Gruesome field for 2017 race

The Standard ponders the 2017 race to be Hong Kong Chief Executive. ‘Quasi-race’ would be a better phrase; Beijing will first decide the lucky winner, and a rigged Election Committee will then dutifully vote him/her in.

This means hopefuls must jockey for Beijing’s favour. And that means they must jockey for the favour of groups whose opinion (or at least usefulness as co-opted tools) Beijing values. A grossly oversimplified guesstimate of the division of influence among these ‘various sectors’ might be: one third to property tycoons; one third to a ragtag of political loyalists and commercial interests; one third to the general populace.

Beijing’s favour for property tycoons’ interests is plain to see in Hong Kong’s land policy, Stan-StartMullhousing affordability, cartelized domestic economy, and artificially boosted tourism sector. Beijing’s deference to the masses – however reluctant and resentful – was clear in the failure to implement Article 23 national security laws, the downfall of CE Tung Chee-hwa, and the failure to get patriotic ‘national education’ into schools. The recent Occupy/Umbrella movement and legislative defeat of proposed electoral reform represent another exercise of popular power over Beijing’s will.

So anyone aspiring to be CE in 2017 has to win some sort of support from a critical number of – mostly unrepresentative – social and commercial groupings and interests.

The choice of CY Leung in 2012 showed that Beijing would override the preferences of the property tycoons. The post-2012 influence of China’s local Liaison Office suggests that Beijing fears the power of popular opinion in Hong Kong politics and seeks to crush it. That suggests that, if this is a zero-sum game, the ‘ragtag’ middle group mentioned above has more than a one-third share of clout. But this is not a cohesive group. Beijing buys the loyalty of grasping and shadowy rural interests with economic benefits and licence to engage in ‘traditional’ law-breaking. The Communist Party also commands patriotic political, labour and social groups, which are totally obedient, but whose top leaders will have some bottom-up advisory input along ‘people’s democracy’ lines.

In short, the hopefuls have everything to play for. The bad news is that Beijing’s paranoid criteria limit admission to their ranks to the inadequate, the depressing, the scary and the inept. Vision and imagination – and plain ability – are too suspect.

The Standard starts with CY…

Incumbent Leung Chun-ying looks set to run for a second term. In view of his ever-plunging popularity, he may put forward populist policy initiatives to please the public.

Or he might grovel for property interests’ approval by going back on previous promises and trying to boost the flood of mainland tourists/shoppers into Hong Kong, and denouncing Hongkongers who want their city back as hurting the visitors’ feelings. And he might send the cops to arrest Uber staff in order to protect taxi-licence holders and force the rest of the population to use unreliable and disliked regular cabs. In other words, displease the public.

The Standard turns to…

…another Leung – former financial secretary Antony Leung Kam-chung – said he will leave the decision to God. That’s an interesting statement for he had earlier told the media he didn’t have any immediate plans to be CE.

In a recent interview, he was philosophical, saying that as a Christian, he must obey God if the Almighty wants him to run.

Perhaps he’s already receiving divine inspiration from the heavens, and is thus raising his media profile steadily. Will he get the deity’s final call?

Funny how God pushes so many people into politics around the world these days. There was a time when He guided the rich, in particular, away from power and wealth and into helping the poor, and even – as with Francis of Assisi – befriending little furry animals and birds. As Antony says, it’s all up to God. Maybe the Almighty will ask the former Financial Secretary to help lepers or some other old standby. If He does tell him to run, Antony will presumably get into office (why else would an omnipotent deity give the go-ahead, unless for a cruel laugh?) and be blessed with the inspiration and grace that, He surely knows, is Hong Kong’s only hope.

Next…

Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah is the other potential candidate that no political punter should miss after the firm handshake he received from President Xi Jinping in Beijing.

The handshake has suddenly made the dark horse a favorite.

Ha! Who needs God’s blessing when you can have the ‘Beijing Handshake’? John Tsang would be Donald Tsang II, though possibly – being of relatively nobler birth than Sir Bow-Tie – less besotted by tawdry second-tier tycoons. That is to say, he would have no clue about policymaking, let alone serious reform. But nor would he want to round up judges, shoot critics and ban the Internet. As the Standard mentions, even members of the establishment fear the alternatives. It’s a tragic thought that we could do worse. I mean…

ObamaCryingThere are also other names, including former security minister Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, who recently tried to catch media attention by publicizing her health report. The trick turned bizarre after she forgot to hide the identity card number.

Widely hated for her role in Article 23, Regina’s main problem is her undisguised, drooling lust for the job. You, me, Beijing alike – it makes everyone nervous. Also, in the last few months alone, she has cried live on radio and shared pictures of her colon. Chinese officials’ rejection of Western-style democracy never sounded more welcome.

The Standard ends up with a simple truth…

It’s unlikely the central government mandarins will make up their minds anytime soon.

They have much else to worry about right now.

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18 Responses to Gruesome field for 2017 race

  1. Nimby says:

    Even Beijing already made a decision on who will be the next CE, then unless they want to neuter Lufsig (or embolden his teams already out of control plundering), they must keep mum til the last possible moment. After all it would only take an afternoon for the liaison office phone bank to call up a majority of the electors and tell them how to vote.

  2. PD says:

    Masterly!

    The more desperate China gets, the more it will reject every alternative, until John Tsang is the only one still standing.

    He’ll be perceived as a “safe pair of hands”, an avuncular figure who, if he doesn’t watch French films, at least knows who the Beatles were. He may even carry much of the civil service with him — until the first crisis rears its ugly head.

  3. Saint Monkey the Uncensored says:

    Kudos on the St. Fran-fran name check Hemmers … perhaps we should hope that the stellar field of candidates might emulate St. Thomas Aquinas instead, a man who, after declaring that the highest form of knowing of God is to know God as that which cannot be known, i.e. as divine mystery that is beyond the human mind capabilities to comprehend (the Tao that can be spoken of is not the true Tao … etc, but Christian canonised – stylee), promptly took a vow of silence never to speak again for the rest of his days … then at least we could judge the candidates along dimensions which are of more substance than their politics, such as moustache sexiness (Regina v John Tsang … hmmm?).

    Anyway the entire shameless, venal exercise brings to mind a number of Erasmus quotes:

    “For whoever strives after the princely place must of necessity either be a fool or else not realize how fraught with care and trial the kingly office really is, ***or he may be so wicked a man that he plans to use the royal power for his own benefit***, not for that of the state, or so negligent that he does not carry out the task he assumed.”

    “I am a lover of liberty. I will not and I cannot serve the Party.” (just did a little correction for him).

    And my 2 faves apropos to the subject:

    “In the country of the blind the one eyed man is king.”

    “I doubt if a single individual could be found from the whole of mankind free from some form of insanity. The only difference is one of degree.”

  4. Saint Monkey the Uncensored says:

    *… beyond the capabilities of the human mind to comprehend i mean …

  5. pie-chucker says:

    *….that no political punter should miss.*

    punter: a person who gambles, places a bet, or makes a risky investment.

    Who’s running the book on this? The CCP, knowing the bet outcome, could clean up on this and bung all the winnings into shoring up the Shanghai Composite. Happy days all round.

    Or does Mary Ma mean ‘pundit’?

  6. Stephen says:

    Best to look at the horses (candidates) from the Jockey’s (CCP) point of view;

    1. Vagina Ip – Rank outsider who fucked up a major race in 2003 and compounded it in July 2015. Not considered and recommend the knackers yard;
    2. Head Prefect Carrie – A tough season has seen her flounder. Suggest she’s allowed the see out her days grazing in Kent;
    3. Lexus Leung – Despite his god given belief, unsure if he’s worshipping the one true god (CCP). Suggest he retains his role as carrier of loot stuffed saddlebags;
    4. CCP Y Leung – Loyal and combative but stubborn and blinkered. Does a job but a thoroughly unpopular nag; Prefer others (but whom ?)
    5. Jean Tsang – smiling, simplistic plodder but will need constant guidance – Preferred out of sheer desperation …

  7. Tom says:

    “The trick turned bizarre after she forgot to hide the identity card number.”

    What is the weird obsession with hiding ID numbers? They’re not secret.

  8. Cassowary says:

    If Beijing is shrewd, they’ll allow Regina to run for the sole purpose of allowing her “opponent” to rack up popularity points on an anyone-but-Regina platform.

    If Beijing is dumb, they’ll give John Tsang the job and make Regina Chief Secretary. Then we’ll all have to endure her asinine, bigoted, self-serving rants for at least another 5 years. Only the functional constituency of satirists and political cartoonists would be pleased.

  9. Joe Blow says:

    CEO: John-The Handshake- Tsang
    CS: Lam Woon Kwong
    Finance: Lexus

    Forget Vagina: old hag, past prime, no power base, hated by absolutely everybody.

  10. Cassowary says:

    The United Front’s desperation is showing now they’ve moved beyond mobilizing retirees at public housing estates and resorted to signing up nursing home residents with dementia. They’ve admitted outright that the sole qualification for being a DAB voter is having a pulse.

  11. @Cassowary – given the lax control of the electoral register, I’m not sure that having a pulse is a requirement. I’m sure the DAB would be happy to sign up zombies and vampires if they came across any – indeed, some of them may already be among the undead.

  12. Dan the Man says:

    There’s no chance they will choose Antony Leung or John Tsang because they’re Christians and the current Chinese Communist Party hates Christianity.

  13. Cassowary says:

    Have you forgotten that Donald Tsang was a devout Catholic? Although a fat lot of good that did him; must’ve forgotten the commandment about not coveting thy neighbour’s stuff.

  14. Dan the Man says:

    That’s why I said the current Chinese Communist Party. The current attitude toward HK under Xi is quite different than it was even under 5 years ago let alone 10 years ago when Tsang was picked. As for me I think that if Leung is not chosen again the more likely person chosen by Xi is ex HK security force head Andy Tsang.

  15. Joe Blow says:

    Strange but true: Former prime minister Wen Jia Bao is reported to be a Christian, as is his family.

  16. Nimby says:

    @Joe
    Jesus, the character in that shabby work of fiction, can be interpreted as a rabid comun(al)ist, a Marxist before Marx. Frankly each generation, and most Christians have re-written that rather poorly strung fiction (as bad as Mein Kamph, and probably more dangerous) until the premise supports any possibility they desire, from “Gott mit uns” to chairmanship of the CCP to Mega-church Prosperity theology (both of the later are Ponzis).

    I look at Wen’s schemes for China, Apple’s biggest market, and have a good laugh. The Jesus character was also anti-consumerist – Like every “Christian”, Wen has his own dogma to over look all the moral ambiguity.

  17. @Dan the Man – interesting that you call it the Security Force rather than the police. The way things are going, we will probably end up with two police forces like the mainland – one for minor misdemeanours like robbery, rape and murder, and another one for major offences like flying the colonial flag, possessing a picture of the Dalai Lama, or refusing to stand for the national anthem.

  18. LRE says:

    @dan the man

    Andy “the vulture” Tsang seems an unlikely candidate — it was his leadership that transformed a minor protest into Hong Kong’s first true political movement since the handover, dividing the territory into yellow or blue. Up until the tear gas, nobody gave much of a stuff about the students or politics in general. After that, it became a topic of interest and friction. The HKPF’s gloriously clumsy overreaction galvanised an entire generation from its prior attitude of accepting lethargy into fervent anti-mainland and anti-authority sentiment.

    Since then the blue camp have slowly but surely revealed themselves as selfish, entitled, inept bunglers, who by their actions make support of them less and less tenable as time goes on. Even diehard blue bootlickers like the DAB are having a hard time supporting a government who is actively poisoning the people who make up their power base.

    So I’m guessing Chemical Tsang is probably not up there in the CCP running as a popular candidate to reunite HK, but I suppose we should never underestimate how badly misinformed the CCP is.

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