Hong Kong Chief Executive CY Leung goes a bit Lee Kuan Yew, firing off a snotty-sounding lawyers’ letter (partly here and here) to Apple Daily. He is threatening to sue the tabloid for calling on lawmakers to investigate him for corruption in connection with his
HK$50 million no-compete payment from Australian company UGL in 2011. This, he
claims, could damage his chances of a second term in office as CE. (At least it distracts us from the uncovering of a second case of letting the Heung Yee Kuk dictate housing policy.)
So far, so inadvisable. But he then gets all whiny and nitpicky (in true Singaporean style), accusing the paper of committing an offence under the long-disused Nickname (Disdainful) (Use of) Ordinance, passed way back in 689.
Apple Daily, it goes without saying, gleefully tells him to get lost. (For some lawyer-speak on the potential difficulties of a CY libel action, see here.)
So we can come to several conclusions (aside from the already obvious fact that CY wishes to stay in office for another five fun-packed years). First, although his UGL payoff was probably legitimate, he fears accusation of wrongdoing. Perhaps he has consulted with an expert practitioner of the ancient Chinese science of face-reading who has calculated that Leung has a shifty and baleful visage that might lead people who don’t know any better to see him as untrustworthy. Second, CY is, perhaps surprisingly, rather sensitive about such insulting phrases as ‘wolf’, ‘liar’ and even the – entirely factual – ‘689’. (I’ve always thought he was the type who got a thrill out of being likened to a wild ravenous beast of the night, but it seems not.)
His lawyers have essentially written an open letter to opposition politicians, would-be rivals, hostile media operators and the rest of us, specifying how to upset CY Leung if it becomes necessary, or just for amusement or whatever.
On top of that, there is the undeniable fact that threatening to sue the trashy gutter press – however justifiable – makes you look like a loser. Suing a tabloid? How pathetic. A public figure who allows himself to be goaded in this way is proving his tormentor correct. Indeed, it is one of the later stages in the life-cycle of the failed celebrity.
There’s an old saying: ‘See someone once [for the first time in ages], see them again [soon after]’. Thus it proves with Ronny Tong, hyper-centrist lawyer/politician, last seen just yesterday helping his daughter-in-law out with a HK$65 million apartment. He instantly crops up again, this time hobnobbing with HK and Macau Affairs Office guy Feng Wei in Shenzhen. He informs the Beijing official that it might be best if CY doesn’t get a second term. Will CY send Ronny legal threats too?
Can you imagine the impact in Zhongnanhai? ‘Memo to Comrade Xi: New important moderate in Xianggang Ronny says ditch Leung. Suggest we take his valuable advice. Rgds, Feng.’ No, nor can I.
Accompanying Ronny was one Tik Chi-yuen of the staggeringly insignificant Third Way grouping. Despite failing in the elections a few weeks ago, these sensible meek-and-mild non-extremists at least get a pat on the head from Beijing. I declare the weekend open by awarding them the Most Underwhelming Endorsement of the Month. Feng, reports Tik, ‘was supportive and said it might take a few more years for [the] middle-of-the-road force to see more influence’. (Feng wins Most Contemptuously Dishonest Impression of Being ‘Supportive’ Prize.) Consider yourself neutralized by the United Front.
Perhaps 689’s lawyers should learn how to write grammatical, factually accurate and logical sentences?
“… accused…as being… and that he should be…” -> “of… of”
“… consistent with…” the entirely innocent activities of the newspaper?
“Apple… made up.. names… such as ‘689’”: really?
“so-called corruption”: does this mean that there _were_ nefarious activities, although not exactly corrupt?
689’s snivelling legal letter reminds me of the famous Private Eye “case” of Arkell v. Pressdram (1971). The plaintiff was the subject of an article relating to illicit payments (just like 689), and Private Eye (read Apple Daily) had ample evidence to back up the article.
Arkell’s lawyers wrote a letter which concluded: “His attitude to damages will be governed by the nature of your reply.”
The magazine’s response was, in full: “We acknowledge your letter of 29th April referring to Mr J. Arkell. We note that Mr Arkell’s attitude to damages will be governed by the nature of our reply and would therefore be grateful if you would inform us what his attitude to damages would be, were he to learn that the nature of our reply is as follows: fuck off.”
The in-house counsel at the Cleveland Browns perfected the response to silly legal threats in 1974, as follows (fitted to occasion):
Dear Mr Leung,
Attached is a letter that we received on September 29th. I feel you should be aware that some asshole is signing your name to stupid letters.
Very truly yours,
General Counsel, Apple Daily
If this is the first hint that the CCP has given the green light for 689 to have 5 more years then it would seem they are telling HK in no uncertain terms to f*ck off. You have refused to follow the script so therefore you must be punished. Of course let’s not kid ourselves that there will be a contest, if he runs he wins. Vagina or some Pro-Dem (don’t) may decide to provide some token competition but it will be nothing more than a sad side show. Watch 689 and the other true believers tomorrow morning as the band strikes up the anthem and they sing heartily along completely oblivious to the havoc they are causing and they will continue to reap.
Dictatorships – they are so predictable.
CY Leung is China’s choice,
A tall man with a fine deep voice,
A husband and a father (but
At least one daughter is a nut).
Although in Hong Kong born and bred,
He is willing to be led.
A deputation sometimes comes
And holds him under Mainland thumbs.
They do not have to use much force:
He quickly says, “Yes! Yes, of course!”
While in the matter of rural land:
Under the grimy thumb or hand
Of rural lords who have a way
Of making him do what they say,
He knows that if they want some fields,
He consults with them, and yields.
Tall in stature, voice so bass,
CY seems secure in place;
One thing causes great distress:
The comments in the hostile press.
He reads them and they pierce his heart,
And that is when the teardrops start.
In the evening CY creeps
Alone into his bed, and weeps.
He smites his forehead: What to do?
And then he thinks: I know, I’ll sue!
The rotten Apple daily fights
To rob me of my human rights;
Their writers, spiteful and unkind,
Rob me of my peace of mind.
I’ll strike them with a dreadful fear!
But Apple answers with a jeer.
Those callous people are not cowed;
They look at him and laugh out loud.
If you are a public man,
Be as private as you can.
Be resilient. Don’t reveal
How vulnerable and weak you feel.
A fine ode this, Knownot. Bravo!