And the most clueless of all – Beijing


At the last minute, Hong Kong’s Occupy Central pro-democracy movement abandons a planned poll of its followers over the ‘way forward’. To those of us too impatient to follow all the details, the saga suggests friction between academic/bureaucratic and spontaneous/anarchic tendencies – perhaps an attempt by OC SCMP-OccupyLeadersfounder Benny Tai and friends to impose some sense of direction over the various Umbrella sub-cultures scattered among tent cities and barricades in Admiralty, Causeway Bay and the Communard settlement of Mongkok.

The anti-Occupy forces are hardly a model of discipline, either. After doing nothing apart from shaking hands after anti-Occupy thugs assault members of the media, police arrest a herbalist. Officials awkwardly voice their shock. Under pressure from Beijing, the establishment tries to bolster its legitimacy by portraying protestors as a ‘threat to rule of law’; but the real threat to rule of law lies in the government’s response – such as apparently (implicitly, allegedly) looking the other way when the thugs do their thing. Meanwhile, like the lingering after-effect of an illness, ‘Silent Majority’ leader Robert Chow is back with another petition campaign; 652,970 signatures appear out of nowhere in support of the police and law and order.

Even the Mainland officials managing the situation don’t seem to have their act together. An intriguing English-language Xinhua article published over the weekend criticized Hong Kong’s tycoons for largely remaining silent about Occupy Central. It seems to have been pulled from official websites, but is still here. The pro-tycoon Standard’s editorial tries to rationalize it without upsetting anyone, and concludes that either a rogue writer was at work, or the piece was a warning to the plutocrats to step into line. A third explanation – for those of us into wishful thinking – is that Beijing is coming to its senses and preparing to dump Hong Kong’s feudal, cartel-owning billionaires.

Anything could be happening. Chief Executive CY Leung made a major error last week in suggesting that the less-wealthy cannot be trusted with the vote (though the pro-democracy camp has typically failed to do much with this gift). The pro-tycoon Liberal Party’s slimy James Tien has suggested that CY stand down – just as he stabbed then-CE Tung Chee-hwa in the back following mass protests in 2003. Do the tycoons smell blood? More to the point: are they rejoicing that it’s CY’s blood or petrified that it’s their own?

If the Chinese government can’t get its head around the mess it has created in Hong Kong, it’s understandable. For murky reasons, they have heavily favoured tycoons over the local public interest since 1997. Yet (also in murky circumstances following the crash of shoe-in Henry Tang) they appointed a CE the tycoons hated in 2012. That man – CY Leung – then somehow managed to alienate the population even more than the unacceptable Henry would probably have done. Having a government-tycoon alliance at odds with the general population was hardly ideal (though the Communist regime seemed reasonably comfortable with it); now Hong Kong’s government and tycoons could be openly splitting, which would leave Beijing with a sort of three-way civil war to fix.

Despite the inability of the pro-dem camp to capitalize on it, anti-tycoon sentiment is not going away. Common sense suggests that Beijing will take this into consideration when it decides what to do. Right?

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14 Responses to And the most clueless of all – Beijing

  1. Stephen says:

    I’m sure Benny, Alex, Joshua etc think they should take a vote on everything to bolster their democratic principles – however sometimes you just can’t and you have to lead. Message back to the government that you want Round 2 of the talks and keep talking until Beijing, through Carrie, gives you something concrete. You’re not going to civil nomination but if you can get a less rigged nominating committee, that allows a democrat, on the ballot, consider this a win. Then the talks should progress to ensuring those rotten boroughs (Functional Consistencies) disappear forever after 2016 – another win.

    Stripped of their FC’s and colluding CE’s the population can give the Tycoons the kicking they so richly deserve. In the meantime Do not drink in LKF – lest you will be indirectly putting money in that cock Allen Semen’s pocket.

  2. Scotty Dotty says:

    When you look at the tent collections at Admiralty Protest HQ now, after one month, you can’t see this ending without some serious police action. It’s just too big and CY and Beijing are too small in the brains department to find a peaceful end

    Hence Robert and his clones getting behind Plod… they know where this is going and want to look visionary

    Before the handover, what’s the betting Robert (and his clone buddies) were bleating on about the nasty colonial police, imposing wicked things like law and order on superior Chinese culture that did not need such western things. How things have changed, eh

  3. Joe Blow says:

    @Stephen: hear hear ! Yes, seriously folks, avoid LKF. Wyndham Street and Soho are excellent alternatives, and a whole lot less mainlanders.

    Very slightly off topic: getting rid of The Liar may prove to be a whole lot easier for Beijing than finding a replacement. Who would want this job at this moment in time ? (apart from some power-mad bat like Vagina)

  4. PCC says:

    Every one of those civil service lizards surrounding the CE are there strictly for the money. Not one of them could find a higher-paying job in the private sector if his or her life depended on it. Believe me, any one of them would take the CE job in a heartbeat, if only for the increase in pay and perks.

  5. PD says:

    The link to the Xinhua article didn’t work for me.

    Stephen, The OC movement should make its own decisions, especially on when or if to compromise with the two governments.

    The last 25 years have shown again and again that Peking and its local stooges can’t be trusted an inch. They break the most solemn promises and crush anyone who dares to stand up to them, even verbally or peacefully. Remember mainland human-rights lawyers, Scarborough Shoal and Tienanmen?

    Since the only language they understand is brute force/kiasu/faits accomplis, the only way to oppose them is to avoid getting enmeshed in their weasely web — and that includes accepting face-saving breadcrumbs from the masters’ table.

    Rubbing their noses in the awful mess CY and co have made may go some way to stopping them in the future.

  6. gweiloeye says:

    Ah yes the “Peace, Love, and Mung Beans Silent Majority” rabble who sat in Kennedy Town on the only day we try and get some actual Peace and quiet, just downstairs from my apartment block, with a blaring speaker with some prerecorded drone on rotation, getting every octagenarian to sign a piece of paper they probably could not even read or sign properly. The sign said “Support our police”, obviously the anti-occupy message is falling on deaf ears, so they need to take a new tack.

    Add to this the Highways department doesn’t beleive in that Sunday is a no construction noide day and decided it was perfect time to resurface 100 metres of road just outside our building as well. I love the sound of jack hammers and resurfacing machinery at 9.00am on a Sunday.

    It was enough to drive me to go to the pub at midday – damn shame that!

  7. Chopped Onions says:

    HK tycoons reluctant to take side amid Occupy turmoil
    Foreign 2014-10-25 12:59
    By Xinhua writer Yan Hao

    HONG KONG, Oct. 25 (Xinhua) — Former Hong Kong chief executive Tung Chee-hwa on Friday urged once again protesters to end their Occupy Central movement since thousands of students started sit-in protests on Sept. 28 over the region’s next top leader’s election in 2017.

    Sworn in as the first chief executive in 1997 right after the former British colony was handed over to China, the 77-year-old Tung now serves as vice chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, China’s top political advisory body, who is the only state-level leader in the special administrative region.

    One week before the Occupy movement, Tung led a high-profile billionaires delegation representing Hong Kong’s industrial and business communities to Beijing and met with President Xi Jinping.

    At that meeting, President Xi asked the Hong Kong billionaires to “be united and make concerted efforts to jointly create an even brighter future for Hong Kong led by the central government as well as the region’s chief executive and government.”

    Tung is among the few tycoons in Hong Kong who have voiced opposition to the almost month-long movement that has severely disrupted traffic in the city and affected the daily lives of Hong Kongers.

    “My fellow students, I have heard your appeals for more democracy and agree with the ultimate goal. Who does not want a more democratic society?” Tung said in the former chief executive’ s official mansion.

    “In civilized societies, conflicts are resolved through dialogue, not in streets. Students should not use the occupation as bargaining chips for negotiation with the government.”

    In fact, Tung himself was also a businessman. Born in Shanghai, Tung took over his family business after his father, shipping magnate Tung Chao Yung, died in 1981 and managed Orient Overseas, one of the world’s leading shipping and logistics service providers.

    Sitting next to Tung at the meeting with President Xi was Li Ka- shing who made a statement on Oct. 15, calling on the Occupy protesters to go home and not to “let today’s passion become tomorrow’s regrets.” The Asia’s wealthiest man did not make it clear whether or not he agrees with the appeals of the protesters.

    Li built his family business empire from plastics manufacturing and accumulated wealth through real estate, supermarket chains and mobile phone network.

    Other Hong Kong tycoons, such as Lee Shau-kee, nicknamed “Hong Kong’s Warrenn Buffett,” Kuok Hock Nien known for his sugar refineries in Asia, and Woo Kwong-ching whose businesses range from Hong Kong’s cable TV to the Star Ferry, have all remained mute.

    Except for Tung who made himself clear at Friday’s press conference, none of the tycoons at President Xi’s meeting has expressed support to the police’s handling of the demonstrations and Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s government.

    However, many small business owners and taxi drivers flared up at the protesters and their attempts to remove the barricades in Mong Kok, a commercial district in Kowloon, led to clashes with the demonstrators.

    Hong Kong, with a 7-million population and just one-sixth the size of the mainland’s metropolis Shanghai, has ranked the world’s 7th in terms of GDP per capita at purchasing power parity, according to the International Monetary Fund.

    The city also has one of the largest income disparities in the world with its Gini index, the most commonly used measure of inequality, rose to a record-high 0.537 in 2011.

    Many Occupy protesters said one of the reasons for their ” hopeless” lives which they believe need more democracy, is that they are dismayed by various livelihood woes, for instance, an unaffordable housing price.

    About 1.3 million Hong Kongers, or 19.6 percent of the population, live below a poverty line of 11,500 Hong Kong dollars (1,483.5 U.S. dollars) for a three-member household per month, which was set by the Hong Kong government last year.

    The threshold, drawn at half of Hong Kong’s median monthly household income before tax and welfare transfers, is way behind the average housing price, around 3,000 U.S. dollars per square foot.

    Despite continued preferential economic policies given by China ‘s central government to the Asian financial hub since 1997, a sentiment simmers among Hong Kong’s blue-collar class that they benefited much less from those policies than the industrial and business elites.

    One of the key demands of the Occupy protesters is to introduce “civil nomination” in choosing candidates for the next chief executive before all Hong Kong’s eligible voters cast their ballots in 2017.

    According to China’s top legislature’s decision on Aug. 31, the committee tasked with nominating two to three candidates for the next leader will be a 1,200-member panel similar to the one which elected incumbent Chief Executive Leung, but protesters said it lacks legitimacy for the planned universal suffrage.

    The protesters also vented their anger at the Hong Kong police’ s use of tear gas to disperse protesters on Sept. 28 and Leung’s report to the top legislature, which they think was misleading Beijing on Hong Kongers’ real demands on the universal suffrage.

    Leung said during an interview with foreign media on Tuesday that there was still room to make the nomination committee more democratic, such as replacing corporate votes with individual ballots.

    If so, more grassroots employees, rather than their bosses, would have a say in nominating chief executive candidates who will run for the 2017 vote.

    Days later, James Tien, leader of the pro-business Liberal Party, said that Chief Executive Leung should consider stepping down not for his policies but the growing difficulties for governance.

    Tien is the first major figure from the pro-establishment camp to publicly suggest Leung’s resignation during the Occupy movement. Being a successful boss in clothing and real estate, he is the first son of Hong Kong late textile industry’s magnate Tien Yuan- hao.

  8. delboy says:

    Just wait until there is an outpouring of capital from HK; any day soon now. Not because of the students occupying Admiralty, but because of the realisation that this plonker government has no regard for the rule of law.

    When all the money and property that the CCP stooges over the border invested here disappears, they will know who is responsible; and there will be blood; CY Leung’s

    Can’t wait for the show.

  9. Cassowary says:

    Sometimes I wonder whether we would have been any better or worse off with Henry “Tell Me Where To Sign” Tang. He might have been less hated because he doesn’t come across as much like a mustache-twirling villain, but on the other hand we’d have probably ended up with materially worse policies as he is obviously a creature of the tycoons.

  10. Real SCMP Commenter says:

    I think it’s worth drawing attention to this:

    The lawyer representing the Secretary of Justice (whose representation was requested by one of the Plaintiffs, Golden Investment, owners of Citic Tower) has told the court that police are standing by to arrest anyone flouting the injunction, y’know, just thought we’d mention it, should m’lud request it.

    So the government is attempting to abdicate responsibility and is hoping to dupe a High Court judge into issuing the order – and take the ensuing flak – instead. They probably have their scripts already written: “following a High Court decision bla bla rule of law bla bla not a political decision.”


    I hope (and expect) that the judge kicks them into touch.

  11. Incredulous says:

    I bumped into Martin Lee today at Umbrella Square and he told me there’s nothing they (the government) can do at the moment and that he was quite cheerful about going to jail if necessary – what a lovely bloke!

  12. Joe Blow says:

    @ PCC: there is a ring of truth to what you say. There is always a band of loser opportunists who will grab any chance to line their pockets, no matter what. During WW ll every town and city in occupied Europe had a bunch of traitors who were willing to take official positions (many were executed after liberation).

    But talking about mainstream politicians/ bureaucrats in Hong Kong: anyone who is remotely associated with this train wreck government can forget about a political future. They are dead meat.

    There will always be THOSE questions: why did you serve The Liar ? And why didn’t you speak up ?

    By the way: kudos to Chow Yun-fat, for standing up.
    I guess it will be an awful long time before Jacky (IQ 71) Chan will do the same.

  13. Cassowary says:

    Because this protest has thrown up so much ridiculous stuff you couldn’t even make up (the female PR executive publicly cheering sexual assault was a real classic), I believe that the next logical step would be for the blue ribboners to beat up the police for failing to do their jobs. Their failure to enforce the law must mean that they have been infiltrated by traitorous yellow ribboners. Therefore the only solution is to beat them up and seize their riot gear and do the job themselves.

  14. LRE says:

    I have enjoyed seeing some of the “verified” signatories to Bob The Bileduct’s “I’m with stupid” petition on the web — C. Ronaldo and Miss Wong See Tai (Yellow Ribbon) are standout examples of how rigorous the verification system is.

    But I can’t help noticing that Bob The Bileduct has gone somewhat off-message with his petition. In keeping with KY Antoinette’s pronouncement, surely all signatories should provide proof of earnings over HK$14k per month?

    And talking of off-message, one has to admire the huge progress the Blue Ribbon movement have made by getting RTHK to stop interviewing them and covering their events. It looks they may reach their goal of having their opinions about Hong Kong politics completely ignored by everyone well before the Occupy movement reach any of their goals.

    The blue ribbons other goal of making more people support the police may elude them – not only have they managed to make police actions at their rally questionable, but also some of their more fervent supporters may feel less supportive after their arrest for assault and criminal damage.

    Nice to see KY still in full Monty Python suicide squad mode on the PR front!

    “Now alienating the religious and sporting demographics…. please take a number, your customised alienating insult will be with you shortly. Thank you for shopping at CYSuper.”

    @Joe Blow — you can hardly blame Jackie Chan for being quiet, given that his son is up for drugs charges in Beijing that could conceivably be escalated to the death penalty, or commuted to 6 months, with a medium legal guess of 3 years. Perhaps without that carrot/stick he’d be just as quiet for career reasons, but the stakes are definitely higher than that for Jackie at the moment.

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