With ludicrously unsubtle timing, some sort of scandal – ‘Secret-payments-gate’ – comes out of nowhere and lands in Hong Kong Chief Executive CY Leung’s lap. He is now irreparably and terminally toxic. Unless, of course, he isn’t.
It was no secret that CY separated from property services company DTZ in late 2011, and it went without saying that he would have benefited financially; obviously the details were confidential and no concern of ours. The big deal now is whether he should have included the deal in his declaration of interests on becoming CE in mid-2012.
The defence says ‘no’ because he was being paid for past services; because agreement to serve in an advisory capacity in the future assumed that he would not become CE; and because he was not holding public office at the time. The prosecution says ‘yes’ because he was being paid to refrain from competing with the company in the future; because some of the payment came after he took office; and because we should have learnt by now in Hong Kong that you declare everything, right down to your grandmother’s nail clippers. To add the feel of more scumminess to the affair, we can note that while CY got a HK$50 million payout, the company left creditors unpaid.
Hong Kong’s pro-democrats, with so much else to rant about right now, are muttering about impeachment and insinuating bribery. The pro-establishment press, as if uncertain which way the wind is blowing on this, are giving the story factual and temperate coverage on not-too-prominent, not-too-obscure page 2.
Assuming we don’t – can’t – believe the timing is coincidental, the obvious question is: who leaked this and why? The Central People’s Government keeps dirt on everyone, and Chairman Xi Jinping is shaping up as an above-averagely ruthless tyrant, so our immediate suspicion might be that this is Beijing’s charming way of easing CY out. But why do it so messily when the guy could just resign because of leg (or family) problems? Why do it so swiftly when (so far as we can see) there is no obvious replacement to hand? Most of all, why do something that primarily benefits the pro-democrats, if only by diverting attention away from the growing disunity over Occupy Central and other tactics?
Seen this way, it seems more likely that this is the work of dastardly CIA-backed traitors and splittists attempting to overthrow one-party rule and bring Hong Kong under foreign control to prevent the motherland from its destiny as leading global power. In that case, Beijing will do all it can to support him.
An alternative explanation (to almost any Chinese puzzle you can think of) is that this is a factional thing – part of the internal struggle between Jiang Zemin’s old guard and Xi’s neo-Maoist-or-whatever usurpers. Revenge for the fatal revelation of Henry Tang’s basement!
Conspiracy theorists might like the idea that Hong Kong’s tycoons are behind it, choosing their moment with characteristically avaricious haste to oust the hated outsider. However, this would be just weeks after lining up on their knees to kiss Xi Jinping’s toes in the Great Hall of the People in a grand display of fealty, including pledges of loyalty to CY.
Personally, I think the evil wacko daughter did it.
Whatever is going on, common sense tells us that CY has to go. And, given how much space common sense gets around here these days, that probably means he’s still on course to complete his term right through to June 30, 2017.
Zuni Icosahedron announce their next incomprehensible dance thing, entitled 0 I 2. It’s not about the clashes between yellow-ribbon Occupy Central and blue-ribbon anti-Occupy forces – it just looks like it…