The story so far… Former judge Woo Kwok-hing declares himself a candidate for Chief Executive. Lawmaker and Executive Council poodle Regina Ip admits her all-too obvious lust for the job. Rumours insist that Financial Secretary John Tsang (described by Regina as useless) is on the verge of resigning and starting a campaign. Incumbent CY Leung snaps that members of his administration (Ip, Tsang and anyone else with ideas) should be focusing on their work, and questions whether any alternative CE could possibly match his success in tackling the housing issue and vested interests.
That last comment is not as nauseating or absurd as it might seem. Imagine Regina Ip or John Tsang as CE: both are bureaucrats who cannot envisage that unaffordable housing and vested interests are actual problems or that fundamental reform might be desirable or necessary. John Tsang has indeed been useless, spending the last decade doing little except getting budget forecasts wrong. Regina spouts nonsense about steering the economy into some 70s-style ‘hi-tech’ vision concept thing.
CY has a clear mission: to destroy freedom, pluralism, independent institutions and civil society in Hong Kong in order to ensure the Chinese Communist Party feels safe and secure. At least you know what he stands for. John Tsang has no hard principles, just a nice-guy attitude and a vaguely nostalgic attachment to martial arts and the comforts of French movies and coffee. Regina is a pure ultra-ambitious shoe-shiner, currently promoting ‘Belt and Road’ in a cynical attempt to ingratiate herself with Beijing, and now desperately backbiting rivals – which does little for her image problem.
As for former Justice Woo – some see him as a spoiler who will splinter the anti-CY bloc. But they forget this is a rigged poll, with Beijing deciding the result. A more charitable view is that the old guy’s ‘candidacy’ is a well-intentioned ploy to influence the debate as the Chief Executive ‘election’ charade begins. He criticizes CY for dividing the community, and he states that proper political reform is the only way out of Hong Kong’s mess. His reported comments on universal suffrage imply that Beijing has made a mistake. It’s nothing remarkable, but you could see him as setting a benchmark by which we can judge other, more ‘serious’ contenders.
These could also include, according to the Standard, Carrie Lam, Tsang Yok-sing, Antony Leung, Norman Chan of the Monetary Authority and – to everyone’s delight – Arthur Li of Hong Kong University Council. Emboldened or pressured by ex-Justice Woo’s example, these hopefuls will each go on the record as saying that CY is a disaster who must go, and Beijing must grant Hong Kong full democracy.
Of course we wake from this dream to find that Xi Jinping has crowned himself ‘Core’ of the Communist Party and indeed the entire universe. Experts debate whether this is symbolic or substantial, a Mao-tinged vanity trip or a major boost to despotic control-freakery. But it does not exactly scream out ‘Must listen to Hong Kong public opinion ahead of their make-believe CE election’.
I declare the weekend open with some suggested light viewing: imagine a nearly-three-hour documentary from the year 2116, featuring Syria’s Assad dynasty, Donald Trump, Henry Kissinger and Patti Smith, looking back to the wackiness of the world a century before – HyperNormalization.