Hong Kong has just another eight weeks of relative peace before it finds itself in the midst of the 2016 Legislative Council election campaign. The city’s sidewalks, station exits, airwaves, mailboxes and homes will be invaded by pushy candidates representing all manner of political parties, from the desperate to the despicable to the hopeless to the tragic. Even the Jehovah’s Witnesses and cable TV salesmen will give up in despair and retreat from the streets into their little dark burrows.
In my constituency, Hong Kong Island, the number of seats is being cut from seven to six. There is probably a deeply fascinating reason for this, presumably to do with reallocation of seats owing to higher population growth in other regions of the city. Of course, it will not reduce the number of candidates; it will simply increase and concentrate their hyperactive, grabby, in-your-face leaflet-distribution and door-knocking.
In theory, the loyalist/pro-government parties are coordinated behind the scenes by the forces of darkness at Beijing’s Liaison Office, while the pro-democracy and opposition groups are a chaotic mess of pointless rivalries and vote-cannibalization. But even tawdry shoe-shining Communist Party poodles have egos, and some are tempted to run even though the United Front machine tells them to stand aside for the greater, patriotic good. The Heung Yee Kuk’s rural goons have already proposed a new party dedicated to themselves.
In Hong Kong Island, the DAB’s hapless Christopher Chung is threatening to run as an independent because colleague Horace Cheung will get top place in the party list, which pretty much consigns Chung to the garbage heap. The DAB is the CCP’s core local front, so enforcers will probably persuade him otherwise, but it’s a sign of infighting in what is supposed to be a disciplined, Leninist system.
Assuming he does not go rogue, Hong Kong Island is likely to have three pro-government parties on the ballot in September, each targeting its own constituency. The DAB will cater to the elderly, the small shop-keepers, the die-hard or opportunist patriots among the professions, and the seedy suckers-of-toothpicks and haters of evil foreigners. The parallel FTU (Federation of Trade Unions) will campaign among employees of Mainland enterprises and Beijing-friendly companies, and members of patriotic labour groups. Regina Ip’s New People’s Party will go for a somewhat nebulous conservative middle-class/civil-servant demographic. I’m guessing the sort of authoritarian/Christian types who tut-tut at the computer game-addicted gay sex-fiend drug-and-porn-pushing student radicals and bad elements wrecking our primary schools. She’s probably helped by the fact that the pro-business Liberal Party won’t be running. (All I know is – someone votes for her.)
Of course, if the Liberals do run on the Island, she (and they) could well lose. Despite their name, the Liberals are late tycoons’ slimy kids with a dash – an insufficient one – of maverick. They are planning a big push in other districts in the hope of coming across as some sort of middle-ground. The word is that disgruntled businessman Ricky Wong of HKTV might run on Hong Kong Island. He has a huge grudge against the current administration, yet the chatterers and commentators see him as a threat to the government loyalist Regina. If true, this suggests that the constituency has a population of mildly skeptical pro-business bourgeois moderates (which it does) under-served by existing political parties.
Which brings us to the pro-dems, who seem to dedicate themselves to under-serving us all. The SCMP says the Civic Party’s Tanya Chan, Labour’s Cyd Ho, and one Ted Hui of the Democratic Party will all run separate tickets, as will Baggio Leung of localist group Youngspiration. At least one or two other localist/independence groups (lost count of them all) could join the fray. So you’ll have four or five opposition groups fighting for three seats so messily that they could end up with just two.
Enjoy the next eight weeks’ peace and quiet.