It is hard to believe that someone out there takes the September 4 Legislative Council elections really, really seriously. Whoever it is, you would think, they must be pretty clueless and out of touch with what’s happening in Hong Kong. At the best of times, Legco is a constitutionally weak assembly with a rigged membership. Post-Occupy, with Beijing having unequivocally ruled out universal suffrage, the action is going to be elsewhere. Legco is an irrelevant talking shop, and it probably makes little difference what bills and other measures it passes or doesn’t pass, and thus who wins or doesn’t win seats.
But there is somebody who sees the Legco elections as a matter of life and death. Who could be so deluded and obsessed? Step forward, China’s local Liaison Office.
Although there is not going to be any evidence linking Beijing’s local enforcers to the Ken Chow affair, their fingerprints are all over the place. In New Territories West, someone (allegedly, etc) unsuccessfully tried to bribe the Liberal Party’s Chow not to run in the election. Now someone (allegedly, blah blah) has threatened him and his family, and, in tears, he is ‘suspending’ his campaigning. The main beneficiary, in theory, would be Junius Ho, pro-Beijing lawyer and rural leader, who is running as a supposed independent and would like the conservative businessman vote that might favour the Liberal Party.
This follows earlier friction within the pro-Beijing camp between the ‘official’ Communist Party-front DAB and loyal-when-it-suits-them rural/feudal interests. The Ken Chow drama seems to be partly about patching up that rift, while also punishing the supposedly pro-Beijing Liberals, whose disloyalties (in the eyes of Liaison Office officials) include openly detesting Chief Executive CY Leung.
Like so many other United Front attempts to consolidate supporters, frighten waverers and crush opposition, the net result of the whole episode will be repel and alienate most decent-minded onlookers. Not that it will occur to the dolts and thugs in the Liaison Office.
Meanwhile, fate delivers a little gift to anti-government Legco candidates who want some last-minute ammunition to use against opponents who support the administration. CY Leung’s rather (OK, astoundingly) lame plan to reserve some private housing for sale to Hong Kong people only has come to fruition in the form of a development called One Kai Tak. The price for apartments there: between HK$15,000-18,400 a sq ft or, if you’re the Standard and hate to cast property tycoons in a bad light, an average HK$14,400 after discounts.
The developer points out that no-one ever said anything about these ‘For HK-ers Only’ homes being affordable.
For people unable to afford Hong Kong’s sky-high housing prices – apparently on a perpetual upward course that must take them to HK$45,000 per sq ft, HK$200,000 per sq ft, HK$25,000,000 per sq ft in the years of moderate inflation and low median household income growth to come – I declare the weekend open with the reassuring words of Herbert Stein: “If something cannot continue forever, it will stop.” Of course, he never saw the Hong Kong property market.
Having followed Hemlock for so long, I still genuinely marvel at his mastery of rhetoric and spin, of faithfully summarising complex information and — simultaneously? — interpreting it in inimitable manner: a model for “rival” bloggers, and one which guides me in my day-job.
Nevertheless, using Zhong-nan-hai and its local serfs as an explanatory Deus ex machina can be overdone. If one really wished to be cynical, one would point out that Ken Chow has not actually stood down from his candidacy (he’s not allowed to): might he not then also be a beneficiary?
Hemlock is right to expose the irony of $180,000 per square metre, definitely-foreigner-free property. But does its localist status mean that it’s more expensive than similar accommodation? We have the right to know.
A tour d’horizon, a mise à jour and an Überblick. What more could one desire?
Pan-dems of course, have been receiving these sorts of threats for years. The bizarre assassination plot against Martin Lee, Emily Lau’s house broken into, Albert Ho beaten with a baseball bat, Kevin Lau stabbed. The goons obviously aren’t above threatening teenage girls, what with Agnes Chow pressured into stepping down from Scholarism.
Like clockwork, the usual suspects pop up to accuse the pan-dems of crying wolf, being crybabies, consorting with triads, or somehow staging attacks on themselves for shits and giggles. It’s the same depressingly familiar rhetoric used against rape victims: “You’re lying, but anyway you deserved it”.
So it’s almost gratifying to see them eating one of their own. Even if it is a Liberal Party junior nematode.
Livability of Hong Kong as a city will be reduced with the city’s property prices defying gravity. HKP4HKP what a joke!
It’s a real wonder how HKP are so tolerant towards the government considering how much one has to pay for a broom closet.
Only for extreme cynics:
And even if Ken Chow didn’t win, he can claim martyrdom if he’s taken to court (for breaking electoral law) — plus benefit from deconstructing what he may believe are the antics of the pan-dems.
Everytime I hear/read “Hong Kong Property for Hong Kong People” it gets replaced in my head by the gloriously creepy Tubbs and Edward from League of Gentlemen: “This is a local shop for local people.”
So to paraphrase (With Rita Fan & 689 dressed appropriately): “This is a local property for local people. There’s nothing affordable for you here.”