The big news today is that someone out there finds it a ‘shock’ that University of Hong Kong Vice-chancellor Peter Mathieson is quitting. If the guy had wanted to stay as the Chinese Communist Party stuffed the school’s governing body with sniveling shoe-shiners – that would be a story. Given the likely pay-cut involved in moving from a Hong Kong to a UK university at his level, I will forgive him for occasionally walking a dog through my neighbourhood.
Meanwhile, Beijing’s United Front forces are busy micro-managing the quasi-election for Hong Kong’s Chief Executive. Observant insomniacs will have noticed that two significant blocs have recently started to look slightly less than 100% supportive of presumed ‘winner’ Carrie Lam.
The DAB – the Communists’ main local party-political appendage – is rather too obviously maintaining that at least some of its zombies are undecided. Coquettish front-person Starry Lee even claims that ‘the personal preferences of the [Leninist totalitarian brainwashing machine] members should be respected’. Translation: our masters in Beijing’s local Liaison Office worry that the whole ‘election’ charade is looking idiotic, and have told us to make it look a bit more real.
The grasping rural godfathers of the Heung Yee Kuk are also putting on a show of being slightly less pro-Carrie. Perhaps they too got a call from the Liaison Office. But they will also no doubt see a chance to extract concessions on their illicit feudal land-scams from candidates or higher powers in return for their loyalty. One of them blurts out to the South China Morning Post that they are, anyway, still unsure whether Carrie is definitely going to be Beijing’s choice.
One of the distinguishing traits of the otherwise motley rabble that comprise the pro-Beijing alliance is that many – not all, but a higher-than-average proportion – are at the intellectually less-dazzling end of the spectrum. It couldn’t be otherwise, if you consider that being best friends with the Communist Party requires obedience and the parroting of the official line, however absurd.
Sadly, this manifests itself in Beijing’s choice of Hong Kong leaders. We have had three so far. Two have been kicked out by popular demand of the (disfranchised) citizens, while one is on trial on corruption charges. Carrie Lam looks set to be the fourth, but John Tsang would do at a pinch.
It must be clear by now that Beijing’s number-one and overwhelming qualification for the job is total loyalty and obedience. Under Xi Jinping, it’s worse. To Communists paranoid about foreign-tainted Hong Kong, this rules out anyone with a streak of independence (a problem with overly ambitious Regina Ip), their own mind, flair, originality – indeed, probably leadership skills. So you can forget any chance of real new thinking on housing, education, traffic and so on. The CCP is too frightened of people who are capable (just in case you wondered why, out of 7 million people, our establishment ‘elite’ is comprised of blinkered bureaucrats, scions and shoe-shiners).
Asia Sentinel wonders whether Beijing might yet pull the plug on Carrie if she continues with her toilet-paper, Octopus card, Mainland beggar, Palace Museum, messages-from-God mishaps. Maybe we should hope it doesn’t happen – the more clumsy and out-of-touch with the young and educated the next CE, the better the chances of some real change later on. John Tsang (biggest brainwave: food trucks) would have exactly the same non-policies, but distract everyone with his flying Kung Fu kicks and French movies.
I declare the weekend open with hopes that China’s whole state-corporate house of cards is approaching its end – some intriguing reading on Alibaba’s recent investor-update and an Alibaba-related deal.