Striking students battle Uncle Four for hearts and minds

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Stan-AcademicsPleaHong Kong students start a five-day boycott of classes to protest the Chinese government’s plans for semi-quasi-democratic elections in the city in 2017. Youthful idealism and campus unrest add up to potent symbolism, which can energize and amplify political struggle, or sell movies. This week’s action may not exactly be Strawberry Statement, but if thousands join in, as organizers hope, it will be a first in Hong Kong.

In a society that takes education ultra-seriously, boycotting lessons seems almost perverse (sympathetic lecturers are promising participants catch-up classes). One Executive Council member who mocks the idea will strike a chord among more than a few citizens, especially those who never had a chance at college. Pro-dem academics meanwhile plead with the public for support.

As if to help them out, the Big Lychee’s plutocracy answers en masse a summons to Beijing. The tycoons will receive strict orders to fully support the official lines on the correctness of the proposed political reform and the dangers of pro-democracy sit-ins.

Someone in Beijing seems to imagine that the sight of octogenarian real-estate cartelist Lee Shau-kee of Henderson Land wagging his finger and demanding ‘constructive debate’ will impress us. It could instead horribly backfire, if the pro-dems seized on the cronyism and the way the Communist regime and local administration favour the interests of the property tycoons over everyone else. Should they need more ammunition, here it comes served on a plate with news that Mainlanders are back, buying up Hong Kong apartments to keep empty while ordinary residents can’t afford homes. The pro-dems could generate outrage with all this. But, infuriatingly, they won’t. It’ll be more blather about nominating committees; it is possible that they fear the responsibility of having a real impact.

So both Beijing and the pro-dems remain too obtuse to connect with broad public opinion. Whichever side manages to be that little bit less clueless is in with a chance. You wouldn’t normally pay much heed to Epoch Times – propaganda sheet for the creepy wacko quasi-Buddhist Falun Gong sect – and the South China Morning Post’s ‘City Beat’ column, which seems to be dictated by Beijing officials and/or the paper’s own octogenarian shoe-shining owner. But both oddly agree that the Chinese government might be about to turn on the charm for Hong Kong, with all the warmth a Communist dictatorship can muster. Behold a ‘much more relaxed definition’ of foreign running dogs we detest, and a rejigging of Legislative Council constituencies to squeeze out fringe lawmakers and boost chances for more mainstream bores. There’s also talk of opening up the business-dominated functional constituencies in 2020.

All about rearranging ornaments, really. But with the debate focused on theoretical political-process-within-a-one-party-state rather than on the rotten day-to-day outcomes of cronyism and cartels, the fight for public opinion will come down to such superficialities, however inspiring the students prove to be.

Central and Western District Council, always aesthetically challenged, contributes to public dissatisfaction through its choice of nasty pastel colours for National Day decorations.

Central and Western District Council, always aesthetically challenged, contributes to public dissatisfaction through its choice of nasty pastel colours for National Day decorations.

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10 Responses to Striking students battle Uncle Four for hearts and minds

  1. Stephen says:

    It really is one of the Hong Kong mysteries of our time – Why the population at large and the Pro-Dems don’t get more on the case of these odious tycoons?

    Kudos the UK tabloid who run a belated expose of Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic bollox last weekend. Come on Apple Daily you could have a field day with stories of Uncle Li, Uncle New World and Uncle Henderson (The Uncles Kwok are making their own headlines) that would give the students something to read and hopefully get angry about this week…

  2. AHW says:

    Sai Kung is covered in Chinese flags… never seen so many in the town & villages before, particularly outside the temple, which seems not quite right somehow.

  3. Funster says:

    I don’t think the Media is going to help get on the case of the tycoons.

    I think it will come from the students, so many opportunities to lampoon the tycoons & the Govts slavish devotion to them.

    First student union to print some cartoon T shirts with LKS etc rampaging through HK streets like Godzilla watched by cowering Govt ( mainland & HK ) officials would get my cash for an XL.

  4. Groggery says:

    “… it is possible that they fear the responsibility of having a real impact.”

    That probably explains it. The super wealthy Pro-Dems are as much invested in the corrupt system as anyone and don’t want property prices to come down.

  5. Maugrim says:

    Stephen, as Lucy Van Pelt once said to Snoopy, “the hand that controls the supper dish controls the world”. Just a hunch, I’m pretty sure the offspring of some Dems address some of our oligarchs as uncle, their parents earning a living close to such interests, cough.

  6. nulle says:

    Stephen.

    you forgot Apple Daily are little busy dealing with the ICAC, the police, the tax and revenue, the CE and the pro-Beijing front. While the other newspapers (incl. the standard and poSCMP) are busy sucking the Beijing’s stick.

    ———–

    I wonder what happens to the balls of everyone in HK? Has everyone in HK all become wusses and not stand up to Beijing en masse.

  7. Kownot says:

    “Central and Western District Council, always aesthetically challenged, contributes to public dissatisfaction through its choice of nasty pastel colours for National Day decorations.”

    I’m lucky to be colour-blind. I’m not dissatisfied. The two little angels are lovely.

  8. old git says:

    There is another problem for the HK Govt: cash-flow. It is supposed to depend on LegCo’s co-operation. Instead, the Govt is not making tax-refunds for last year, but keeping the cash against this year’s anticipated tax-take. That way they can generate about 50% of needed cash-flow without LegCo’s co-operation.

  9. Joe Blow says:

    I am so proud of these young people. One day, when democracy finally arrives in China -which is inevitable- we can say that it all started here and now. Just as Sun Yat-sen did one hundred years ago, in Central.

    By the way, has RTP died ?

  10. White Tiger says:

    “All about rearranging ornaments”? All about rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic, more like.

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