The sound of reshuffled priorities

In an uncharacteristic display of hip n’ groovy, in-tune-with-the-kids lateral thinking, the Hong Kong Police decide to let people scribble with chalk on the wall of a government building without fear of arrest, incarceration, family separation or worse. The previous strategy – daring pro-democracy teenagers to treat the patch of gray concrete as Forbidden Fruit – was so obviously counterproductive even the cops (or someone SCMP-PoliceTakeLennonhigher up in officialdom) saw sense. The truth probably dawned when activist-wits started leaving boxes of chalk lying around in convenient locations.

At no stage following the Occupy-Umbrella events of late 2014 will anyone in government openly admit that policymakers have failed and a significant shift is now necessary. But we can already hear a hasty reshuffling of priorities behind closed doors. The education bureaucracy has quietly proposed ending certain subsidies to universities for accepting non-local (typically Mainland) students. This minor tweak could free up a few more course places for local students. More to the point it addresses a criticism young protestors can exploit against the authorities. Officials are also trying to appear conciliatory on constitutional reform. This includes pondering the ‘none of the above’ option for voters to reject every Chief Executive candidate on the ballot. And there is talk of a low-ish hurdle – support of one-eighth of the Nominating Committee – to take part in the preliminary Beijing-rigged race to get on the ballot.

So far, so lame. Barring a coup d’etat in Beijing, no serious concessions on 2016-17 election arrangements are possible. But that leaves plenty of scope for panicky Titanic deckchair-rearrangement Band-Aids in education, employment, housing, economic diversification, welfare and other areas in next week’s Policy Address. Indeed, it will be amusing (as reading Policy Addresses goes) to spot the clumsy attempts to mollify an angry – especially young – citizenry, inserted into the speech as afterthoughts. Identify 10 or more and you can win a special loan for 20-somethings to start up a new business in Qianhai.

The message will be: We won’t listen – until you Occupy the streets; then we will, but not much, as we’ve already forgotten those ‘We’ll Be Back’ banners and assume you’ll be happy with that and go away.

On the subject of amusement, I watched The Interview over the weekend. I expected it to be 75% puerile, gross, vulgar unfunniness; it was more like 50%. I was similarly delighted that the 5% level of halfway-thoughtful satire I anticipated occupied more like 10-15% of the film (according to my highly accurate objective method of quantifying these things). But it was clunky. Some sort of homo-erotic thing between the two lead characters kept cropping up. And an outburst of gratuitous gore (people biting each other’s fingers off) came towards the end for no obvious reason except, perhaps, because some Hollywood accountant decided the 15-24 male demographic needed it. I also saw Guardians of the Galaxy – hilariously stupid-and-proud-of-it pap, and far more enjoyable.

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15 Responses to The sound of reshuffled priorities

  1. Joe Blow says:

    What is it with those lame chalk drawings that can hardly be seen and wash off with a hose ?

    The revolution needs spray cans that can carry the message all over town, on every wall, sidewalk and jewellery store window. Colorful stickers that are hard to remove are also a good way to express creativity.

  2. Cassowary says:

    You know, I would pay good money for someone to replace the entire teleprompter text of CY Leung’s policy address, seconds before he mounts the podium, with variations of “I am Groot”.

    It would be more entertaining and no less substantive.

  3. Stephen says:

    You can tell when a proposal (None of the above) has come from a source other than the liaison office as our principle officials are clueless on how to react as they’ve not been told. Do they give it a thumbs up or a thumbs down ? Give it a thumbs up as it still produces the same result. Utter farce veto it.

  4. PD says:

    HK tertiary students outside the big three are distressingly identikit-like in their monotonous uniformity. The aim of the subsidy for overseas students was to acquaint them with other modes of thought.

    But, predictably, the scheme was swamped by our cousins from Up North, who, on occasion, refused to allow classes in (nominally anglophone) universities to be given in Cantonese, not to mention the social tensions.

    Maybe I’m naive but mightn’t having a 12.5% threshold in the Selection Committee leading directly, without further hurdles, to a vote by all adult HKers give a democrat the shadow of a chance?

  5. Cassowary says:

    There’s a report in the New York Times today about Xi Jinping’s purges. This is definitely not just an anti-corruption drive, he’s gone into full ideological purge mode. The rabid, authoritarian wing of the Party who despise all things Western are nostalgic for the days of Mao, pig iron and public floggings are cheering and celebrating. Presumably dourly. With cold water and boiled tree bark.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/05/world/chinas-maoists-are-revived-as-thought-police.html

  6. reductio says:

    @Cassowary

    Don’t lower the debate. The whole political process is in need of reform and all you can do is make silly remarks. What you should have said is “… with variations of “I am Rocket Raccoon.”” Actually, thinking about it “Guardians of Hong Kong” is a film idea with bags of potential.

  7. Cassowary says:

    There is no debate, only farce. If there were a debate, people wouldn’t have had to occupy the streets for two months only to get beaten up and condescended to. All there’s left to do is point and laugh.

  8. Tom says:

    My wife insists that Rocket Racoon is actually a red panda.

    Technically he’s an alien experiment creature thing that only *looks* like a raccoon, so she may have something of a point.

  9. reductio says:

    @Cassowary

    Agreed. Although working in CB as I do it’s usually point and gag at the unending displays of inanity (these face products are ALL THE SAME, PEOPLE!!! and do NOT contain life giving essence, stem cells, laser beams or “dermatological lifting power”. And don’t get me started on the watches.

    Ahem.

    @ Tom

    My wife hated GOTG. She also doesn’t like Blade Runner and thinks Dark Star is “dumb”. Sometimes I wonder how our marriage has survived so long.

  10. Scotty Dotty says:

    Happy New Year to our esteemed blogger and all the posters. Hope 2015 is a good year for everyone.

    Agree with Hemmers there is a sound of reshuffling in Hong Kong, to bring in a new year.

    It’s all coming from the Xi-Leung dressing down on the latter’s duty kotow visit to Peking over Christmas. I’ve heard a replay of the very brief chat. The highlights were:

    Leung: “O great master, I come in humble…

    Xi: “Look!” [Leung duly looks at his shoes]. You broke it, Hong Kong was fine until you and your mob took over, you fix it.”

    Leung (nervously): “But I wasn’t in control when Tung was and Don…”

    Xi: “Whatever.”

    Leung: “Um… okay. Sorry sir.”

    Xi (raising his eyes): “Just fookin fix it. And don’t bother me again. I’ve got a nation of a billion to run, 900,000 of whom are corrupt, you think I care about you and your few thousand rich students.”

    Leung: “When you put it like that. I have improved understanding of the great patriotic journey of the massess…”

    Xi: “Oh shut up, man. Next.”

    Leung looks bewildered as ushers show him to the exit.

    Xi (loudly across the room): “I’m serious, Leung, if you can’t fix Hong Kong then I’ll lose face. And you don’t want to see me when I lose face.”

    Leung spluttered inanities as he exits the hall arse first. Then he called Rita Fan to share he’s wet his knickers, again, and… someone better think up something.

    Just as Rita is about to put the phone down, Leung adds: “I’m serious, Rita, if you can’t fix Hong Kong then I’ll lose face. And you don’t want to see me when I lose face…”

  11. Doug r says:

    “Is that Katy Perry ?”
    “Leave it on, it’s helping me concentrate.”

  12. Monkey Reborn says:

    @Cassowary

    I read the NYT article … call me a cynic but every time i read an article in the western media about China pitching a certain perspective, i always get the feeling of a spin doctor-style “western media specialist” somewhere in Beijing pimping a story to US journos in order to further a political agenda … a la the Wen Jiabao wealth story (and many of the revelations in the Bo Xilai goings on that were leaked by senior party officials to local HK reporters with western and non-mainland chinese media connections).

    Moreover, IMHO, almost all mainstream western media (hidden systems of influence and control) is more insidious and subversive than propaganda in China (outright and obvious system of control), as many of the goals of media conglomerates (a very concentrated industry, and a big player within the global oligarchic power elite) are concordant with the CCP’s goals in China, except on a global scale – i.e. restriction of anti-systemic information from mass audiences (by restricting debate on many sensitive topics to within “acceptable” boundaries in western mainstream media), enhancement of the power of the state at the expense of individual rights, families, and communities; propagation of a particular set of values, beliefs and ideas (disseminated as “established facts” even when obviously, ironically counterfactual) that are aligned with what appears to be the agenda of a global oligarchic elite. Not to mention the fundamental flaws in the narrative that the US leads an alliance of western liberal democratic nations, who are championing “human rights” and “democracy” around the world, and that there is a universal direction to human progress (I believe there is) that is embodied by the global capitalist system championed by western “democracies” (total horseshit – the model of representative democracy has been consistently subverted over the last 100 years, AND the present global capitalist system retains numerous characteristics of colonialism, which facilitated the first ruthless and tremendously exploitative (as well as profitable) global collective enterprise.

    I could go on and on, apologize for the soap box… if you want to check out western media but filtered through critical, independent minds, many of the articles on http://www.zerohedge.com are excellent, especially about geopolitics, global finance and economics.

    As far as the re-energization of the Maoist “left” in China, this is not a recent phenomenon. I do not believe there is sufficient evidence to support the claim that Xi Jinping or other members of the ruling faction are “Maoists” at heart with no respect for “universal values”, as the NYT article implies… and a careful study of Xi Jinping and his family’s history provides significant evidence to the contrary. Leftists are being mobilized but by which faction in the politburo and why? Is the leftist agenda: a) truly aligned and a part of the long-term vision of Xi Jinping’s cabinet? or b) an expedient play to disarm the opposition? or c) a battle waiting to be fought?

    Too early to say … what i would say though, the greatest danger to our society in HKG, and our mainland brethren, is c) … an attempt to mobilise “the masses” to subvert the current narrative and agenda of the ruling faction.

  13. Monkey Reborn says:

    also known as “playing with fire in a nitroglycerin factory”.

    any comparison to the factional politicking that characterized the late Qing, and by extension, senior CCP cadres to eunuchs, is of course the result of an impure mind corrupted by foreign meddling, that continues to disrespect the factual, objective history of the glorious modern nation state of the (Han) Chinese.

  14. Monkey Reborn says:

    p.s. Happy new year to all commenters and M. Hem, and my best wishes for a year of health, happiness and prosperity for all.

  15. pie-chucker says:

    @ Monkey

    All true, no doubt, in your wider world view.

    But in our election for CS in 2017 why cannot we see a manifesto from ‘our’ candidates?

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