Most vacuous consultation document ever?

CharlieHebdo

There is zero academic-standard historical or archaeological evidence that the prophet Mohammed – or Jesus, or Moses, or Abraham – existed. (Richard Carrier is probably a good place to start.) Yet these figures and their associated mythologies are abundantly real to some 2-3 billion believers today. That’s so many that we politely express respect for their ‘faith’ rather than plead with them to get a grip and confront what is essentially a mild mental disorder. Until something happens, and you lose patience and have to ask out loud why, in the 21st Century, there are still people wandering around who think an invisible person in the sky listens and talks to them and even commands them to slaughter cartoonists.

Perhaps we put up with it because delusion is not restricted to belief in the supernatural. The Chinese Communist Party, which requires its members to be atheist, is convinced that enemies are everywhere. In particular, it sees Western powers engaged in a secret plot to overthrow it, possibly by using Hong Kong as a base. There is no reasoning with these paranoiacs, and mockery doesn’t work. Awkwardly, the Chinese government once indicated that Hong Kong could elect its leader by universal suffrage. We must now all take part in a make-believe process to decide how this will work, given that a one-party state cannot accommodate a free and open election, even in one city.

Except many people are refusing to take part. The pro-democrats’ boycott of the second round of consultations on political reform could: deprive the process of any remaining integrity and leave it totally farcical; enable a smooth, bickering-free process and enhance the ultimate appearance of consensus; or go unnoticed either way. Whatever happens, they aim to veto the eventual package.

The monumentally vapid consultation document is so lacking in even superficial or ornamental ways to make a rigged election system look a bit fairer that some observers conclude that the government wants the exercise to fail. (Surely, that would convince the pro-dems to vote for the package – but maybe that’s what officials want them to think.) The document certainly reflects Beijing’s post-Occupy determination to maintain tight control over the Election/Nomination Committee through such structures as over-representation of obscure functional constituencies and corporate voting. The document presents the option of keeping such devices intact as one that will encourage ‘an early consensus’…

SubsectorsInFour

SCMP-ConstitutionalAffRaymIn the South China Morning Post item, Constitutional Affairs secretary Raymond Tam hints that, following the Occupy protests, the Agriculture and Fisheries Subsector members are unwilling to see a cut in their representation to create a new Youth subsector. This is mendacious crap. It was only because of the protests that anyone suggested a Youth subsector. More to the point, these pro-Beijing groupings do not decide their own fate. They are shoe-shiners: if Chinese officials phone them with instructions to vote for their own abolition, they will obey. If something does or doesn’t happen, it’s because that’s how Beijing wants it; there are no other influences at work here.

The Standard has a cute diagram explaining the Chief Executive election in 2017…

Stan-Stage1

However, the picture is missing a hurdle – one at far left that the (up to) 12 hopefuls must leap to be considered for the shortlist of two or three. It will take endorsement of only a small proportion (maybe 10-15%) of Nomination Committee members to get a hopeful in the running, which means a pan-democrat could easily qualify. It’s at the second stage that Beijing’s inbuilt majority comes into play and we get a bloc-vote of 50%-plus for each of China’s two or three favoured candidates. As Chief Secretary Carrie Lam wearily points out (though not in these exact words), it’s in the period between hurdles 1 and 2 that debates and public opinion polls create the theoretical potential for something to happen beyond Beijing’s micro-management powers.

Here’s the scenario: the pro-democrat among the 12 hopefuls is so dazzling, intelligent, handsome, scandal-free and charismatic that he gets rave support among the public and Beijing cannot leave him off the ballot without riots breaking out. Why does that sound about as likely as Mohammed or Jesus walking through the door?

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28 Responses to Most vacuous consultation document ever?

  1. Sir Crispin Bentley-Smythe IV says:
  2. Cassowary says:

    “Here’s the scenario: the pro-democrat among the 12 hopefuls is so dazzling, intelligent, handsome, scandal-free and charismatic that he gets rave support among the public and Beijing cannot leave him off the ballot without riots breaking out. Why does that sound about as likely as Mohammed or Jesus walking through the door?”
    We already know that there is nothing too trivial to be construed as a scandal by the pro-Beijing tabloids. Being photographed in a casual setting with any member of the opposite sex under the age of 35 is a scandal. Giving perfectly legal political donations is a scandal. Taking an illegal U-turn once is a scandal. Brushing one’s teeth in one’s underwear in the privacy of one’s own home is a scandal. Possibly the only misdeed that would cause the tabloids to shrug their shoulders and write a paragraph on page C18 is stiffing one’s domestic helper of her wages.

  3. Scotty Dotty says:

    A perfect summary of the fiasco awaiting Hong Kong in 2017, and what a childish “consultation” this is; it’s like watching primary school kids floundering on a school project without their maids to help them.

    I’ve said before posting on this blog and elsewhere, the only way left for Hong Kong in CE elections is “No Confidence” votes. Individuals will destroy their ballot papers en masse by writing “No Confidence” or leaving them blank (same effect). This act of civil disobedience won’t stop a shoe-shiner getting elected but it will make their administration untenable. Beijing’s fault – they’ll just have to live with THAT mess, on top of THIS mess

    One hesitates to quote the nauseating SCMP but, the link by Hemmers says it all. Everyone knows that “No Confidence” votes is where 2017 is headed, even the Dark Side see it:

    “The much-debated idea that the election would be invalidated if the majority of Hongkongers left their ballot papers blank was also left out in the consultation paper. Tam, however, said yesterday that the administration would “positively follow up” the idea – a view echoed by former mainland official in charge of Hong Kong affairs Chen Zuoer.”

  4. Joe Blow says:

    The government (read: Beijing) has stipulated that any potential CE-candidate must not be party-affiliated (except the CCP, I guess). That means that Vagina cannot run. Somehow I can live with that.

  5. Cassowary says:

    The No Confidence option, as currently construed, still leaves Beijing with the ability to say to the public “Play along, or we’ll appoint Lau Nai Keung or someone equally odious.” It’ll be a game of chicken. Would the public be more, or less willing to swallow that nasty piece of work for 2 years than Beijing?

    Come to think of it, the No Confidence option could end up functioning as a way for Beijing to openly rule Hong Kong directly, in 2 year chunks, until the public gives in and behaves. Sure, it will be ugly and their appointed sock puppets will be lame ducks with no credibility, but if they’ve given up Hong Kong as a lost cause anyway… The beatings will continue until morale improves.

  6. reductio says:

    I rarely disagree with Hemmers but the Jesus myth is one of my bugbears so here goes. First off, I’m an atheist but I also have an academic degree in religious studies. The evidence that Jesus existed is quite strong given he was a peasant preacher from the arse-end of the Roman empire. Not unequivocal but this is the norm for most figures in ancient history. I can only draw interested readers to the book by Bart Ehrman “Did Jesus Exist?”. He’s a serious scholar , also an atheist, but very readable. Be very sceptical about material written on this topic by either believers or militant atheists as they often have an agenda to push (religion – Totally yay! or religion – Totally boo!). Personally, on balance, I think we’d all be better off with no religions at all, but that’s irrelevant for judging the historicity of Jesus. As for Muhammad, I’m not a specialist in this area, but I’d say strong evidence he existed. Abraham? Very weak evidence that he existed, basically just what’s written in Genesis, which is essentially a mixture of myth and conflated half-memories. Sorry to bore everyone.

  7. Stephen says:

    Come on we can see where this is going. The proposal in the consultation paper, without any Pro-Dem input, goes to the vote and is rightly vetoed. A few crumbs are thrown (blank votes, party affiliation and tweak of a sub sector or two) but if it’s vetoed again then they have to go back to their farcical, embarrassing, illegitimate election committee. What follows is the blame game and finger pointing. The 2016 lego elections, with all its built in united front safeguards, will (not accurately in terms of seats) reveal where the public is. If the Pro-Dems don’t quickly get their act to together – unite under one party, one leader, one voice – then they will probably lose their veto and this crap will be resurrected and will become the system of “electing” the CE in 2022.

    My sympathies to the families of all those who lost loved ones in Paris yesterday. I fear that Ms. Le Pen was also shot yesterday, in the arm, and I hope fascism doesn’t raise its ugly head in Europe again after 70 years.

  8. reductio says:

    @ Stephen

    In the 30’s it was the fascists who were doing the intimidation and shooting, now it’s the religious crazies, who, like you say could force a right-wing backlash and see a concomitant rise. Communists, fascists, religious zealots: all the same, they have the truth and everyone else is a traitor or heretic who should be eliminated.

  9. Qian Jin says:

    @” it sees Western powers engaged in a secret plot to overthrow it”.

    No it’s not a “SECRET” plot they fear, it is a real and OPENLY EXPRESSED” plan by the West to discredit and hopefully topple the PRC’s one party socialist (but no longer Marxist) system, which is actually providing for the country’s masses far better than any Western style democratic government could .

    The brainwashed West is convinced their multi-party parliamentary democracies are the only system of government which can provide good and righteous rule. Those who believe this are as blind as the followers of the mumbo jumbo faiths, which, you quite fairly, ridicule in your first paragraph.

    If you have read Chinese history in-depth you would start to understand the other side of the complicated equation. China’s advance during the past three decades from almost medieval conditions under war lords and foreign invaders would not have been possible without the national stability which strong and firm one party rule has afforded. What do you want? A powerless legislative process like the one crippling social advancement for all in USA? and where the nation where the poor get even more down-trodden year by year?

    An on the subject of corruption in China…………… another of your favourites! This week we read of a cabal of US Naval Commanders exposed for having their hands in the till to the tune of US$20 million from contractors’ backhanders for services never actually provided. This is what “democracy” allows and unfortunately the thieves seldom get caught except when a whistle-blower comes along. A few suspended death penalties would not go amiss is good ol’ USA for this type of crime.

    Qian Jin . Jin !

  10. reductio says:

    @Qian Jin

    Well, it’s refreshing to have an alternative viewpoint. Some good points, especially about comparisons with times past. You could also add that the CCP probably looks at the basket case that is Russia and says “stuff that”. However, I don’t think Western powers, en masse want to see the end of CCP power. Think Yugoslavia, Syria, Iraq, and the aforementioned Russia. Not exactly happy liberal democracies. Sure there is still the “we lost China crowd” especially in the US, but they are. I think, in a small minority. The problem I see, for what it’s worth, is that the CCP can only exist if one of two conditions hold.

    (a) It uses typical hard-ass authoritarian crack downs, with media crackdowns via the usual propaganda outlets. and/or
    (b) It provides continuing growth and better-living standards for its population.

    For the vast majority of people I think they have a positive view of the CCP because of (b). What happens, as it will, when the growth stops? Lots of not very happy people. Enter (a). What do you think?

  11. Cassowary says:

    Here’s my Chinese “Patriot” Talking Points Bingo Card.

    Centuries of oppression/and or poverty ✓
    CIA plot ✓
    Foreign interference ✓
    Fractious and decadent Western society ✓
    Strong Leadership ✓
    False equivalence ✓
    Brainwashed imperialist running dogs ✓
    Nationalistic bluster ✓
    Democracy causes corruption, which is why China doesn’t have any ✓
    [Something bad] that happened in a democracy, therefore democracies are bad ✓
    Self-contradictory logic ✓

    Do I get a prize?

  12. Knownot says:

    reductio – “Sorry to bore everyone.” Not boring at all.

    Qian Jin – “China’s advance during the past three decades from almost medieval conditions under war lords and foreign invaders would not have been possible without the national stability which strong and firm one party rule has afforded.” You’re trapped by your own argument. China’s suffering in the twenty-five years after 1949 from starvation, persecution, and mass murder would not have been possible without etc.

  13. Joe Blow says:

    Did you watch the video of the impromptu meeting-in-the-corridor between Joshua Wong and Carrie Lam ? (you can see it on SCMP.com with an English transcription).

    Joshua: 1
    Carrie: 0

  14. Joe Blow says:

    How did a grey, mousey, uncharismatic, plain Jane and not too smart person like Carrie Lam ever become the CS of Hong Kong ?

    This must be proof that democracy is superior to any kind of authoritarian, puppet-on-a-string system that people like Qian Jin favor.

    Talking about C. Lam and her family in the UK: since the HK Government has banned the delegation of UK parliamentarians from visiting Hong Kong, I think it is only fair that the UK Government bans Carrie Lam from setting foot in the UK.

  15. Tiu Fu Fong says:

    @Qian Jin – unnecessarily excessive use of punctuation (“……………”) is a sure sign of a pro-party mainlander dupe, just like the multiple exclamation points seen on banners and posters of patriotic exhortation.

  16. Doug r says:

    Qian Jin say what you like about Western societies and people dying at the hands of authority figures, but those armored vehicles in Ferguson Missouri didn’t kill any protesters .

  17. “”The evidence that Jesus existed is quite strong given he was a peasant preacher from the arse-end of the Roman empire.”””

    None whatsoever. The mythicist case has several strong pillars (1) the Gospels are total fictions drawn from the old testament and other literature (2) the early Christian literature, including Paul, never refers to a historical Jesus, even when such references are strongly called for, and (3) NT scholars and historical Jesus scholars possess no reliable methodologies for dragging a historical jesus out of the pile of data, as Crossan noted a decade ago. The old idea of criteria has finally collapsed…

    (2) above is especially convincing, once you give up the habit, without justification, of back-reading the gospels into Paul. Take 1 Cor 7, where Paul famously gives the better-to-marry-than-to-burn advice. If Paul had actually thought of Jesus as a real person, the logic of the argument says that Paul would either have used Jesus as an example of a married/unmarried person or else have had to explain away his marital state. But the marriage of Jesus simply never comes up (yet in other religions, such as Islam or Mormonism, the marital state of the leader is normative for the followers). Similarly when Paul tells his audience that the leaders are just and bear a sword for the wicked, he doesn’t have to explain why they whacked Jesus. These silences in the ancient literature, and they are numerous, are best developed by Earl Doherty. Search for his Jesus Puzzle website.

    Michael Turton

  18. Chinese Netizen says:

    Poor pathetic Qian Jin…grasping at straws.

  19. Kilgore Trout says:

    Why are pro-CCP types like Qian Jin so obsessed with the USA? There are other democracies out there, most of them far more functional than the US. Last I checked nobody has suggested that Hong Kong or China emulate America’s broken institutions.

    Anyway, maybe Mr Qian should leave the comfort of his chauffeured car once in awhile and see for himself how well China’s people are doing outside the prosperous cities of the East. Northeast, northwest… it’s not a pretty picture.

  20. Qian Jin says:

    @Knownot

    “Qian Jin – You’re trapped by your own argument. China’s suffering in the twenty-five years after 1949 from starvation, persecution, and mass murder would not have been possible without etc.”

    A fully reasoned response to this would take a whole chapter of a book. None of Big Lychee’s readers would want or have the patience for this.

    The shortest answer I can give is “I am not tapped at all in my own argument”.

    The immediate 3 decades after 1949 “Liberation” was full of complexities, not least of which was China’s dealing with the US-led NATO proxy Korean and Indo-China (Vietnam & Cambodian) wars. It took all of twenty five years to see off the American’s anti-communist incursions into Asia. ( and another thirty years for America to admit that they had lost) . China also had to simultaneously deal with its own massive internal problems left after decades of turmoil ( previously alluded to in my first post) .

    There was no civil service or government to “take over” in 1949. Every institution and government department had to be created anew and by a political party who were compelled to transform suddenly from a revolutionary party fighting a civil war to one which was in real power.

    This takes some doing and there were some very rocky starts. You mention the words “persecution, starvation (famines) and murder. Yes but 1. “persecution” was initially a very necessary part of a process of weeding out the old corrupt nationalist and landlord/ landowner system (not all fled to Taiwan) . 2 “starvation” , also yes but mass famines in China were nothing new throughout the ages and yes, the new government made some serious mistakes on the steep learning curve in getting food production right. 3, finally “murder” also yes but not deliberately by the party or by the state. There were factions within in the party and when local conditions started to go wrong the factions ( still instilled with a revolutionary mindset) would split and their followers become ugly and violent. The mass killings of the Red Guard era were never deliberate policy. The party just lost control when Mao’s own mind was already ‘shot’. With no anointed new leader. the internal struggle for a successor began in earnest. These days have long since gone. The party has policies in place for retirement of officials and orderly handovers from one generation of leaders to the next. The West has much to learn about China…………… if only they would READ instead of listening to the usual uniformed and brainwashed China bashers

  21. Cassowary says:

    Carrie Lam was much better as Development Secretary. After the Star Ferry demolition fiasco, she got a few things done on the heritage conservation front. She also had some sense about urban planning, such as maybe the waterfront should be used for recreation instead of a noxious wasteland of highways and pumping facilities, and maybe we should leave some spaces between buildings so that the air can circulate. Small achievements perhaps, but we’re talking about the Donald Duck administration, which, if you remember, thought that air pollution was a gweilo issue and couldn’t be that bad anyway because people weren’t dropping dead in the streets. She was a lot better than Paul “Pave the Country Parks” Chan, anyway.

    She’s completely wasted as Chief Secretary. I almost, but not quite, feel bad for her for being handed this bag of shite. Anyone would have to be insane to want that job.

  22. Chinese Netizen says:

    “Qian Jin” is Pierce Lam in disguise

  23. reductio says:

    @Michael Turton

    Thanks for the reply. Well, I’ll be upfront and that I think you are too bold when you say “none whatsever”. It is a case of balancing conflicting evidence, as is the case in history, especially ancient history. The mythicist case is strongest, I feel, with the lack of references to Jesus the man in Paul’s undisputed letters. There are many places where a “Jesus moment” would boost his case. I think there are adequate responses to this lack. You clearly don’t. Fair enough, we should call ’em as we see ’em. As for the lack of historical value of the four gospels, again, I see some value, you don’t. However, it might be worth mentioning that John Crossan certainly doesn’t deny that Jesus existed, his beef is that it’s impossible to make out what Jesus actually did or said in any detail. I’ll check out Earl Doherty again. I tried Richard Carrier but he gets too abusive at times for my taste. Pity, because I liked his book “Sense and goodness w/o God”. Cheers.

  24. Hermes says:

    Amusing post from Qian Jin/ Pierce Lam. I’m wondering who these ‘uniformed’ China bashers are, lol. BTW I recommend Mao’s Great Famine by Frank Dikotter, sourced from CCP archives. It explains pretty much points 1, 2 and 3.

  25. MonkeyFish Reborn says:

    @ Qian Jin

    You have roused me from my slumber to lay down some Chinese history. I am no fan of the USA and I personally believe most Western representative democracies have been subverted and co-opted to corporate and oligarchic interests for some time, and become less liberal in many way in the last 3 decades. Nonetheless this is no justification for the monopoly on power the CCP exercises in China, nor the horrors and violence which has been perpetrated in the name of the modern Chinese state upon her own people.

    Regardless of the whether a mechanism for citizens to hold state officials to account exists (i.e. some form of periodic election), the CCP (at state level and even more so at local level) consistently and grievously ignores (and has ignored) the rights of its own citizens as enshrined in its constitution (inherited from the KMT, and ironically, first drafted and promulgated by the Qing in the late 19th century as a too-little too-late reform effort of the imperial legal system). A government which contravenes its own law – regularly and with prejudice towards the governed – is unworthy of the honour and privilege of serving citizens of a country such as China, one of the few civilizations on earth that has survived (primarily by culutural integration of its invaders) since the beginning of existing historical records.

    Your apparently blind allegiance of your own country, culuture and (best case

  26. MonkeyFish Reborn says:

    Your apparently blind allegiance to the CCP as the “heavenly ordained” rulers of modern China, is a disservice to your own country, Chinese culture and yourself as a fellow Chinese person.

    What they teach in school in China is called propaganda (and must be approved by the head of the CCP propaganda department prior to publication). Examine the historical source evidence and many of your claims fail to hold water. Dikotter and Spence are very good places to start. I especially recommend you study non-party historical documents in regard to the the late Qing and also the pre-1937 period of nationalist rule.

    @ Hermes

    Thanks for recommendation. Dikotter also has a great book on the 1911 to 1937 period about the social transformations and liberalization that occurred in China, partly as a result of rather weak KMT efforts, but mainly as a result of the open borders and integration with outside world.

  27. Chinese Netizen says:

    There’s another book out called “All the best Chinese left the mainland in ’49”. So actually the “cream of the crop” in CCP China now are the factory rejects/seconds.

  28. Hermes says:

    @MonkeyFish.

    Thanks, I’ll look out for that.

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