ins these days – suggests a quick and simple alternative. Easier, and leading to the same inevitable outcome in practical, albeit not theoretical, terms. But of course less fun, less glorious.

The weekend is declared open with the thought that ‘Martin Lee’ is an anagram of ‘Lame Inert’ and a hard look at the ad on the back page of today’s Standard. It shows some sort of gender-confused, colour-blind psychopath who, ever since his lobotomy, mixes striped ties with checked shirts and forgets to finish dressing in the morning, and you too can look like him if you shop at Brooks Brothers…

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15 Responses to Martin Lee suggests the unsuggestible

  1. maugrim says:

    Mind you, the Dems can’t have it both ways, chanting ‘what do we want? Democracy, when do we want it? Now!’ and then criticise doddery old Martin, for exhibiting just that, some democracy.

  2. Gorgeous boy! Wish we could say the same about old Martin – ever. Geddit???

    The old Womble must know by now that with armchair Liberal idealists like the Pan-Dems, there’s no such thing as realpolitik. There’s only the unattainable ideal.

    He was just developing into a politician when they cut him off in his prime. Sad.

  3. Joe Blow says:

    That’s me in the Brooks Brothers ad ! I was wandering aimlessly through IFC, minding my own business, when they (BB) approached me for a Kodak-moment, although I am not sure why I had to take my pants off.

    Anyway, if you happen to be in Causeway Bay this weekend, and why shouldn’t you ?, make sure to have a look at the area in front of Sogo: Yes !, all the Falun Gong and “Hong Kong Youth Association blah-blah whatever”- banners are GONE. They have been there for years, sir. But no more.

  4. Regislea says:

    I’m colourblind but even I wouldn’t go out dressed like the guy in the Brooks Brothers ad.

    And where are his trousers?

  5. Dream Bear says:

    I recall Martyr LEE in an interview before the handover stating he fully expected to be arrested and detained once the Mainland resumed authority over Hong Kong. He clearly sees himself as some king of Mandela. How disappointed he must be

    Anyway, as the pro-dems elder statesman, he has now indicated that negotiations are possible and therefore the expected split in the democratic camp is now opening wide for all to see. An own goal!

  6. Property Developer says:

    A mere tactical slip, if that: the democrats’ case is so strong, and the anti-dems are so paranoid, plug ugly, illogical, disunited and simply wrong-headed, that there is huge room for manoeuvre.

    It simply shows the danger of even thinking of negotiating with such dishonest thugs, and how weak their case is. “It’s my last offer” for them means “come a little closer and I’ll stop the character assassination”; “sincerity” means “I’ve forgotten what my first lie was”; “miscommunication” means “I’ll settle out of court”; and “let’s compromise” means “I know I’m wrong”. History has a funny way of sorting the wheat from the chaff.

    When Hitler Youth meets pants-as-tight-as-HK-schoolgirls’ meets cheap Royal Yacht Club knockoff what do you expect?

  7. Property Developer says:

    PS and “we’re at a crossroads” means “pick up the crumbs from the gutter or we’ll kick your head in”.

  8. Old Timer says:

    Thinks: What the hell did those Brooks Brothers put in my drink last night?

  9. Sojourner says:

    “When Hitler Youth meets pants-as-tight-as-HK-schoolgirls’ meets cheap Royal Yacht Club knockoff what do you expect?”

    That just about sums it up. And why does the model look like a replicant out of “Bladerunner”?

  10. Big Al says:

    Obviously the Brook’s Brothers ad was paid for by a rival men’s clothing company, one NOT targeting gender-confused, colour-blind, lobotomised psychopaths – ooh, suit you, sir!

  11. Jeff says:

    This is so tiresome. I’m exhausted. I need a Jameson’s.

    The answer is simple: Let The boys up north fix the nominations and offer us two stooges.


    Don’t vote.

    Voila: Zero mandate, illegitimate government. Sort of like now, but with no hope.

    If the Dems don’t get this at least, I despair.

    A 10% turnout would be the most embarrassing thing possible for The Beloved Party, short of, well, having to wear shorts with a blazer.

  12. Tiu Fu Fong says:

    Real men don’t expose their knees unless engaged in exercise.

  13. W anderson says:

    The seating position of the model appears strangely to be that of someone on a water closet to add to the strangeness.

    BB’s suits used to be great for even making the portly look great, their switch to the stick fiqure boys of Europe has banished the milk and corn fed of America away.

  14. Property Developer says:

    W a, A Bela might say he’s trying to discreetly let out no 2 air as we say here.

  15. The Regulator says:

    Police are investigating the theft of more than a dozen luxury handbags worth about 800 thousand dollars from a shop in Causeway Bay.
    Three suspects are being sought in connection with the case.

    Police say a taxi crashed into the front window of the shop in Sharp Street East shortly after five this morning.

    A passenger in the taxi and two men from another car then broke into the shop, and all three later fled the scene in a private car.

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