When it comes to the dull gray, heavy metal lead, the Hong Kong government’s political opponents are – shall we say – in their element. The Democratic Party, which first exposed traces of the cumulative poison in water supplies, is demanding that the authorities test more and more public housing estates and, now, private-sector developments. The Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood is also joining in. And the Neo-Democrats, seeing how easy it is to get samples analyzed, are uncovering more cases.
Officials are scrambling to keep up. They would love to dismiss the whole thing as scaremongering. If they enjoyed more trust they would be able to reassure the community by calmly explaining the apparently low level of contamination in terms of international health standards. But there is an underlying public mood – going back to SARS and various tainted-food scandals – that dangers lurk everywhere, and a nagging suspicion that this administration would not be above colluding with Mainland interests to cover them up. The government cannot run the risk of appearing callous and so must be seen to respond promptly and gravely to the pro-democrats’ every complaint.
The ruling powers are in a difficult position. Beijing’s local officials require the loyalist DAB and FTU groups to back the Hong Kong government – so joining in the clamour about death in every drop of water is a no-no. On the other hand, these patriotic fronts are the Communist Party’s main electoral weapons against the evil, hostile, foreign-backed, pro-democracy camp. They need to appear at least partly independent of the unpopular and inept administration to keep their vote up in forthcoming District and (next year) Legislative Council polls.
Maybe the pro-Beijing forces will manage to finesse the Poisoned Water Horror. But this could be just the beginning of a new sort of struggle. The banishment of political reform as an issue could leave the mainstream pro-dems redundant, bleating endlessly to themselves about arcane electoral structures. But it could actually be liberating. There are so many bad and wrong things they can use to hurt the government with. The pro-dems won’t agree on every anti-establishment, progressive or trendy cause. They won’t – and shouldn’t try to – protest every over-greedy tycoon, every pepper-sprayed student, every migrant worker injustice, every elder denied timely medical care, every family in a subdivided flat or every endangered dolphin or country park enclave. They just need to pick one or two high-profile cases, big or small, that most residents will agree on, as they come along. Which they will. There will never be a shortage.
Here’s a mouth-watering one on a plate: the old free bicycle repairman being prosecuted for illegal hawking. Proof that the gods are pan-dems.
The old Hemlockian thesis, that all the dems’ efforts to improve the political system are doomed to failure, may easily be valid. But the lemma, that they should (instead?) concentrate on “livelihood” issues does not necessarily follow.
Many dems are middle-class, so not fully aware in practical terms of the economic issues besetting the rest of the community. Democrats, above all, may be left-wing, right-wing, anarchist or anywhere else on the political spectrum. In theory, they can also be more or less pro-China, more or less pro-the evil, satanic outside world. As a result, they probably have little in common — apart from the wish for a fair voting system.
The methods of the FEHD are getting increasingly vicious, in line with society at large (cf. Tuesday’s murder in a North District village about noise). As today’s NSCMP shows, their bullying is merely the tip of the iceberg.
Two weeks ago, an accelerating FEHD lorry hit my back and shoulders, nearly knocking me over, failed to stop immediately, but instead swerved to the right — where my leashed dog would have been if she had been on that side.
…where my leashed dog would have been if she had been on that side.
But she wasn’t because she was on the other side ?
But she wasn’t because she was at home ?
Isn’t bashing the government with its own obvious screw-ups what the pan-dems have been doing all along? From short-piling to Cyberport to MTR cost overruns to trees falling on people, exploiting the government’s incompetence is basically the pan-dems’ only pastime besides debating constitutional structures.
They do this _because_ they can’t take a coherent issue on any issue of substance without alienating some part of their voter base, which doesn’t agree on anything other than “we’d like free elections”, and “the government is stupid”. So now that free elections are off the table, all that’s left is “the government is stupid”. It’s good for some cheap schadenfreude, I suppose, but it won’t do anything for our sorry state of governance.
Spot on today Hemmers. Nothing more to add. Hope the PD’s are reading.
Remember Grandma Chow and her II grandson Siu Yao Sai, Priscilla does. According to stories in the Chinese press it finally turned out he hadn’t been in HK all that long, and had been in school in Dongguan. The penniless waffle Dai Pai Dong vendor Albert helped get a shop, but whom it turned out owned two flats?
Anyone thinking jumping in without looking to support the bike repairman is a win-win should think twice. The man himself wants this to all go away as quietly as possible, which hints that he fears someone may pop out with a different story. He may be all he claims, but then again… Lead in pipes, and lead in CY’s brain are the much safer angles.
PF, My leashed dog was on my left side.
The windows on FEHD lorries allow the driver to see pedestrians on all sides but not lower objects. That is, the lorry had a 50-50 chance of crushing her.
Er… which part are you ignorant about? Are you perhaps unfamiliar with the past conditional? With driving rules?
Steve Vines jumped head first into the bike repairman’s show. Oh well, he’s not a politician.
I’m not going to translate all the stuff in the Chinese press, but some parts are in this blog. https://therealnewshk.wordpress.com/2015/06/09/the-illegal-immigrant-xiao-youhuai/