Hong Kong is not in shock exactly, but it is raising a semi-curious eyebrow. For the first time in their government careers, Home Affairs Secretary Tsang Tak-shing and Civil Service Secretary Paul Tang have come to the public’s attention in a big way. And they have done it by resigning.
Were they pushed or did they jump? In some ways it is an academic question: to be defenestrated from the CY Leung administration must be merciful relief in itself. In their euphoria at having exited, the two men may not even know for sure, and certainly don’t care. Tsang’s bizarre statement reads like he was drugged and, being told at gunpoint to write a resignation letter, scribbled ‘Outta here!’ with a deranged laugh. (Tang, a lifelong bureaucrat, regales us with ‘time with family’ bilge.)
The official rumour is that they were fired for their poor performance over the Umbrella Revolution. Tsang failed to prevent the city’s youth from coming under the sway of the hostile foreign forces behind the Occupy movement, while Tang was negligent in keeping the civil service onside. (You may not have noticed the avid support among bureaucrats for the pro-democracy uprising, but you didn’t exactly see them opposing it did you? The Communist Party detects such things.)
When such a rumour appears so effortlessly everywhere in the press, we can take it with a pinch of salt. Perhaps Beijing’s locally based fixers are using the cabinet reshuffle as an opportunity to remind new and existing ministers that they are expected to run Hong Kong like the Mainland cadres control Tibet or Xinjiang.
Tang and his role as Civil Service boss is too boring to bother with. Tsang, on the other hand, is an intriguing person – a true devout believer in the Communist faith. He is one of few people in Hong Kong who (leaving aside any possible factional struggles) could talk as some sort of equal to comrades at the Liaison Office. If they told him to round up and brainwash every geeky pro-democracy schoolkid in town, and he said it was a dumb idea, they would probably accept it. He would also be honoured to be the subject of an official rumour that he had been fired for incompetence. Being kicked in the teeth by the Party is the ultimate pleasure for these people.
CY is replacing Tsang with Lau Kong-wah, one of the most pilloried and pitiful specimens you could hope for. (Typically, the pro-democrats go into a huff about how Lau might use his new position against them in November’s District Council elections. The correct response would be to cackle manically in glee.) This appointment would have required Beijing’s blessing. Indeed, it may be Beijing’s sick and cruel way to increase CY’s unpopularity in preparation for the time when they toss him aside. Seems superfluous, but the only other explanation is that in their paranoia they only feel safe entrusting the inconsequential Home Affairs portfolio to the most pathetic and easily stomped-on loser they can find.
Lau comes complete with his very own well-established, instantly recognizable meme, in which he peers out of a garbage bin. Observers of online-parody fads probably thought this jolly visual concept, with its many amusing variations and artistic/theatrical possibilities, had peaked during Occupy (when he sat dumbstruck during a debate with a group of the aforementioned schoolkids). Instead, to our delight, it has only just started.
A most interesting situation:
Now that brother Tsang is out, is Jasper still save ? He must be feeling uneasy.
689 is long rumored to be on the way out. Never mind the swag: he is uneasy too.
The tooth fairy from the Liaison Office -never mind his name- probably has accepted his fate by now: he is just waiting for the phone call / 5 AM knock on the door.
3 loyal-at-all-costs CCP lackeys, and they all fear for their jobs. Delicious.
There was a time when minister for the civil service was a crucial position, and one requiring considerable nous (within a restricted range of abilities). Alas, no more!
I must confess I’ve always had a weak spot for Tak-shing, his brother and Ip Kwok-him — quite apart from any behaviour or utterances, just based on appearances, on breaking the mould of the flabby, the greenish and the blinking apologies.
On the one hand, so obviously weedy and lower-sixth nerdish that the mind desperately looks round for some compensating aptitude to have taken them so far; on the other, a clear-sighted, clean-cut image that makes you think he must be decisive and a good leader.
Lau has been promoted precisely because he didn’t engage with the students during that debate. His sour face throughout was icing on the cake.
I think CY is toast and he’s been told. Mainly due to the 2016 Legco elections which Beijing has its eye on. Get loveable old mustachioed John in at the beginning of 2016, well marshalled by Carrie, so we get no royale fuck ups (HKD6K payouts, widely inaccurate financial forecasts, middle class French art films blather etc) and enjoy the warm fuzzy feel good factor of no CY. China will pay for the buses to get the incompetent and the infirm to the polling stations and will employ the tried and trusted method, from the last election, of stuffing 10 united front ringers into one address, multiplied by a hundred or so in marginal seats. Then watch Starry and the DAB romp home. Electoral reforms proposals dusted off and fire up the battle bus.
So here we have a perfect distillation of the HK Government principle that if you don’t do anything at all, you won’t make any mistakes. And if you don’t make any mistakes, you will be promoted. Slap a medal on him and call it a day.
Are these not THE UGLIEST male specimens in all of Asia?? Aside from CY hisself?
Why it happened
We don’t know
Two cats leaving
Go, men, go!
But don’t you
Ask the reason why
Don’t ask CY
He will not tell you why.
You can do your shopping
Drink your lead
Thump a student
On the head
Do anything you wanna do
But o-o-honey lay off the news
And don’t you
Sing those Hongkong blues
You can do anything
But don’t sing no Hongkong blues.
Lyrics by Carl Perkins and Another
“If the suitable opportunity comes along in the future, I am prepared to serve the community in another capacity.” Gee, that’s a relief.
Mr. Tang’s willingness to sacrifice himself yet again for the greater good of the community is heartwarming. I’m sure it has nothing to do with the money. What a guy!
I’ll have a Royale with cheese ? Combien ?
that’s the “triad and trusted method”, shurely? 😉
@PCC – I suspect Tang’s declaration of willingness to serve in another capacity is a coded signal that he didn’t choose to stop doing so in his recent capacity, family circumstances notwithstanding.