God loses patience and intervenes

Christianity makes one – in fact, two – of its periodic entrances on Hong Kong’s political stage. Besieged Development Secretary Paul Chan quotes of justice, mercy and humility from the Bible, while the Catholic Diocese issues a statement calling for universal suffrage for the city and supporting Occupy Central.

Chan is teetering on the edge. Activists are demanding that he resign, and pro-democracy legislators have reported him to the Independent Commission Against Corruption in connection with his wife’s family’s land holding in an area slated for government purchase. He and thick-skinned Chief Executive CY Leung seem to calculate that with the outrage and mouth-frothing reaching saturation point, they might as well tough it out and show everyone who’s boss. However, detractors are determined to inflict maximum pain. The pro-tycoon Standard’s ‘Mary Ma’ editorial takes delight in probing obscure but sinister-sounding quasi-legal aspects of the affair. Ex-CE Donald Tsang’s old buddy Albert Cheng says in the South China Morning Post that axing Chan would salvage the administration’s credibility – knowing the exact opposite is probably truer. Maybe it will get to the point that Chan will stand down on the grounds that a replacement (if CY can find a third Secretary for Development) would be able to move more decisively on the housing plans for the Northeast New Territories, which is what this is all supposed to be about.

(Talking of obscure: Chan’s quote was from the Book of Micah. The ancient Jewish prophet is best known for once ordering some furniture. When the tribe’s carpenter delivered it to the seer’s tent, a servant noticed the cheap-looking but easy-to-clean top on the newly made table and asked what it was, prompting the reply, “It’s for Micah.”)

The Diocesan Statement is written in flawless Catholic-ese, a dispassionate and logical sort of argument that confounds skeptical atheists and anti-papist believers alike. It cites the official Vatican line that all peoples should be allowed to elect their own governments, does a Saint Augustine-style job of defining conditions under which the Occupy Central plan for civil disobedience would be justified, and calls for universal suffrage, an end to functional constituencies and a truly democratic nomination system.

Vicar-General Michael Yeung tells the Standard that the Church will support Catholic students who get arrested if Occupy Central takes place. Despite the moderate tone, this is inflammatory and will seriously irritate the officials in Beijing’s local Liaison Office. The Catholic Church educated a large portion of Hong Kong’s elite, operates schools parents dream of getting their kids into, and generally has considerable clout. The government has some support among authoritarian/loopy fundamentalist Protestant types, and the pro-Beijing camp has the backing of a patriotic and interestingly materialistic Buddhist establishment; when it comes to public respectability, the Holy Romans could eat them all for breakfast.

Anson Chan, quoted along with the Vicar-General, calculates that legislation for political reform has to be in place by 2015, so it will be too late next year to launch a serious public consultation. Although CY and his governance guidance counselors in the Liaison Office have obviously been hoping to delay in order to ram something through late in the day, the Paul Chan’s-wife’s-family’s-land-shock-horror-disaster might change their minds. Dragging democracy out into the open to divert attention away from CY’s latest calamity sounds a bit extreme, but the way things are going it might be tempting. It would be proof, yet again, that the Almighty moves in mysterious ways.

I declare the weekend open with a special, exclusive picture of a youthful Financial Secretary John Tsang showing impressionable young people how to decapitate disrespectful property tycoons…


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13 Responses to God loses patience and intervenes

  1. Talking to someone like Paul Chan about morality is like discussing racial equality with Adolf Eichmann. Even St Peter would give up and put him on the fast track to Hades. Like many of the Hong Kong elite, Chan has been through Western education and ethics and morality and they are just certificates on the wall. They know all the texts but the message slipped them by.

    In that sense, they are truly blameless. Have mercy upon them. They know not what they do. And that makes it – and Hong Kong – really sad.

  2. Incredulous says:

    It’s a bit rich having the Catholic Church lecture us on democracy. Don’t they have their own “small-circle” election for their Pope?

  3. Worm Flu Patient Zero says:

    And we have the Jesuits — described by Northern Irish protestant leader Reverend Ian Paisley as “the SS of the Catholic Church” — setting up a university here soon.

  4. Mary Hinge says:

    Well, well, well. Who knew? John Tsang was a trainee chimney sweep. I always wondered why most of his budget initiatives fall through.

  5. Ming Ming says:

    I don’t know about the Almighty, but someone (or some group) must have leaked the information about Paul’s land holding to the media in the first place. Does that someone have any ulterior motive? Could he be taking a revenge against CY’s camp for accusing John Tsang of being a “big sinner”?

  6. NENT PropertyDeveloper says:

    Every time I see that a foreigner is allowed to prosecute one of Peking’s annointed sons, I wonder how long such a paradoxical state of affairs will be allowed to continue.

    Paul Chan must be on the way out, maybe today. (And Hemlock’s belittling of the gravity of his situation at the beginning of the week, with the benefit of hindsight, was surely an uncharacteristic slip.)

    The $m question is whether the great NENT demolish-the-governor’s-house-and-garden-and-put-it-in-the-new-landfill secret master plan can be salvaged. Certainly only a nincompoop would accept to be the third Minister of Orwellian Development in about a year, with the added bonus of joining CY’s rapidly sinking ship.

    Things begin to get interesting when you contemplate CY’s awful current predicament. Is he allowed to resign? Offer Long Hair a seat in the Cabinet? Ask for Direct Rule? In any case wolfishly grinning and bearing it is no longer an option.

  7. Stephen says:

    Fully agree that CY and the Liaison Office are and are still hoping to cobble together some legislation, on the CE election, at the eleventh hour and will try to ram it through Legco. However the Pro-Dems have the votes to torpedo it and then both sides can point fingers at each other. This legislation is important to the CCP – Paul Chan is not – He’ll walk.

    We all have our views on Catholicism but in this town it’s a useful card to have. It’s likely to fuel more paranoia in the CCP knowing just how many of the supposed “elite” are avid believers.

    Poor old CCP are having a tough time at the moment with HK playing up again, economic growth slowing and the blink and you’ll miss it trial of Big Bad Bo coming up.

  8. Bela e mobile says:

    A little bonne bouche for everyone. The SCMP though it would whip up another of its anti-foreigner frenzies with its latest poll. But 82% don’t care at all if Chinese are first to be killed in the video game Pacific Rim.

    Hard chesse SCMP!


  9. Real Tax Payer says:

    “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.
    Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad.
    Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good.
    But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.
    Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.”

    Romans 13 : 1-5

    Seems Paul – and thereby God – both agree with the CCCP ( the Chinese Controlling Christian Party)

  10. Claw says:

    I take issue with your first paragraph: please remember one of the first questions one is asked on arrival in HK, “are you a christian or a catholic?”. Perhaps you may have been more accurate to write “Religion makes …”

    I do find it interesting that so many of the integrity impaired senior government officials claim to be christians or catholics. They are hardly a positive example for anyone to follow. It is also interesting to note the deafening silence on the part of the local churches when it comes to commenting on the transgessions of these members of their flocks. Though this is not surprising when one considers the triad links of the Rev. Fung Chi Wood which also passed without comment from the churches’ hierarchy.

    RTP, your quotation is apt, though one may find a suitable isolated verse to support just about any argument if one searches hard enough: such is the beauty of the christian bible.

  11. The Catholic Church seems somewhat more keen on public participation in the governance of Hong Kong than in the governance of its own schools.

  12. OC says:

    “Angry Hong Kong” is a newly established blog which documents citizenship activism in Hong Kong. Check it out! http://hkactivism.blogspot.hk

  13. NENT PropertyDeveloper says:

    Sorry about the slip in my comments above: when Paul Chan goes, his replacement will be the fourth Development Minister in little more than a year, rather than the third.

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