The Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce is where the city’s different Big Business sub-cultures come together. They are all there, from venerable former opium traders to modern-day property developers – all our favourite tycoons, cartels, conglomerates and financiers, with some public-sector and bureaucracy oozing in. A glance at the ‘horrors of chamber’ gallery of chairmen, CEOs and Legislative Council representatives gives you the gruesome picture. (No innovative, disruptive, new-economy, competition-creating tech riffraff, please.)
As an international body, the HKGCC can forego the patriotic, glorious-motherland, Communist-worship that would be required of an all-ethnic-Chinese grouping. But otherwise, it is the embodiment of the Hong Kong establishment – rows of them in their finest networking suits, willing and able to sit through a government official’s mind-numbing speech on Belt and Road with a straight face.
As lobbyists for policies to push rents up and chuck public wealth at white-elephant projects, the HKGCC are, of course, careful to be politically sound. Three years ago, they dutifully backed Beijing’s quasi-democracy reform proposals and criticized the Occupy movement. But now, they could find themselves in trouble: they have invited former governor Chris Patten to give a talk next month.
Patten has just committed a minor-grade Outrage of the Panda by voicing support for Hong Kong’s newly acquired political prisoners, Joshua Wong et al. It’s just a book-plug thing and probably no big deal – but in the world of the pre-emptive shoe-shine, people lie awake at night worrying about the smallest possibility of attracting Beijing’s vengeance and wrath.
Perhaps this would be a good time for the Chamber to go over-the-top on publicity for its other forthcoming thrilling exclusive world-famous speaker – Rimsky Yuen, Hong Kong’s Secretary for Justice, who reportedly insisted that prosecutors demand Beijing’s preferred degree of vengeance and wrath in re-sentencing the young activists. Amid the excitement, maybe no-one will notice they’ve also invited the Panda-baiting Patten.
Observant types will spot an interesting difference between the two events. Patten – attention-seeking, with a new book to push – will be allowing the press to attend his talk. Rimsky, on the other hand, as a very important, self-effacing and classy Secretary for Justice, has better things to do than answer impertinent questions from reporter-rabble, and will be barring the media. So, tragically, we might never know what he says.
I wonder if the Justice Dept would ever consider letting us know many 17 year olds it routinely sends to jail for a first offense.
I’m glad that you acknowledge that the capitalists of Hong Kong are at least part of the geneal horror.
As your online tutor, I must ask you to take the next step and acknowledge that United States and Chinese money are much of a muchness, indistinguishable, and part of the general terror on us all. The fact that something called the Chinese Communist Party administers a large part of the Chinese money doesn’t make it less capitalist or less horrifying. Call it UBS instead. Does it matter? They all have e same rules.
There is no capiltism on the side of the Angels. Write this a hundred times by tomorrow and put it on my desk.
The first time I saw Rimsky Yuen interviewed on TV (probably by Michael Chugani) my instinctive reaction was “What a slimy weasel!” Nothing he has done since has changed that first impression.
Rim job comes to mind
A local publisher told me that Patten’s book was banned from the Hong Kong Book Fair this year.
Well done Lord Patten – what delicious timing. Wonder how many of the great and good of the HKGCC would dare to be seen at your speech ?
Rimsky has gotten where he is purely by virtue of his sliminess. I once saw him taken apart with consummate ease by another another former bar association chairman in a debate. All Rimsky could do was sit there and giggle unctuously.
For “quasi democracy” read pseudo-democracy.
Are you sure Rimjob’s actually barring the media ? At the rate Zhongnanhai’s freaking out surely he knows that by the time he steps up to the lectern most of HK’s independent journalists will be in prison for unauthorised Winnie the Pooh comparisons, if not for breathing.
At some point Patten will be in the headlines for being detained, questioned and bundled on a return flight
*Prince Charles impersonation voice* One would think that if one earned as much undeserved money as Rimsky Yuen does, one could afford to have one’s teeth fixed, couldn’t one ?
Shirley Yam is not with the SCMP anymore
As to Shirley Yam I was invited to a talk at the FCC recently where the good lady and others were very negative as to censorship. I thought she was too pessimistic (given my connections with the land of the damned, other wise known as the Philippines (my copyright)) but her departure clearly indicates her foreboding was correct.
Where if at all can you now obtain authorative, fairly accurate, factual reporting in English as to HK affairs? Preferably in print?