The last few days before whatever comes next

So few people turned out for yesterday’s march against Hong Kong’s proposed fake-democracy political reforms that the police found it hard to underestimate the crowd size. It was hot. And marching is a tired and overused tactic (the next one is a whole two weeks away). But more than anything else, the proposed reform package is already dead, before it gets to the Legislative Council on Wednesday.

Supporters of the reform manage two last gasps.

A group of (largely) faded, old-style bureaucrat-business figures sign up to a full-page ad in the papers pleading Let’s Move Forward…


Looking through all these names, you get a ‘more in sorrow than in anger’ feeling. These are 1990s colonial-era paternalist-elite types – wary of Stan-LetsMoveForward2democracy, but even more fearful of Chief Executive CY Leung and of what could happen next. (Meanwhile, numerous polls of professional groups and academics in recent days have called for lawmakers to reject the package.)

And Chief Secretary Carrie Lam writes a lengthy suicide note on behalf of the package, for publication in all newspapers. She reminds readers that the proposal has ‘three liberal and democratic features’. (Essentially, candidates seeking nomination would need no more than 120 endorsements from the nomination committee, members of which could recommend multiple nominees, and whose vote to decide the final two or three candidates would be secret.) These features allowed for a potential scenario under which the Beijing-controlled nomination committee could face the awkward choice of barring a highly popular outsider from the ballot. It is likely that Carrie and her colleagues sweated blood to extract this as a concession from Beijing control-freaks. It was downplayed in the official pro-reform publicity campaign. Perhaps this is why she is claiming her conscience is clean.

A before-and-after poll showed that the audience turned against the package after watching a TV debate between pro-dem and pro-Beijing politicians. This may partly reflect the personalities involved. Among the pro-dems, Emily Lau gets over-excited, and Alan Leong is possibly a bit underwhelming. But they were ranged against the likes of James Tien, a classic dimwit rich-kid, and Priscilla ‘Rat Queen’ Leung, who comes across as venomous and opportunistic. If you were choosing representatives of the two camps in order to subliminally emphasize the pro-dems’ relative decency and intelligence, and the anti-dems distastefulness, you could well have picked this lot. But the TV audience poll probably also reflects the pro-dems’ success in convincing majority public opinion that rejecting the ‘fake-democracy’ is preferable to accepting it.

So the big question will soon be: what next? One answer everyone will give is ‘a major backlash’, but several backlashes seem likely. The pro-Beijing loyalists will try to demonize the pan-dems for ‘holding up’ democracy – a tricky accusation for Communist sympathizers to pull off. The pro-dems will hope for a backlash against the pro-Beijing camp, notably in the 2016 legislative elections. Backlashes that cancel each other out seem a distinct possibility. As does some internecine backstabbing, not least between the pro-CY and anti-CY factions in the pro-establishment camp.

Beneath all the recriminations, this should look like a victory for the pan-dems and for the Hong Kong people. The pro-dems’ PR plan (fat chance) would ditch the usual self-pitying moroseness and martyrdom and throw a massive, joyful celebration party in Admiralty and elsewhere after the package is kicked out.

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17 Responses to The last few days before whatever comes next

  1. PCC says:

    Excellent suggestion in the concluding sentence, almost certainly to be disregarded by The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight And Never Really Tried.

  2. Joe Blow says:

    Yes, it was hot. And long-marching from the park to Admiralty is really a waste of time and energy. Next time: meet in Tamar and have a street fiesta. Maybe Carlsberg will sponsor.

    That Arculli list looks like a steaming Tatler magazine dump.

  3. Big Al says:

    I thought Arculli died years ago …

  4. Dame Diane Butler says:

    “….because we stand united.”

    I wonder how the rent-seeking, inherited-wealth parasites like “Sir” David Tang, Thomas Jefferson Wu or Vincent Lo ever stood ‘united’ with the working people of Hong Kong whose hard-earned dollars they cream off on a daily basis.

  5. PD says:

    You don’t need to watch a debate to know who is a dem and who is a nasty piece of work: the dems look human, likeable, humane, whereas the anti-dems look like what the cat brought in.

    I can’t see anything special happening if the fascist package but-with-one-or-two-liberal-elements is indeed rejected: just perhaps an ineffable increase in the rate of decline of a unique land that had everything going for it.

    Of course if Carrie had any sort of conscience, she would realise that she was violating the basic law, and so resign.

  6. Not surprised..... says:

    Says it all really about the rah rah mob who are happy to give away hong kong to the great unwashed from the PRC….

    James Ogilvy-Stuart: “This is my second DB9. It was built from scratch for me and even has an engraved nameplate inside the door that says “Handbuilt for JOS”. The waiting list for one of these is currently about nine months.”

    See the great and the good here……..WANKERS

  7. Cassowary says:

    The hell? I’ve been saying that Beijing probably likes having the localists around as convenient political boogeymen to scare the mainstream public with, and right on cue they supply a bomb threat. Right after viciously harrassing an orphan in full view of the media. It’s too convenient. Either the localists are too stupid for words, or they’re triad plants.

  8. Having urged the pan-dems to “reflect public opinion” by voting for the reform package, I wonder if the government is wetting its knickers now that public opinion has turned against it. By rights they should now be urging the DAB to veto the bill on the same grounds. Hoist on their own petard, methinks.

  9. PCC says:

    Yes, “more in sorrow than in anger” strikes the right note.

    I’m well acquainted with about eight of the people on the list, and I’m somewhat acquainted with another dozen or so.

    First point: Nearly everyone on the list, expat and local alike, is a middle-class striver who has made it inside the tent and wants to stay there for some reason. Material self-interest may have something to do with it but there is some kind of deeper psychological or social need at work as well. I’ll ask my therapist.

    Second point: In my hundreds of encounters over the years with the people on this list, I can’t recall a single substantive conversation on local politics. I think that’s because none of them gives a shit one way or the other.

  10. Stephen says:

    This lot (Nellie, Harbourfest Jim, Vinny Lo, Big Ron etc) seem currently emboldened to impart their great wisdom on the unwashed again. Whereas they refreshingly shut the feck up during occupy. Carrie, that great shining beacon during Donald’s corrupted reign, the answer was in reconstituting the nominating committee you utter amateur.

  11. Incredulous says:

    David Tang? That’s a bit of a surprise – I thought he was quite a decent bloke.

  12. dopey says:

    Two great names:
    1) Victor S. APPS
    2) H.K. Cheng

  13. Pastor Flaps says:

    Arculli signed, as did his plump peroxide wife. But why didn’t Thompson’s wife sign as well ?

    And where is Dr Semen ? He seldom misses a chance to suck up.

  14. Reader says:

    Is it just me, or does the toadies’ headline really say:
    … OVER … OVER … OVER …
    And if so, is it about the prospects of passing this charade, or a comment on their own credibility?

  15. Chinese Netizen says:

    Yes…very highly unusual that Semen wasn’t on the hit parade of usual sycophants

  16. Gerald Simmonds says:

    Jim’s wife may have been, er, ‘incapacitated’……

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