The decline of CY’s little alternative establishment

Stan-CheungBankThe Standard puts the bankruptcy of Barry Cheung on the front page. Most other papers do not, because – well, it’s a slightly gloomy human-interest story and little else.

As well as occupying various public-service positions like Chairman of the Urban Renewal Authority, Cheung set up the Hong Kong Mercantile Exchange in 2008. The idea was that Hong Kong would become a mega whizz-bang hub-zone epicenter for commodities futures trading. The sort of people who raved about the city being a mega whizz-bang hub for bonds, Islamic banking and other desperate-sounding concepts jumped up and down in excitement. Maybe they overestimated demand for such a platform. Maybe they were counting on Beijing to support the project and send business its way. Maybe it was hubris. Anyway, after failing to attract serious trading and hosting some sort of alleged financial irregularities hoo-hah, it failed.

Barry Cheung was also a key backer of CY Leung. It is worth remembering that back in 2011, when it was obvious that Beijing would be making rich-kid politician Henry Tang Chief Executive, openly backing CY was a daring and risky thing to do. To Hong Kong’s establishment, CY was a mystery. About the only thing anyone knew about him was that he didn’t have any friends.

Another early supporter of CY was National People’s Congress Deputy and former top FannyFranklinLewbureaucrat Fanny Law. Like Barry, she was subsequently appointed to CY’s Executive Council – and there she remains, focused on saying all the right anti-dem things and keeping out of trouble. Other members of CY’s little ‘alternative establishment’ were not so fortunate. Former financial analyst and land/population policy freak Franklin Lam joined and later left the Executive Council after a conflict-of-interest thing that was basically trivial but embarrassing to the administration at a time of incessant mini-scandals among government officials. More humiliating was pro-Beijing businessman Lew Mon-hong, who attended an early CY campaign function with an alleged triad member; he was later arrested by anti-graft cops and is now an angry critic of CY (and currently on trial).

These were CY’s main ‘friends’. A handful of other people had endorsed him, but with restraint. When Beijing abandoned Henry Tang at the last minute in 2012 and ordered its inbuilt majority on the Election Committee to ‘elect’ CY, most traditional pro-establishment tycoon-types were too numb with shock to say anything. Only a few had the wits to indulge in quick, shameless, pre-emptive shoe-shining in an attempt to grovel their way into the outsider-administration’s good books – the best example being property tycoon Henry Cheng. But these were Johnny-come-latelys.

Now mostly fallen by the wayside, CY’s original support group was small and patchy from the start. Barry Cheung and Franklin Lam probably saw the outsider-underdog as a breath of fresh air or even a sign of hope that Hong Kong could move beyond semi-feudal dominance by landed interests. For Fanny Law, it may have been more opportunistic – a nothing-to-lose roll of the dice on the off-chance it could lead to a (the?) top job in time. For ‘Dream Bear’ Lew, it seems the attraction was a bauble in the form of an Executive Council seat that he never got, and maybe some behind-the-scenes string-pulling capacity, which hasn’t worked out either.

CY Leung has no further need of a local power base. His authority comes from the top down, from the Liaison Office and the Xi Jinping regime. From the barrel of a gun. The traditional bureaucrat-tycoon establishment that flourished under Chief Executive Donald Tsang ‘supports’ CY only under orders from Beijing. To the Standard‘s tycoon owner, highlighting Barry Cheung’s bankruptcy is an irresistible and vengeful swipe.

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8 Responses to The decline of CY’s little alternative establishment

  1. PCC says:

    I see two Harvard men made the front page today: Barry Cheung (bankrupt and possibly headed to jail) and Jay Walder (fired and laughing all the way to the bank).

    Boolah! Boolah!

    “You can always tell a Harvard man, but you can’t tell him much.”

  2. Stephen says:

    Wasn’t “Real Tax Payer” also a good mate of CY Leung ?

    We will always have that URA monstrosity in Hanoi Road to remember Baz.

  3. Cassowary says:

    The question is, did Beijing plan to pull the plug on Henry from the start, or was it a last minute decision? Who leaked illegal basement to the media, and would Beijing have stuck by him had he not won the World Footwear Eating Championship by trying to blame his wife? If Beijing had been planning to inflict CY Leung on us all along, why the elaborate bait-and-switch?

  4. Real Tax Payer says:

    @ Stephen: Indeed I was and still a CY supporter – so to speak.
    Well, at least I’m not anti – CY .

    But calling me a good mate of CY is going a somewhat too far ( sort of “My father knew Lloyd George but Lloyd George did not know my father”)

    But it was only by default because the alternative, the Right Awful Henry Tang , was just SO awful (and still is ) than no-one could be worse than him as CE : ergo anyone must be better .

    It was actually Hemlock’s wonderful Time Out magazine article on “Henry Tang – our next CE ? ” with Warhol-colored pics of the great wine-bibber and wife-ratter (not to mention basement-excavator) that did it for me.

    After reading that article and having seen how low Donald had sunk I couldn’t imagine anything worse than Tang shoe-ing himself into Donald’s greasy Macau creepers.

    In truth, CY has not made a great success of his time so far, and for every friend he makes, he makes twice as many enemies. However, to be fair, he has tried as best he can to push through those of his election pledges that the filibusters allowed.

    Moving on to 2017 : I only hope that the new CE election package is finally not vetoed by the PPDs (pathetic pan-dems) so that we do actually have some sort of a choice. And so , assuming CY is on the BJ- approved short-list list of candidates, we can actually see how popular (or otherwise) he really is with the public at large he is based on one-man-one-vote.

  5. NIMBY says:

    As a friend pointed out in an email today, CY has lossa friends in the concrete, harbor reclamation, & construction biz. The triads Kuk loves the man for every new village house in a country park, as well as every crappy NT village concrete project — from shot-crete slopes to unusable sitting out areas to GMB shelters (that are more concrete than shelter).

    We have all the vote buying of democracy, just spread over 689 constituents.

    Parking lots for a Bridge to nowhere
    Kowloon West 23 Billion dollar parking lot
    3rd runway for airspace we don’t control nor do the airlines want
    Expanded roadway, parking lot to beach that many oppose (and located in soon to be flood plain with sea rise)

    Maria Tam is also now all a flush with hot love for CY as he surely will give her the taxi rate increase she wants. Lets see if that puts you readers off your dinner.

  6. Mjrelje says:

    NIMBY – I feel sick from your list (and dinner in Mumbai). Do the BL readers have a strategy for voting? Are we all registered?? I am pleased I will be voting in HK and UK although I may not bother in HK unless ‘none of the above’ is an option. For UK anyone but Milliband/Sturgeon, or Cameron or Farage. Clegg may as well return his deposit now if he can’t claim it on expenses. I hope HK’s ballot will end up with a baboon faced CY, Rubber head Lexus, and horse faced HT for HK to choose between. The whole world may just about die laughing in the ‘beauty parade’ as they all say the same BS from Peking.

  7. NIMBY says:

    Mijrelje, if you still can’t quite purge the stomach, lets add another one to the list of concrete proposals from CY. We’re going to get another White Elephant Stadium, at the olde Kaitak-landia site.

  8. I don’t think RTP has quite grasped the subtlety of Beijing’s plan for Hong Kong. As a New York Times writer pointed out, what we are being allowed is effectively a choice between three CY Leungs. Far from “some sort of choice”, this is really no choice at all. However the anointed victor will then claim a spurious popular mandate which will enable him (or possibly her) to ignore true public opinion even more than at present.

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