Loyalists grab most-tedious Legco jobs

The Hong Kong Legislative Council begins its new session with much gnashing of teeth as pro-Beijing lawmakers grab the top positions on committees and panels. Last week, they (from pro-democrats’ viewpoint) hijacked the assembly’s two main committees, and now they seize control of most of the subcommittees. This will make it harder for pro-democrats to get in the government’s (and public’s) face by holding up spending proposals and bills.

It is partly retaliation for last year, when the pro-dems’ outsmarted the loyalists in the jockeying for influence over the council’s work. It also represents an end to the practice of letting the democratically elected opposition have some top seats to compensate for over-representation of pro-government members from small, rigged functional constituencies. This tradition did not reflect a sense of fairness so much as a perceived need to give the system some credibility. Now, any pretense that representatives of the people deserve a voice – if only for the sake of symbolic legitimacy – has been abandoned. It is now about raw power.

This is part of a pattern. The police and other front-line government departments are Stan-BadBloodturned into political tools. Public bodies are padded out with loyalists who can impose political tests in academia. Grim old cadres from Party Central rail against separation of powers. Communist propaganda turns on the party’s co-opted shoe-shining Hong Kong tycoons. It’s No More Mr Nice Communist Dictatorship. The Beijing officials at the Liaison Office have clearly ordered the Hong Kong government to throw that colonial gentlemanly-sporting-decency hogwash out the window and get on with exerting proper, no-nonsense Control.

Much of the public, fed up with pro-dem lawmakers’ filibustering (or at least pro-establishment media’s laborious reporting of it), will not be too concerned about Legco committees. The mainstream pro-dem legislators will probably focus on the small picture and indulge in some self-pitying moaning. For years, they have fought nobly for their principles within a structure that is rigged against them but pluralistic and rules-based. Their old guard (which means most of them) are hopelessly ill-equipped to survive, let alone counter, a Leninist enemy-crushing machine that regards fairness with contempt and does not distinguish legitimacy from power.

The next Legislative Council election is less than 12 months away. By Hong Kong standards, it will be brutal: the Liaison Office will not hesitate to use fake voters, fake candidates, smears, bribery and physical intimidation to defeat the opposition. The old campaigners like Emily Lau and Albert Ho should be planning on giving way to a younger, more nimble and creative generation, who can find ways to use the United Front’s brute strength against it.

For example, the Liaison Office-led Hong Kong regime from this point on will have no interest in credibility or the pretense of a level playing-field. It will want, among other things, a rubber-stamp legislature. So, fine – abandon Legco. Let it be full of hapless puppets, and let the people draw their own conclusions about its legitimacy and decide who really represents them. Meanwhile, use the sort of unpredictable, tech-exploiting, culturally rich, energetic and witty methods of the last 12 months’ activism and protest to maximum asymmetric effect. The fight is, ultimately, against people who can’t handle a university Magna Carta exhibit.

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10 Responses to Loyalists grab most-tedious Legco jobs

  1. Cassowary says:

    I don’t have much faith in the young activists either, unfortunately. Despite moments of creative brilliance, they can’t keep up anything like a long term campaign. They’re just as prone to bickering amongst themselves about ideology as the old guard (see crack-up of the Federation of Student Unions), in a few years they’ll be too busy with day jobs and student loan repayments, and the behaviour of the most obnoxious localists is basically free PR for the establishment camp’s “Da Youf Dese Days Are Useless” bleating.

    All we can do now is lob occasional spitballs from the back of the classroom and wait it out.

  2. Cassowary says:

    I see Ken Tsang has been arrested and charged with obstruction of police officers, among other charges. It’s going to be Breast Woman all over again. He wasn’t being kicked, he was obstructing police officers by lying down in front of their feet.

  3. chris says:

    Enjoying these last few of your blog posts while I still have access to them on the internet. If it weren’t for the pollution, I’m certain that the indigo and violent tinged skies over the big lychee would be simply beautiful…

  4. Docta G says:

    I’m wearing my REJECT FAKE DEMOCRACY T-shirt today. Do you have one? Most people don’t like it. It’s sad to realise that Hong Kong people now have what they deserve. Some of it. Largely they have what they don’t deserve.

  5. Concerned Faculty Member says:

    Cassowary – I believe there is footage of Mr. K. Tsang splashing a liquid from above Lung Wo Road onto the cops on the street below. Maybe that is considered “assault” and is why the 7 Dwarfs decided to give him a tune-up.

  6. RSG says:

    The CS Monitor article you link to has a quote from Helen Gao, regarding Chinese students’ views on challenging authority: they “feel they have little to gain, but much to lose”. Is that not the same dynamic in Hong Kong as well? There are pockets of HK society that clearly are politically aware, but for the most part, people here keep their heads down and acquiesce, just as their cousins across the border (boundary, rather) do every day.

  7. Cassowary says:

    Concerned Faculty Member: I’m aware of the footage, I was making what is known as a joke.

    RSG: It’s the same in Singapore. The giant opposition rallies before the last election backfired, people took one look at how many others were there and voted PAP to be safe. They’d like the opposition to check the PAP but not to actually run the country.

    I think Hong Kongers tend to be more jaded and cynical, but that just means they don’t expect the government to be any good, and would rather these rowdy pan-dems just shut up and let everybody get on with it. They’re quite all right with a Schroedinger’s Cat of a political system, a One Country, Two Systems that can coexist only as long as you don’t look in the box, rights that exist as long as you don’t push too hard, and money to be made as long as you accept a certain amount of being ripped off by tycoons. The pan-dems and the students’ insistence on logic and rules and fairness is tiresome. Why can’t they leave it alone? Everyone knows the emperor had no clothes. Stop shouting about it. We don’t care.

  8. @chris – did you mean “violent”? Or was it supposed to be violet?

  9. Laguna Lurker says:

    When Ken Tsang was arrested last year, he was accused of only three offences: obstructing government officials, participating in an unlawful assembly, and failing to produce identification. All three charges were subsequently dropped by the police.

    Only now he is to be charged with “inflicting harm on police officers”—an offence I’d never come across in more than 20 years of policing. It’s alleged that he splashed the officers with an unidentified liquid. The burning question is: why was the liquid not sampled for testing as soon as possible after the alleged splashing? If the liquid remains unidentified, whereby is harm caused?

    If those seven stalwart young officers felt they had been “assaulted” with what was almost certainly water, they’d better steer clear of Thailand during the Song Kran Festival!

    The shakily based prosecution of Tsang is an indication that the HK government is bending over—and not necessarily backwards—to appease its masters at the Liaison Office.

    There’ll probably be quite a bit of frantic case-list shuffling to ensure a suitably malleable judge/magistrate determines the cops’ fate.

    I have little doubt that their defence will pivot upon “extreme provocation”. Sounds legit.

  10. Nimby says:

    Laguna Lurker: I’m waiting for the police to start dragging in the owners of all those dripping a/c units. The rain god in the docket will be an interesting thing to see. Will they use a Taoist priest to incarnate it?

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