It is obvious that the Chinese government has chosen senior bureaucrat Carrie Lam as Hong Kong’s next Chief Executive. Although she is being handed the job on a plate, the Communist-style process involves a make-believe ‘election’ by a rigged group of 1,200 voters in March. For the sake of appearances, she must therefore mount a sham campaign. With no incentive (let alone aptitude) to win public support, her efforts are so superficial as to be embarrassing and insulting.
Her supposed rally on Friday was needlessly fake-looking, right down to the sterile Convention Centre location and the contrived enthusiasm of the invitation-only audience. The South China Morning Post dutifully reported that she melted hearts with her personal touch. But the biggest affront to ordinary citizens was the presence of dozens upon dozens of predictable tycoon-bureaucrat/pro-Beijing establishment, crony and shoe-shiner ‘elites’…
In terms of public perception, this was excessive and counter-productive. As well as mighty property developers and devout Communist sympathizers, there were legions of familiar (not to say faded and mostly octogenarian) opportunists and sycophants, right down to the ubiquitous Bunny Chan. So superfluous was this parade of cartels and zombies that Carrie subsequently felt a need to point out her token handicapped and brown-skinned fans…
…as if her toilet paper, MTR, Mainland beggar and other idiocies weren’t stomach-churning enough.
In fairness to the lady, she is a pawn in Beijing’s Leninist United-Front game. To the Mainland officials behind the scenes, the main priority is extracting public displays of loyalty from the ‘various sectors’ that comprise the Communist Party’s local power base.
Many, if not most, of the assembled great and good do not particularly like Carrie. The tycoons fear being sidelined by Mainland political-business interests (noticeably absent at the rally), while the traditional red Beijing loyalists resent a British-trained colonial-era running dog being elevated to the top job. The purpose of the rally was to force them all to openly kowtow to the emperor’s anointed one.
In terms of public presentation, it gets more laughable. Diligent netizens quickly find that Carrie’s ‘We Connect’ slogan is also the name of a desperate sex-app. And the next excitement will be her quasi-platform – guaranteed to be devoid of any imagination, vision or specifics, because why should she bother?
We went through all of this five years ago, when tycoon-official Henry Tang engaged in a similarly unconvincing pretense at running in an election. Murky Beijing factional skullduggery knocked him out of the picture at the last minute, but the Xi regime seems to have a grip on the 2017 proceedings. Few establishment figures dare openly back Carrie’s rivals, and those who say they are undecided sound unconvincing.
Former Financial Secretary John Tsang isn’t totally giving up. His recent stunt is crowdfunding his campaign, which is presumably designed to stir subliminal symbolism of young underdog localist legislators raising legal funds against political persecution. By Hong Kong standards, this is quite edgy and clever – which is what happens when you don’t get something handed on a plate.
Confident that the winner is a shoe-in, the SCMP slaps smart-ass John down by sneering that Carrie is too busy dedicating herself to her noble public-service mission to bother with this on-line stuff…