Yes – it’s WhatsApp-Gate!


Just when you thought Hong Kong’s pro-establishment legislators couldn’t make themselves look any more servile and squalid, along comes WhatsApp-Gate. Leaked June 18 instant messages among the pro-Beijing politicians reveal nothing earth-shattering, but contain enough to further diminish their pitiful image following the Great Legco Walkout Fiasco a week ago.

The most damning material is the participation in group messages by Legco president Tsang Yok-sing. As a leading member of the DAB – a local Communist Party front – he ODN-whatsappwould be expected to take part in discussing the pro-Beijing lawmakers’ tactics. But as the supposedly neutral speaker of the assembly, he certainly crossed a line ethically by passing on ideas about the opposition’s plans. And yet… The main damage done is to his own carefully crafted reputation for moderation and fair play. And his input was entirely unhelpful to his own side in practice.

The messages (especially after the idiots realize they have missed the voting) give the impression of a bunch of naughty children trying to work out what it is they’ve done, and how and whether to apologize. It now seems that the original excuse for the walkout – they were waiting for New Territories warlord Lau Wong-fat to arrive – was untrue. (The fact that most observers accepted the explanation as so-desperate-it’s-credible reflects how low the pro-Beijing rabble rank in public esteem.) Naughty children would have worked through this with more panache.

If the WhatsApp revelations show Legco’s pro-Beijing members as hapless crawlers, the broader United Front reaction reminds us what a divided and artificial alliance it really is. We are assured that there is no support for a witch hunt to find out who did the leaking, which means vicious eye-scratching is going on behind the scenes. And Beijing’s local Liaison Office is pretending all is well and even being nice to people, suggesting there is Major Hell to Pay. And snotty local National People’s Congress deputies’ WhatsApp messages are also being leaked, perhaps by themselves, in an effort to seem relevant – I mean, do we really care what Fanny Law thinks right now?

What’s really going on?

Hong Kong is a sideshow to national-level factional struggles and concentration of power. A decision from on high to crush much of the local Liaison Office, DAB and local shoe-shiners as part of Xi Jinping’s latest clean-up could look like this. It is easy to see why members of Beijing’s coalition of devout Communist-worshipers, cynical shoe-shiners and pathetic opportunists might see some major malevolence at work here. Events have conspired to make them appear as a grouping so wretched and grubby and infantile that it is almost unfair.

I declare the weekend open with the thought that, instead, perhaps we are seeing the limits of the Leninist grip on this pluralist environment. This episode displayed, among other things, Hong Kong’s press remaining free and raucous, and an almost charming lack of paranoia or security-worries among pro-establishment Internet users.

Beijing’s political reform process in Hong Kong has been one long series of screw-ups that backfired. So it (for now, perhaps) ends. China long ago identified and named its friends and favourites in Hong Kong, and the city can see, more than ever, that this sorry parade of specimens are clowns. So distasteful do they seem that, by contrast, the pro-democrats – from Emily Lau to Long Hair to nativist students – can’t help but be left with a collective image of integrity, maturity and purpose.

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24 Responses to Yes – it’s WhatsApp-Gate!

  1. PCC says:

    Yes, only the pro-CCP maroons could manage to make the hapless pan-dems look good.

  2. Cassowary says:

    The Liaison Office’s extravagant display of forgiveness is insulting. “They may be idiots,” they seem to be saying, “but they’re our idiots, and you’re stuck with them. Sucks to be you!”

    Assuming that it’s true that Xi’s guys want to clean house, who are they going to replace the pro-Beijing camp with? They could swap out the guys in the Liaison Office with Xi loyalists (1), but where are they going to find that many new local allies (a.k.a sock puppets) in a hurry?

    They’ve spent the last 30 years painting themselves into a corner. Since the only people they’ve been willing to deal with have been shoeshiners, opportunists and actual diehard communists, their talent pool (if you can call it that) is almost by definition distasteful to the general public. Anybody with a whiff of pan-democracy about them have been defined as enemies. The number of plausible “third way” people can be counted on one hand with fingers left over. Let’s see, there’s Ronny, Anthony Cheung, maybe Christine, and…

    Yeah, good luck with that.

    (1) Why does everybody seem to assume that when Xi cleans house, things are going to go better for us? Do you see anything in Xi’s record that suggests that he is a fan of moderation and compromise? In the information vacuum that exists in yes-man bureaucracies, the people at the top have no way to tell whether something went wrong because they did the wrong thing, or because they didn’t do it hard enough. They’re just as likely to reach the latter conclusion as the former.

  3. Reader says:

    Comments and blogs on today’s developments offer every possible interpretation, explanation and prognostication, which starkly highlights the emerging normality in which none of us has a clue what is going on ‘behind the scenes’ of our own town.

    While humour can leaven the sadness, the inescapable truth is that these clowns and buffoons, holding various powers that we never could, care less and less what we think of them.

    While little of this is qualitatively new (Watching the sun set, little by little ..), the old framework — Rule of Law, Asia’s finest, echoes of parliamentary democracy, which has so long been the touchstone, even when things got murky, is looking increasingly quaintly irrelevant.

    Very soon, the only game in town will be Beijing power plays and their ramifications for the local stooges. The dems will settle into their constitutional role as noisy protesters; the tycoons, players and bureaucrats will stop bothering with the charade of addressing the public, and our slide into the pit will be unstoppable.

  4. Pastor Flaps says:

    I see no involvement at all of 689 in this fiasco. Like he is out of the loop. In Corporation Land, when a person is kept out of the loop it usually means he is earmarked for an early exit.

    Couple this to the fact that 689 had planned a dinner for the Whatsappers last nite but had it cancelled after the Liaison Office summoned the retards instead.

  5. LRE says:

    “Although the reform plans have failed to proceed, I believe most supporters of the bill are pragmatic and sensible people, who will stay calm rather than freak out in the face of setbacks.”Eddy Li, President of the Chinese Manufacturer’s Association of Hong Kong in yesterday’s China Daily (HK edition) Let’s Forget reform row and get on with our lives.

    Guess again, Eddy. Guess again. It’s just the gift that keeps on giving.

  6. Probably says:

    @Cassowary,. Please do not fool yourself that Xi’s cleanup is anything to do with corruption – merely an easy excuse to get rid of your political enemies. The whole political system for promotion within the CCP relies upon sponsors and incentives and as such the charges can be laid against 99.9% of the whole damn lot of them. Xi is just choosing who to set-up for a fall with an easy excuse.

  7. Qian Jin says:

    @”Beijing’s political reform process in Hong Kong has been one long series of screw-ups that backfired. So it (for now, perhaps) ends. ”

    I certainly hope so. We were originally promised “no change for fifty years” in the joint declaration. But then along comes until Paton and his stupid democrats pushing for changes.

  8. cccrrrgh says:

    Sublime writing today, old chap

  9. reductio says:

    @Qian Jin

    Can’t agree with you concerning Patton. The general idea was, I believe, to have Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong people. Now we have Not Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong people via don’t-give-a-crap-about-Hong Kong-people people.

  10. Stephen says:

    What was the purpose of these Machiavellian shenanigans ! The mathematics ability of an average 8 year old was able to work out that this bill was dead in the water. Period. In a more politically seasoned place the supporters would be working the phones offering quid-pro-quo trying to convince the doubters. Here the CCP had nothing to offer. Had someone in Hong Kong Government really advised them that they had the votes ? That person is now toast.

    Oh and Qian Jin F**k off !

  11. @Qian Jin – the idea of “no change for fifty years” was not that nothing at all would ever change here – that would obviously be absurd in a fast-changing world. It was that the rights and freedoms cherished by most Hong Kong people would be guaranteed for that period. Less than 20 years on, they are now rapidly being eroded. That erosion is being facilitated by the absence of democracy, since our supposed leaders feel less accountable to the Hong Kong people than to their Beijing puppet-masters. What part of that don’t you get?

  12. Monkey Uncensored says:

    Excellent post Hemmers.

    Whilst a part of me is indeed enjoying the humiliation and face-loss of the Stepford Wives, I am at the same time glad that there is a dearth of slick and ruthless political operators in their camp.

    If that situation changes its bad news for HKG.

  13. Scotty Dotty says:

    Spell check Nazi: it’s Patten, chaps.

    And the legislative intent of “no change for fifty years” was obvious. ie, not to change decent governance, human rights, rule of law into a third world shithole with Chinese characteristics.

  14. Cassowary says:

    @ Probably; it’s obvious that Xi is using his corruption campaign to remove his enemies, but assuming the Liaison Office has gotten on his bad side, I’m not optimistic that one newly stacked with Xi loyalists would be an improvement from our point of view.

    It’s possible that trusted loyalists will be given a bit more room to manoeuvre and won’t be as desperate to impress the boss with useless dick-swinging, but on the other hand, knowing that their current strategy is a failure isn’t the same thing as knowing how to fix it. For all we know, they’ll conclude that Hong Kong’s problem is that we’ve been given too much freedom.

    Plus, well, they haven’t got much to work with. The United Front may be brainless and moribund, but it’s all they’ve got.

  15. PD says:

    Chaps, I wouldn’t worry too much about Qian Jin’s illiterate rantings. There’s a distinct chance that it’s a disillusioned fellow blogger whose identity will be clear to many.

    Why is everyone assuming that WhatsApp conversations have been leaked? Isn’t it possible that hacking is involved?

  16. Joe Blow says:

    Message from the Liaison Office today: “please stop leaking Whatsapp messages”. This is not the premise to a joke: it’s what they really said. Hilarious.

    I am soooooooooooo curious: who is the whistle-blower ? Assuming it is not a hack-job, as PD implied.

  17. dopey says:

    I think it’s probable that James Tien is behind the leak. After all he was born in the year of the pig. Classic case of misdirection.

  18. LRE says:

    @Scotty Dotty: Aww! You dreadful old spell check Nazi, I was rather enjoying Qian Jin’s alternative fantasy football league history of Hong Kong where the last colonial governor was firebrand Four-star US General George S Patton. Would’ve been a lot more interesting …

  19. Joe Blow says:

    It has taken a while but finally Hong Kong has got its own ‘Deep Throat’.

    Who could it be ?

    Letitia Lee…
    Pamela Pak (via ‘husband’ Paul Tse)….
    Veronica Yip ….

  20. Nimby says:

    It will be fun watching in the next few days the “Democrats” defend Jasper The Clasper from the lap dogs of the various factions of the United Front who will all be leaping and snapping to take his place. At least if Dems are smart (slim hope) they will because they will have no say in who is The Clasper’s replacement.

    The Democrats will remember the Luvly Rita (The $2 per hour frigid) Meter Maid, who last held that seat before moving on to her well earned bribe sinecure as sock puppet/leaky condom/NPC member. The real downside, possibly intended, of all of this is The Clasper will no longer feel he has to hide his bias, to pretend to be fair, to be seen as a neutral party; Instead he may start to roll Albany Style. Ca-ching!

  21. The leaker is most likely to be one of the business sector members – they put up a facade of loyalty to the regime to protect their China businesses and the influence they exert through the Functional Constituencies, but there must be moments when they look at their pathetic United Front comrades and think “sod the lot of them!”

  22. Chinese Netizen says:

    The only thing I can think of as being “worse than a pig” is a kow-towing, lackey stooge who sells out one’s people, personal honor and integrity in order to supplicate for favourable treatment by a bunch of disgusting, pig-like dictators.

  23. Headache says:

    I’m surprised the Liaison Office didn’t say “please use WeChat instead [we’ve got that one under control]”.

    @Chinese Netizen, well said.

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