In the Hong Kong Legislative Council, the inbuilt pro-government majority rejects mainly democratically elected lawmakers’ motion calling for anti-bribery laws to apply to the Chief Executive as to everyone else. The idea of ending the exemption – which applied to colonial governors – is quite widely supported. The main obstacle is Beijing’s fear that local hostile forces would use the law ‘for political purposes’, meaning to undermine from below the sovereign power’s top-down control.
Arguing against the motion, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam accuses the pro-dems of ‘playing politics’ ahead of District Council elections in less than two weeks. They are, she charges, using the reform proposal at this time to make Chief Executive CY Leung look bad (and embarrass the pro-government parties that opposed the motion).
She is, of course, 100% correct. What is she expecting them to do? The pro-dems will milk the ‘lead-tainted water’ issue for all it’s worth, as well – not to mention countless other examples of defective governance. The pro-Beijing forces have been more than happy to smear and bully their foes these last 18 months, yet it is now unreasonable for the opposition in this rigged electoral system to use a little plain, everyday parliamentary mischievousness to make a point.
Meanwhile, the Standard’s editorial casts a skeptical eye on Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi, whose NLD has just won the country’s first free election since the one stolen from her in 1990. The situation is ‘complicated’; the military will remain influential; and (the editorial implies) the country must kowtow to China and not rely on the US.
I’m not sure if the Standard’s tycoon owner has connections with Burma (the previous Sing Tao Group owner, Sally Aw, of course did). Overseas Chinese with interests in sleazebag-run Southeast Asian countries are not usually big fans of free elections. Alternatively, the editorial might just, in the interests of shoe-shining, reflect Beijing’s wariness about the apparent retreat of despotism from a bordering state. Either way, the paper’s distaste for democracy is obvious.
If you’re really into dictator-friendly media, you’ll like Global Times, which reports that Mainlanders – after Beijing’s censors allow them rare access to Facebook – deluge Taiwan’s DPP leader Tsai Ing-wen with the sort of comments you’d expect. (One theory is that they are paid-for wu mao critics; Tsai’s amused welcome to them instantly makes the whole exercise counterproductive.)
The background is of course the meeting between Xi Jinping and Ma Ying-jeou in Singapore. The idea may have been to bolster the KMT’s prospects in Taiwan’s forthcoming elections, but it has simply provoked more questioning chatter on the island. And who should come wading into the discussion at this point but former Hong Kong governor Chris Patten, who summarizes things neatly for everyone…
Taiwan’s system is democratic; China’s is not. What the example of Hong Kong suggests is that China would have to force Taiwan to give up democracy and the rule of law … before it could welcome its “renegade province” back into the fold.