In which someone hits a raw nerve

Some Hong Kong radicals painstakingly collect a modest amount of donations and buy some space in three newspapers to complain about the city’s government. The ads would go relatively unnoticed. But then Chief Executive CY Leung comes to the rescue, denouncing both the message itself and the choice of media – and HK$50,000 worth of ‘media spend’ produces publicity worth millions.

The ads called for CY to stand down because he has failed to protect Hong Kong from the ‘Mainlandizing’ effects of mass immigration and tourism from across the border. And one of the newspapers carrying the message was a Taiwanese publication. The reaction shows that this is a combination of message and audience that strikes a very sensitive nerve.

The pro-democracy camp is by nature usually split. The latest division, which is still brewing, is over reform of the Big Lychee’s political structure; should the pan-dems demand a wide-open nomination system for CE candidates, or should they accede to the Basic Law requirement for some sort of nomination committee? Internecine squabbles of this sort are a gift to the pro-establishment camp and – more to the point – the government itself. Mainlandization, on the other hand, could offer a flag for most of the pan-dems to rally round.

The issue could potentially be a major establishment weakness. Anti-Mainlandization banners are specifically blaming the pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance for the Betterment Etc of HK for the impacts of the one-way permit system (allowing 150 immigrants across the border per day) and the ‘individual visit’ scheme (allowing unlimited border crossings to many Mainlanders). CY Leung can truthfully say that he decisively ended the influx of Mainland mothers into Hong Kong, but he has done little or nothing to curb the crush of shoppers crowding into New Territories towns and downtown retail districts. (Today’s South China Morning Post comes wrapped in a glossy cover proclaiming the arrival of some cretinous-sounding ‘New Concept Flagship’ in Tsimshatsui. The brand is one ‘Paul & Shark – Yachting’, apparently selling tatty-looking zip-up fleece-lined sweaters that might arguably suit 70-something males living in cold climates. The ad that so riles CY specifically mentions the explosion of such tatty retailers at the expense of everyone else in Hong Kong.)

Dragging Taiwan into it magnifies the effect. Taipei citizens are increasingly being suckered into seeing Mainland tourists as some sort of highly desirable gift (unlike Hong Kong, they do have a bit of space to put them in), and there is already controversy about things like the growing use of Mandarin and Pinyin. Hong Kong-as-warning-to-renegade-province is a nicely inflammatory message, guaranteed to piss off all the right people.

However, it won’t happen. First of all, pro-democrats do not think this tactically or practically. Grabbing a real, hard livelihood issue and battering the establishment with it is – well, real and hard. It is so much more comfortable to sit and whine, and snipe at each other, about the most abstract and idealistic aspects of universal suffrage. Even the group that produced the ad have used it primarily to demand that CY stand down, rather than to skewer him with a view to forcing policy change.

Second, although the influx of Mainland shoppers is imposing fairly measurable costs on Hongkongers’ economic and overall well-being, the bigger issue of Mainlandization is much vaguer and touches on some emotive and even unwholesome subjects. Some of the anti-DAB posters specifically mention the Mainland-kid-urinating-in-public phenomenon. Hurling abuse at ‘locusts’ and siding with nativists and self-described pro-independence activists leaves you open to allegations of disloyalty to the nation. Encouraging Taiwanese splittists doubly so. Picking on immigrants in any society can lead to bullying and other ugliness. In short, unless it is handled with finesse and discipline – and that’ll be the day – the issue can be icky and potentially counter-productive.

Thirdly, the 700,000 Mainlanders who have come to Hong Kong since 1997 are steadily becoming qualified to vote. Maybe not many will be itching to support any of the rich range of pan-dem parties on offer, but who knows? Certainly, it won’t make sense as time goes on to drive them further into the arms of the DAB.

More than political reform, Mainlandization is a weapon the pro-democrats could use to cause serious damage to the government, to their electoral rivals and, as a happy bonus, to some of our most parasitical commercial interests. But for all sorts of reasons, they can’t or won’t. Back to bickering about nomination committees.

 

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15 Responses to In which someone hits a raw nerve

  1. Palestine: No Justice, No Peace.

    Hong Kong: No Philistine Population, No Unlivable Bedlam.

    If Hong Kong people could be persuaded to prize being alive above having a fat wallet, most of its problems could be solved.

    Yesterday I came across two tourists sitting on the floor of a bookshop, exhausted,. There was nowhere else to sit in Causeway Bay that didn’t cost money.

    This is a very sad Philistine society but the citizens have what they deserve more and more for sure. Like most people, they want their cake and eat it too. Rank hypocrisy. They could simply close the shops and refuse to sell to Mainlanders.

    Let them reap the whirlwind of greed, the Maotai of The Philistines, which is no air, no peace, no comfort and no satisfaction.

    Bela has spoken.

  2. Mary Hinge says:

    Irrespective of the rest of his/her platform or political leanings, any CE candidate who proposes a luxury goods tax will win my vote hands down. I suspect that, in that, I am not alone.

  3. Grog says:

    Strewth, Bela. You forgot to mention the Serbonian Bog into which Hong Kongers have been led, or the Byzantine bloodletting that will follow.

  4. Joe Blow says:

    “There was nowhere else to sit in Causeway Bay that didn’t cost money.”

    Not true. Was in IKEA last week and the sofa section looked like the departure lounge of Chek Lap Kok. Mainlanders all of them. Some were having a picnic.

  5. maugrim says:

    The Dems are beyond any expectations. Uncle Orinoco Ho and the rest of the wombles, stumbling around, why even last week they were spoken to by Joshua from Scholarism in an attempt to create a unified front. The kid (who spoke more sense than his elders) was sadly unsuccessful. The fact that they want scalps and not progress with regards to policy initiatives shows that they are as shallow and as craven as the rest of them.

  6. Bela Beelzebub says:

    Talking about IKEA (founded by that well known Nazi Ingvar Kamprad) and bloodletting…

    Does anyone know what happens to the staff after IKEA is finished with them?

    Go in any time, come back 24 hours later and they are always new, clueless, first day on the job. How do the Kamprad exterminators muffle the screams? Are they made into those cheap Swedish hot dogs Hong Kong people love? Why are IKEAs nearly always in cellars?

    We should be told.

  7. Stephen says:

    There has been many opportunities (Collusion, Cartels, Corruption, Incompetence) for the Pro-Dems to latch on too over the years to push for their goal of Universal Suffrage (which I whole heartedly support) but, that they have singularly failed. Possibly the events of 10 years ago, when they didn’t, shows what they could achieve – Secretaries resigning (Antony “Lexus” Leung, Vagina Ip) and a Chief Executive mortally wounded.

    The CCP is a creature of habit and we all know where and why “Mainlandization” is going (Tibet). This is an opportunity to give the DAB a bloody nose consistently right up to the next Legco elections. The the CCP are seriously rattled by OC next year (International Press) and it is no coincidence Hard Line Police Commissioner Andy was up in Beijing this week getting his head patted.

    Can anyone translate this blog into Cantonese and send it to Albert, Alan, Mad Dog, Long Hair et al please.

  8. Gumshoe says:

    I’ve noticed a distinct reduction of weekend shopping trip Chinese in the western New Territories, but I guess that is probably because of the whole baby formula thing. Every time I go to Tsim Sha Tsui I am still confused as to how any residential living could go on there unless its residents have adapted to eating leather bags and high thread count fabrics for sustenance. I look forward to people finally getting fed up to taking more drastic action against government bodies ignoring their constituency.

  9. Womblewatch says:

    Maugrim

    Ho is in fact Great Uncle Bulgaria.

    Good news. The real Wombles are coming back to TV!

  10. Oneleggoalie says:

    Most pro dems have stakes in retail or property…they cannot be so politically naive…

    …and most are sitting on one to two hundred thousand dollars a month as “legislators”…how can we expect them to do the proper thing…

  11. gweiloeye says:

    @Stephen – shouldn’t have to translate the blog, all those muppets are quite capable of reading English, but I don’t think it being in Chinese would make any difference anyway. They still wouldn’t get it.

    @Bela – I think it is actually the meatballs (the whole horsemeat isue was a ruse)

  12. Jonathan Stanley says:

    @Gumshoe: The only people that live in TST are living in Chung King Mansions… in which case there’s all the Indian food you could eat anyway, as mainlanders would rather be seen dead than eating an Indian curry. :3

  13. Joe Friday LAPD says:

    The Chinese Communist Party is the devil’s spawn. Yet everybody in the establishment, and those who aspire, is willing to make deals with them. It boggles the mind because one day they will be held accountable, each and every one of them. “Wir haben es nicht gewuesst” is not going to fly then.

  14. PropertyDeveloper says:

    Two impossible things before breakfast: an unusually cretinous piece by Alex Lo telling us CY is the best we’re likely to get; and a call to patriotism by gwailo Chugani, saying he and everyone should love “their” fatherland.

    Peking sneezes and the running dogs sniffle and snuffle in sympathy.

  15. I am surprised that so little has been made of the fact that the scumbag who started the fire in the Immigration Department which killed an Immigration officer has apparently been let back into HK on a one-way permit. Not only that, but he is running a business with DAB support advising other mainlanders on how to move here. I should think even a fair proportion of pro-establishment people would feel uneasy about an immigration policy that enables the mainland to dump human garbage like this on us – and about a political party that abets it.

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