Regina Ip, Hong Kong’s very own Iron Butterfly, dons her bullet-proof bra and finally announces her desperate, drooling and long-obvious feverish desire to be Chief Executive.
She doesn’t seem to notice that her support base is a bit threadbare, comprising mainly retired colonial-era officials, and Westerners at that. Oh, and Peggy Lam – the redoubtable contraceptive-pushing Dragon Lady of Wanchai, apparently (and gratifyingly) still alive. This is a 1980s nostalgia tour.
One reason Regina is scraping the bottom of the barrel is that Hong Kong’s great and good establishment ‘elite’ are still waiting for Beijing to indicate positively who it will pick as next CE. Many of them got their fingers burned last time, endorsing Henry Tang and then finding CY Leung getting the job. If Regina flew up to Beijing tomorrow to get a hug from Xi Jinping, they would all drop to their knees in adoration of her.
Another reason is that not many people like her. Regina Ip is different from most Hong Kong politicians in that she has a big personality – it’s just not a very nice one. She scoops up the aging leather-fetishist vote on Hong Kong Island in Legislative Council elections, but is otherwise too openly, scarily opportunistic and ambitious for the top job. Her every word and action over the last few years has been for the benefit of a small audience in Zhongnanhai. Hence her establishment of a ‘Belt and Road’ Inanity Institute, her cold, steely psychopathic attitude to radicals and other threats to national security, those visits to the Liaison Office, and that junk-policy-platform she released yesterday. She doesn’t care what anyone in Hong Kong thinks and is impervious to your mockery.
Surrounded by blandness, she is genuinely fascinating in a lurid sort of way, and it’s no wonder the media can’t resist her.
She does have allies lurking in the background. The hardcore fans of CY Leung look to her as a replacement for their defenestrated hero. But she is a fake. CY converted to the True Chinese Communist Faith back in the late 70s and is a devout zombie-slave to the cause. Regina is just another Instant-Noodle Patriot, like so many of the Hong Kong establishment, kneeling, praying and shoe-shining at the Red altar out of economic necessity or lust for acceptance and status. Anyway – if CY and his Liaison Office buddies are the local losers in a Beijing power-struggle, Regina-as-surrogate is toast.
Maybe Beijing will allow her onto the ballot as a sop for the CY faction or to make presumed winner Carrie Lam look reassuringly calm and moderate by contrast. And then it will be over. We will never know what life would have been like under the stiletto heel and horse-whip of Broom-head.
I declare the weekend open with something for serious fans of Asian female politicians crashing to their deaths – the ultimate explainer on Park Geun-hye’s Shaman Explosion and other Korean weirdness, Part 1, and Part 2.