Lau Nai-keung put right

It’s not every day that you see a staunch Beijing loyalist accidentally but publicly commit a heresy requiring a rebuttal by a representative of the inquisition. In a spirit of comradely face-saving, the correction is administered by use of the Comfy Chair rather than red-hot coals. But it is nonetheless a humiliation, and a reminder to followers of the Communist faith not to use one’s own imagination and come up with fancy ideas that stray from the official doctrine.

It all goes back to a Civic Party-HK2020 paper on universal suffrage options modestly titled What the Government is Not Telling You. The pro-democracy group used the Basic Law and plain logic to poke holes in the government’s argument that candidates for the 2017 Chief Executive election will have to be nominated by a restricted, pro-Beijing rubber-stamp committee with the label ‘broadly representative’ on it. This prompted Justice Secretary Rimsky Yuen to come up with a riposte, carried by most newspapers, citing such scintillatingly persuasive proof as the ‘common-law expressio unis principle’. We have to accept, he said, that the law clearly bars nomination of candidates by the public or by political parties.

Both sides in this debate probably scored at least one or two technical points, and Rimsky gets the special ‘You Know They Are Desperate When…’ Prize for relying on common law to bolster Communist Party dictatorship. But the argument is purely academic, because the inescapable truth is that China’s one-party system cannot accommodate any alternative source of power, and that means only approved candidates may run if an election is to be held by universal suffrage.

(Conversely, non-approved candidates hostile to Communist Party rule are free to run if the ‘election’ is a restricted and rigged one, which is how pro-democracy candidates made it onto the ballot in 2007 and 2012. You can have it one way or the other, but not both. The transition to universal-suffrage election is a loss of control by the Party and has to be balanced by a more restrictive nomination process to screen out anyone unacceptable. This requires some embarrassing back-tracking and myth-making to produce an official story about why Alan Leong and Albert Ho could constitutionally make it onto the ballot in the past but can’t in future. The pro-dems are letting the regime in Beijing off the hook by debating on its terms – on this level of make-believe legalistic detail – when the official position simply calls for honest mockery.)

Step forward Lau Nai-keung. Lau is a mouth-frothing true believer in the Communist cause. But he also displays a capacity for independent thought by occasionally criticizing the quality of governance in Hong Kong (the correct belief is that our administration is perfect, as it is appointed by Beijing, which is infallible). This tragic tendency to lapse into reality got the better of him last week.

Lau fears that electoral reform for 2016-17 could fail. In an attempt to prevent that and help Rimsky out, he proposed a sort of re-rebalancing, whereby Hong Kong people are given the explicit right to reject any or all of the screened-in candidates (through a minimum voter-turnout requirement, for example). He justified this by pointing to the ‘dual accountability’ of the Chief Executive (to Beijing and to Hong Kong) mentioned in the Basic Law.

Sounds fine, you might think (voters could enjoy an implicit semi-veto anyway, simply by boycotting the whole exercise). But the very symbol of a balance (screening-out for Beijing versus a veto for the Hong Kong electorate) alarms ever-sensitive defenders of the totalitarian model. So they wheel out ‘veteran commentator’ Zhou Baijun (this one, presumably) to gently reign him in. The Basic Law allows ‘dual accountability’, he intones, but not ‘equal dual accountability’. (Nothing can be equal to Beijing, and to suggest otherwise logically leads to splittism, Hong Kong independence, or other horrors.) Therefore Lau’s well-intentioned suggestion is invalid. He never actually mentioned the word ‘equal’, but the point is that you’re here to follow the Party line, not come up with one of your own.

Zhou gets everyone back onto the theologically correct path by defining the debate over nomination as one that pits the ‘Love China, Love Hong Kong’ camp against the unnamed but presumably non-loving opposition. He mentions the phrase ‘Love China, Love Hong Kong’ several more times, just so we’re clear.

Discipline is restored, and the struggle continues.

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13 Responses to Lau Nai-keung put right

  1. maugrim says:

    I’m not sure even the most ardent pro-Beijinger actually speaks ‘for’ Beijing as opposed to holding a line they think Beijing would like. I know that those eager to find out what Beijing really thinks read a column in a HK newspaper that is allegedly a conduit in terms of reflecting what Beijing is likely to think. It isnt N.K. Lau.

  2. Stephen says:

    Sally Aw’s mate and Tung’s disastrous Justice Secretary, Elsie, was wheeled out last week. Part of the bile and was to gravely intone that agreement may not be possible (all the Pro-Dems fault). Also she implied that we should agree, on whatever rigged system the CCP comes up with, because, hey we can change it later and make it better. Now we all know that Elsie wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer but does she really think, after waiting all these years, Hong Kong is going to fall for that old trick again?

    Next week, just like 2007, they might wheel out those Basic Law drafters, who in-between dribbling, can remind us what the true legislative intent of the various articles were. What is a shame is when bright men, and common law practitioners, like Rimsky, have to contort all their training, knowledge and intelligence to insult ours. Just tell the truth you may find acceptance of the great unwashed. Apart from the democratic purists what a lot of people want is competence and fairness.

  3. Ex Tax Payer says:

    All this woffle : arguments and counter- arguments reminds me ( with increasing depression) of Yes Minister .

    The trick Sir Humphrey ( = BJ and its proxy : the HK govt ) often used on poor unsuspecting Jim Hacker ( = the average HK citizen ) was to bury the vital memo on the current controversial issue at the very bottom of the last in the pile of red boxes that Jim Hacker had to read through that evening.

    Meaning : all this woffle is designed to make us so weary that we just give up being consulted and say “what the hell – just go ahead and do whatever you want to do because it makes no difference either way ” .

    Probably Lau deliberately made that faux passe so that Zhou could pretend to rein him in, and thus give the appearance of debate and confuse us even more.

    The trick Jim Hacker eventually learned was to read his red boxes from the bottom up. Based on that, the sharp Mr average HK-ers (e.g Hemmers) can immediately see where all this is going and point out that the whole consultation exercise is a sham.

  4. Sojourner says:

    So ‘veteran commentator’ Zhou Baijun owns China Traditional Chinese Medicine Co.. Ltd.

    Just one more snake-oil merchant and charlatan.

  5. Oneleggoalie says:

    It is a betrayal of conscience that these government officials reveal when they “contort” logic and training to justify the Party line…

    …much like trading ones passport for a mainland Chinese one…

    …of course it does take a certain type to sleep soundly on such a burden.

  6. @Stephen – re Elsie, “does she really think…”? No, she doesn’t -like the other Beijing shoeshiners, she just regurgitates programmed responses:

  7. Sid says:

    Roman infallibility is useful when considering Peking’s pronouncements. Heresy, hierarchy, exclusive access to the truth, unchanging doctrine, holy texts, interpretations thereof, excommunication, papal bulls, splittism, splitting hairs, universality — it’s as if one was modelled on the other!

  8. Sojourner says:

    @ Sid

    You forgot pontificating in an arcane, esoteric and incomprehensible language (Latin or Newspeak).

  9. Undisgestive Biscuits says:

    @ Sojourner

    The notion that Latin is an “……incomprehensible language” is pure balderdash. Don’t foist your inadequacies on the rest of us. The World would be a much better place if everyone could read, write and converse in Latin.

  10. Tiu Fu Fong says:

    @undigstive biscuits: linguam Latinam odi et amo, quare id faciem, fortasse requiris, nescio, sed fieri sentio et excrucior

  11. Tiu Fu Fong says:

    Or should that be “linguam Latinae”?

  12. Thanks to TFF, I have just discovered that Google Translate handles Latin. Which is just as well, because I can’t remember much of my O level Latin beyond amo, amas, amat…

  13. Big Al says:

    Romanes eunt domus, anyone, or should that be Romani ite domum?

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