The League of Social Democrats’ ‘Long Hair’ Leung Kwok-hung, Hong Kong’s most high-profile militant Troskyist legislator, aligns himself with lawmakers from the pro-Beijing DAB and New People’s Party and with the government against his fellow radical agitators of the People Power faction. The issue: People Power’s modest proposal to banish Filipino domestic workers from Hong Kong as retaliation for Manila’s refusal to apologize for the 2010 tourist bus shootings.
People Power of course split from the LSD nearly three years ago. In terms of socialist doctrine, it was a group of rightist deviationists parting ways from the more ideologically correct force, plus the usual clash of egos that leaves Hong Kong’s pro-democracy legislators coming in at least eight flavours. And this is what we see over the Filipino maids. People Power is peddling populism verging on racism, while the LSD urges solidarity with oppressed workers of all nations.
The DAB – Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Whatever of Hong Kong – are a local front for the Chinese Communist Party, but stress patriotism rather than the proletarian internationalism of Marx and Engels. They and their pro-labour comrades have in the past expressed alarm at the prospect of brown people getting right of abode here on the grounds that the foreigners would compete with local grassroots who are (to use my own helper’s words) ‘too stupid to speak English’. Ip Kwok-him’s non-comment in the Standard suggests the DAB’s opposition is simply the line handed down by the administration.
The New People’s Party fancies itself as the voice of the moderate, clean-living middle class who don’t desperately want democracy much. Leader Regina Ip fearlessly speaks on this occasion for those of us who are hard-working and self-reliant, to the extent that we can cook for ourselves – but don’t desperately want to do the washing-up much. Quite right too.
Meanwhile, Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok vaguely burbles something along similar lines about the interests of employers of Filipino maids. (You might wonder why the city’s uber-police chief is in charge of our household staff matters: his Immigration Department hands out migrant workers’ visas, and therefore houses unsurpassed expertise in political policy on the subject.)
The Manila hostage tragedy is not just an opportunity for lawmakers to score brownie points through racist rabble-rousing or noble defence of the right to hire domestic servants for next to nothing. It is also a hammer – no less effective than illegal structures and other obscenities – with which the Big Lychee’s half-spurned tycoon caste can strike blows against their nemesis Chief Executive CY Leung. The Standard’s ‘Mary Ma’ editorial agonizes over the way Philippine President Benigno Aquino, after keeping CY and his aides waiting for ages, lined them up on the floor and wiped his shoes on them for the cameras, grinning despicably and grinding Hong Kong’s dignity into the carpet. And this just over the page from the story about the invasion of Tuen Mun by giant, man-eating, 10-pound, mutant flies, just in case you don’t get the message.
Which brings us rather neatly to Quote of the Day Award, which goes to Hong Kong University’s Dr Danny Chan, whose research suggests that a genetic mutation causes some back-pain disorders. “People who know they have the gene,” he advises, “perhaps should not become weight-lifters.”
Think how wonderful life would be if all the world’s health problems could be solved by people not becoming weight lifters!