Hong Kong’s pro-democracy Occupy Central movement comprises a methodical, indeed laborious, series of deliberative activities leading up to possible acts of civil disobedience. The next step is a ‘civil referendum’ on June 22, in which participants should have been able to choose from a variety of electoral methods for the Chief Executive election in 2017.
In the interests of open-mindedness and credibility, the organizers could have offered a slate of options ranging from Beijing’s conservative ‘quasi-democracy’ model, under which the Communist Party would impose a pre-selected ballot of candidates, to the most radical proposal allowing open public nomination of contenders. Instead, they screened ‘quasi-democracy’ methods out on the grounds that they did not meet international UN-endorsed standards. They probably debated at great length whether this was principled or perhaps a bit arrogant. The upshot was that the referendum, in which all voters can take part, would not cater for anyone wanting to indicate a preference (out of ideology or cynical pragmatism) for, or to openly vote against, a Beijing-style rigged ballot.
The range of choices became even narrower after the pro-democracy camp’s radical factions ambushed the no-doubt elaborate referendum-questions-finalization-decision-committee-process. Participants will now have a choice of three pretty similar radical options, all of which have already been ruled out by Beijing with absolute finality as unconstitutional and unacceptable and otherwise impossible. Supporters of relatively moderate or ‘realist’ proposals have no option to vote for, save an abstention. While taking a firm stance against ‘fake democracy’ might have seemed (and still seem) a sensible tactic, the actual referendum looks futile and irrelevant – a flop in the making.
Not so fast! In a last-ditch attempt to arouse interest and provoke popular involvement in the exercise, double agents secretly working for the pro-democrats have cleverly arranged for two of the more distasteful and almost-forgotten dinosaurs of the reactionary cause to appear, as if from out of the grave, and spout their most glorious and hilariously loathsome nonsense.
First, China’s one-time chief emissary to colonial-era Hong Kong Zhou Nan emerges to declare Occupy Central an agent of those mysterious anti-China forces that seem to lurk invisibly everywhere. Just days after the 25th anniversary of Tiananmen, he warns of plots to usurp jurisdiction over the city and use it as a base to topple the Communist regime, and raises the possibility of PLA soldiers moving in. And we thought Benny Tai just looked like some weedy academic. The Hong Kong government had to diplomatically distance itself from the demented ranting.
And now property tycoon Peter Woo suddenly crops up with a nearly one-hour-long diatribe against the pro-democracy activists’ plans. There has always been something of the jackboot about Woo. Unlike the authentic vintage property tycoons who pulled themselves up with their own middling family fortunes, or the dazzlingly visionary second-generation types who nobly inherited their cartel-empires, Woo married into it – which seems somehow puny, pathetic and just unmanly. He also, for a while, openly lusted after the job of Chief Executive himself, gamely ‘running’ and losing against Tung Chee-hwa in the rigged small-circle quasi-election just before the 1997 handover, and popping up at times during the following few years pontificating on political matters in an obviously forlorn attempt to portray himself as a future Chosen One.
The South China Morning Post reports that Woo warns the young not to ‘sacrifice their future 30 years’ by taking part in the planned illegal (by definition) protest, inviting us to believe that three decades in a re-education camp awaits them all. As if that doesn’t convince you to take part, the paper reminds us that fellow property tycoons (of the vintage variety) Li Ka-shing and Lee Shau-kee have also spoken out against Occupy Central. The only other thing you need to know is that the Communist mouthpieces at China Daily are still visibly freaked out by Occupy Central, and bingo – everyone’s marking June 22 in their diaries again, with the SCMP helpfully explaining how.
As a perceptive and erudite commenter puts it: “Marie is insanely hot in this interview…and the fact that her brain cannot generate independent thoughts is even HOTTER.” Donny Osmond and his sister in the 70s explaining to the best of their abilities why the Mormon Church did not (at that time) allow blacks to become priests. In case you missed it the first time round.