Not a good end to the week for Hong Kong’s veteran icon of democracy Martin Lee, self-styled icon Anson Chan, the Independent Commission Against Corruption and the Immigration Department.
The Martin-bashing in the South China Morning Post and the Anson-handbagging in China Daily don’t say anything new. After more than two decades, Lee’s complaints about Beijing denying Hong Kong universal suffrage have become stale, while Chan’s constant founding of grandiose committees of old buddies to ponder political reform is presumptuous. Both of them see the debate over the 2017 election as their last chance to make a difference, sadly oblivious to the possibility that the days when they might have had some clout are long past.
Martin, after wobbling a bit on what sort of nomination committee might be acceptable, is demanding everything now from a Beijing that stopped listening years back. Anson wants to reach out discreetly to the business community in the hope of producing some sort of election package satisfactory to the movers and shakers – all very 1990s.
Meanwhile, it is less fun than ever being in the ICAC. Opposition politicians claim that the independent investigation into ex-boss Timothy Tong’s expenses will be a whitewash. This is stating the obvious: the little group of poodles tasked with the job is almost a parody of a Hong Kong government inquiry with a predetermined outcome. Tong let his puffed-up rank go to his head, disgracing himself and humiliating his old colleagues who now can’t go anywhere without everyone cheekily demanding luxury cookies. The blame belongs to a system that, over decades, has smothered mediocre municipal employees in chauffeur-driven limos, bloated housing allowances and Gold Bauhinia Stars, and forced them to think they are rulers of empires.
Just when you thought ICAC mooncake-gate was bad… A judge grapples with Immigration Department discretionary decision-making at its finest. A Filipino woman was told she could stay in Hong Kong if her daughter – who has right of abode here – supported her. The snag? The daughter was four years old. I can imagine civil servants making this decision as a sort of prank, perhaps in honour of Joseph Heller, to relieve the monotony of checking identities and stamping passports. But they are devoted pen-pushers working at taxpayers’ expense, and they were serious. They are, right now, looking at each other in stunned shock, asking themselves what sort of drugs that crazy judge is on.
I know it’s not nice, but God, I wish this dog has been run over in Mongkok.
We can declare the weekend open on a bright note: it has been a good few days for Victoria Harbour, catching the attention of the world’s press not once but twice for looking – how can we describe it – unusual…