Hong Kong is in suspense as it waits to see which of two or three aging mediocre bureaucrats China’s Communist Party will use as puppets in a rigged charade of an ‘election’ for the city’s next hapless failed leader.
The pre-unveiling leak-announcement of Chief Secretary Carrie Lam’s ‘campaign team’ suggests a strenuous and calculated attempt to win over public opinion with a shock-and-awe assault of meek and mild moderation. Her supporters (reportedly) include renegade pro-democrat Ronny Tong, and Francis Ngai, an enthusiast of social-enterprises – caring sharing non-profits that don’t threaten crony-capitalist interests. Former Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa’s Our Hong Kong tycoon-linked think-tank thing, which has also done research on how to mollify angry underclasses and sub-cultures, is lurking in the background.
Carrie’s two rival ex-civil servants stand naked by comparison. Financial Secretary John Tsang (avuncular, incompetent) tendered his resignation ages ago, and is yet to receive a positive response – which we are told he must obtain – from Beijing. (Cue witty cartoon in the South China Morning Post.) Regina Ip (authoritarian, hyper-ambitious), currently a legislator, can only watch as supposed allies like Allan Zeman and Bernard Chan sign up for Carrie.
Carrie is burdened with the Curse of the Ming Vases. Today’s scarcely believable Palace Museum semi-horror comes from (because there’s hardly anyone else left) the Equal Opportunities Commission. The EOC helpfully points out that one of the administration’s reasons for hurriedly and secretly picking Rocco Yim as architect – his wholesome Chinese-ness and genetic ability to understand Sinic culture – might be racism. With government stooge-bodies like the EOC for friends, who needs enemies? Beijing’s officials ask what manner of evil Western rules-based pluralist perversity this ‘Equal Opportunities’ thing is, and despair.
More great news for Carrie, and especially for long-term strategists in Beijing: you’re doing a great hearts-and-minds job – among the elderly and uneducated. Alienation of the young and schooled continues. And the best the Communists can come up with is Ronny Tong.
A fourth theoretical contender for Chief Executive is Justice Woo Kwok-hing. As a ‘joke’ candidate, he is the only one to come up with an idea – namely that New Territories villagers be allowed to build high-rise towers instead of their traditional ‘small houses’, thus solving Hong Kong’s housing shortage. It’s not actually an original idea, and no-one can work out whether it’s insane or brilliant. But you can be sure that none of the three ‘serious’ candidates come up with anything at all on the subject.
Which brings us to the issue of land, and the incredible prices being paid by Mainland developers for plots at Kai Tak. In case you missed it, the SCMP’s Shirley Yam asks what’s going on. It’s not just potentially yet-higher apartment prices, or increasingly desperate capital flight from the glorious motherland, or even a simple-and-honest crooks’ stampede from the anti-graft police – it’s weirder. A reminder that there is still hope of salvation and release for Hong Kong in the form of economic implosion north of the border.
“Even if the project will be paid for by the [Hong Kong] Jockey Club, it is still public money because their income comes from (a government enforced monopoly on) betting,” Waung said. “I would have expected the government to take the consultation seriously.” Finally, someone who get’s it. Money coming out of the Jockey Club isn’t charity, it’s tax. Then there is the value of the land as well.
The Jockey Club is supposed to foot the HK$3.5 billion price tag for designing and building the museum. I know Beijing Government mode of operations in cultural artifacts, it’s going to be just like the Pandas, that “gift” is going to include a steep rental, and for some 2nd class artifacts. I expect nearly all will be fakes that the museums make themselves (nearly all displayed artifacts in mainland China are copies/fakes made on the order of the museum, and the actual artifacts kept in storage. I know that has been the case for the several displays done in Hong Kong from the Palace Museum on temporary loan, and see no reason why it would change. (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/04/arts/design/04museums.html).
Finally, Hara-Carrie is not being honest (as is her habit) about all the hidden costs, hidden agenda (3rd line into government art and culture admin fully under Beijing’s control) and the large number of PRC staff who will be put on to HK Government payrolls, including housing, travel allowances, etc. She is a firm believer in lying by omission, as well as a grasping person. Wait till the press starts digging up what her family has been doing in the UK off of her government positions in Hong Kong.
This whole tempest over the red-headed-stepchild Palace Museum and ensuing media feeding frenzy not only ensures Lam’s “campaign” is full-on in earnest, but has guaranteed her “winning” as her name is splashed all over and so often that it’s become ingrained into the skull in a subliminal manner.
Carrie Lam? CE? CE? Carrie Lam!
Funny to see Semen the sycophant-Gweilo-whore-du-jour first slobbering over Broomhead and then tossing her to the kerb in favor of the sure bet. Hong Kong loyalty at its finest.
A couple of questions:
First, why did John TSANG have to resign LONG BEFORE asking for Beijing’s (still not delivered) blessing to join the CE, while Carrie LAM can be still Chief Secretary until she has to resign later today, minutes before entering the CE “election”? A blatant example of “one rule for Financial Secretaries and one rule for Chief Secretaries”!
Second, I can’t agree that HKJC’s money is “public money” just because it comes from citizens who choose to use HKJC’s services to bet. Does this mean that Hong Kong Electric’s profits are also “public money” because is comes from citizens who choose to use electricity on Hong Kong Island and Lamma? In both cases the provider of the services has a monopoly, but only in one case (betting) do you actually have a choice whether you want to use the service (in the second case, you can always move across the Harbour to the dark side, but will still be faced with a monopoly service provider).
@Big Al – the electricity providers are commercial companies, but the Jockey Club is awarded its betting franchise on the understanding that its surplus revenue will be used for the public good. If nothing else, this surely imposes on it some expectation of transparency as to how the money is spent.
“there is still hope of salvation and release for Hong Kong in the form of economic implosion north of the border”
This worries me. When China turned Red
The victors were pure and cruel.
They killed the rich. But many fled
And started a new life, under colonial rule.
During the Famine, Hongkongers had food
And sent parcels to their relations.
In the Cultural Revolution, Hong Kong stood
Firm, despite the demonstrations.
After June the Fourth, Hong Kong was free
To protest. But if there is a collapse
Of China’s economy, will our bit of China be
Saved by it? Well, perhaps.
If John Tsang does not get the top job then getting an exclusive handshake from Xi dada no longer has any meaning. Or it could mean that Xi dada is no longer on top of his game.
Make of that whatever you want.
And whatever will happen, since Vagina has pissed off (but not on) both Carrie and Pringles, fat chance she will get into Exco. So for her it’s the endgame. Good riddance.