Hong Kong Chief Secretary Carrie Lam starts 2015 with a sobering reminder that a make-believe constitutional reform consultation process remains underway. That’s enough fun with yellow umbrellas, banners hung from mountains and police bellies, she could be saying; time to get back to the real work of fake opinion-gathering, fictitious consensus-creation and pretend-fascination with the minutiae of rigged electoral bodies.
During an earlier part of this exercise, the government sent a report to the Central Government pretty much stating that Hong Kong people would be delighted to go along with Beijing’s predetermined ‘quasi-democracy’ outcome. This, and Beijing’s subsequent white paper insisting that the ‘quasi-democracy’ would be ultra-quasi, fed into the anger that exploded in the Occupy-Umbrella-Chalk Girl-etc uprising of the last few months.
Un-nerved by the students at the start, the government promised to send a sort of supplementary report to Beijing – the implication being that this one would be a tad more truthful. This will soon be ready. However, it cannot contradict the earlier narrative; instead, it promises to be some sort of account of the August-December period. It will not admit that Hong Kong’s atrocious governance had for several years been making some sort of disturbances inevitable. But it might concede that the community is not as fully supportive of rigged election nominations as it could be. (Will the new report mention the ‘foreign interference’ masterminding the protests and threatening national security? The Hyper-Nervous Choice of Words Section of the Government Scribes Department will be working overtime on this document.)
As a hint of the dreariness to come, a university professor proposes that voters be given the formal power to reject all the Chief Executive candidates on the Beijing-approved ballot. Sounds fun. But in the event of this happening, the 1,200-strong Nominating Committee would elect an interim CE in the traditional way (that is, Beijing decides the winner). So in effect your veto gets vetoed in no uncertain terms, as someone even less acceptable gets the job for a period to encourage voters to think positive next time.
He’s a mildly pro-Beijing prof, and no doubt only trying to help. Legislative Council President Tsang Yok-sing seems OK with the idea, while Executive Council member Cheng Yiu-tong doesn’t. Both are from the Communist Party’s core local front. (I suppose Beijing might find the idea appealing if it reduces the possibility of voters physically boycotting the election and dragging the turnout down to credibility-busting lows.) The Civic Party’s Alan Leong gently points out that this still doesn’t offer any real choice of candidates. Now he mentions it, in the grand scheme of things – feudal cartels, property hegemony, Mainlandization, collusion, corruption, inequality – it’s totally irrelevant. We’ve got months of this ahead.
I declare the weekend open with hopes that sitting through The Interview, purely for purposes of research, will not be as tedious as some reviewers suggest.