The second round of Hong Kong’s exciting political reform consultation process starts tomorrow, with the release of more detailed proposals for the 2016-17 elections. A failure of this whole exercise would be humiliating for local officials and a spit in the face for Beijing. It is therefore crucial that the government wins the support of at least a few pro-democrat legislators to get any package through. So – what better time to round them all up in a witch-hunt against ‘instigators’ of the Occupy-Umbrella protests late last year? And, for good measure, send the Central Government a report on public opinion that can only be misleading and inflammatory?
Although they can’t remember why they do it, officials stick to the traditional routine of leaking bits of the consultation document to friendly media. Thus we learn of a proposal to cap the number of ‘recommendations’ a hopeful can get from the Nominating Committee in the preliminary or primary stage before final nomination of candidates for the ballot:
“The proposal aims at preventing the scenario of an aspirant getting support from an absolute majority of committee members, which would make it impossible for any other challenger to become a candidate,” a government source familiar with the matter said.
Think about this. Officials foresee a scenario where the majority of Nominating Committee members rush to back one individual wanting to get onto the final shortlist. They are implicitly admitting that the Committee will include a large number of shoe-shiners who will want to ingratiate themselves instantly with the ‘winner’ (as with tycoons in past quasi-elections clamouring to endorse Donald Tsang and – whoops – Henry Tang). And of course it is not so much the ‘winner’ they will want to shoe-shine, but the ultimate selector of the winner, Beijing.
In other words, the proposal under the South China Morning Post’s ‘allow more candidates’ headline suggests more than ever that the ‘universal suffrage’ on offer will just be a more elaborate version of the current quasi-election system in which control-obsessed Beijing identifies the winner first and voters miraculously pick the right person. Under the current system, Beijing simply has to control a slim majority of 1,200 members of the Election Committee (hence 689 votes for CY Leung, even though the tycoon sector plumped for Henry). To get 3 million voters to act as a rubber stamp is more challenging: it will soon become apparent that the only way to do it is to make the rigging of the system laughably obvious and clumsy. Little wonder that by now no-one expects the 2016-17 reforms to go through. It could have been different, but that’s another story.
(Few will regret the failure of the reform package more than aficionados of the vomit-inducing obsequiousness that grips members of Hong Kong’s tycoon caste when indulging in public displays of support for pre-selected winners of rigged elections. Under the ‘allow more candidates’ proposal, only a portion of them would be permitted to endorse the anointed (say) Antony Leung. Those permitted to do so (probably the top dogs) would be smug and proud, while those left out would possibly be bullied into backing (say) Regina Ip for form’s sake, and would be reduced to groveling discreetly to the aforementioned Antony to breathlessly assure him that they really, truly wanted to shoe-shine him, all along, endlessly, slobber slobber slobber. It seems we will, tragically, never get to enjoy this putrid and nauseating performance.)
Meanwhile, the Standard’s feng shui columnist cracks the murders of two women in a British banker’s flat in Wanchai’s J Residence – gua line and ba sha…
As my coworker says, Beijing wishes us to pick between a turd flavoured chocolate, a chocolate flavoured turd, and a turd. The voters will have to hold their noses and vote for the one that is not technically a turd, Tung’s Pet Zombie.
I would consider it amusing if the voters chose Regina Ip purely for the joy of inflicting Her Royal Craziness on Beijing. Well, for about 10 minutes. And then I would have to drink myself to despair.
I wonder how much the value of the British bonker’s flat has reduced? All those external forces, ghosts and bad smells in one place.
Your detailed coverage of the tedium of the Selection Committee betrays considerable merit. Surely even those involved must in the end give up following all the meaningless twists and turns.
Feng shui bollocks in The Standard, horoscope twaddle in the Post, both have no place in 2015.
I’m sure the government’s report on public sentiment will be neutral and balanced in the manner of “Scientists say that the earth is round. Others disagree”.
Just when Occupy is at a low ebb again -post holiday blues- the HK SS Police, following directions from their friends in low places i.e. the Government, are providing another marvellous impulse to the democracy movement by announcing the arrest of 30 protest leaders. These guys are pure genius. I wonder if Cardinal Zen is included; that would be the cherry on the frappuccino.
I hope all Pro-Dems stand firm to deliver humiliation for local officials and spit in the face of the CCP. If this charade passes you can guarantee the next CE will trumpet that they have a popular mandate and legitimacy which – while bollox – will be thoroughly vomit inducing as they will actually believe it (think back to a teary eyed Donald arms aloft after his hard fought slugfest over a bound and gagged Alan Leong). The only proposal left to our local administrators, this time around, is to totally overhaul the nominating committee to make it truly representative of the souls that live here. But that is not allowed to happen …
Too true. But the world is a big place, difficult to grasp. Instead of studying science, mathematics, history, philosophy, economics… it’s a lot easier to go the Qi route or follow the stars. It even infects business. Sorry if I’m treading on toes here, but technical analysis? Give me a break. Whenever I read Nicole Elliot’s latest SCMP death-by-caveat graph report I have to laugh: Dead cat Bounce? Death Cross? Gravestone Doji? Sticking your finger in the wind. If it worked like you say, you wouldn’t be doing it!
“Suicide and murder cases are rare in Hong Kong,” says the Standard’s feng shui guy. Are they?
These stats – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_death_rate – put Hong Kong at 55th least killingish out of 107 countries surveyed, which seems more or less bang average to me.
“round them all up in a witch-hunt against ‘instigators’ of the Occupy-Umbrella protests”
The future is in sight. If you incite
or instigate or agitate
or protest, they will arrest
you, detain you and arraign you.
First bail, then jail.
If you scrawl on a wall
and you’re a kid – you know what they did.
Don’t carry a brolly, it’s folly.
Leave your umbrella in the cellar.
The electoral reforms are not storms.
The weather’s all right, and getting finer.
The future’s bright. This is China.
Excellent! Today’s Chaucer Award, it’s yours
@ Hemlock and all
Yes, it will be pretty sad and embarrassing to watch shoe-shines squirm if Beijing puts a quota on the CE “winner” (how surreal is that) and some shoe-shiners have to vote for the “loser”. Hong Kong post 1997… you couldn’t make it up!
If they are not even willing to pick out 2 or 3 acceptable sock puppets at a time but insist on having the public anoint their Chosen One, then watching them manipulate the election will be pretty painful.
1. Run Winner Against a Hookworm. Pick a designated loser even more awful than Regina. (She won’t win, but they might not want to take the chance on anyone with real ambition). Lau Wong Fat, maybe? But that might be too obvious.
2. Bread and Circuses II. They’ll go with a plausible-sounding candidate and generate a scandal to knock him out. In the absence of mistresses or illegal structures they’ll dredge up some kind of minor real estate tax evasion from 1993 or a plagiarized university thesis. It’ll be blown up huge in the media and just like last time, the candidate will utter some embarrassing arse-covering excuse. His opponent, the Designated Winner, will be licensed to rip him a new one at the televised debate and will win the election, although everybody will almost immediately regret it.
3. Cheat. Aside from bussing in the DAB Grannies and SOE employees, they can take a leaf from the Americans and make people wait in line at the ballot for hours in democratic-leaning districts until they give up and leave, spread misleading voter registration information on university campuses and on Facebook, and disappear people off the voter rolls for arcane reasons. If all else fails, stuff the ballot boxes.