Oh, and he’s got a new book out…

Hong Kong’s last British governor Chris Patten hits town. (His modern-day counterpart Chief Executive Carrie Lam dons an unspeakable blue jacket and visits the UK to hobnob with even earlier colonial relics – including an eerily preserved Lydia Dunn.)

For each minute of wit and each minute of wisdom, Patten usually comes up with several more minutes of self-serving platitudes about pre-handover decision-making – and some apparent naivety about the nature of China’s Leninist regime. His HKFP interview is no exception.

He misses the point when he insists that calls for Hong Kong independence are unrealistic. The ‘pro-independence movement’ was largely fabricated by Chief Executive CY Leung, presumably because the Liaison Office wanted a post-Occupy pretext for a heightened clampdown on opposition forces. Mischievous radicals quickly embraced the meme as a sure-fire way to anger and alarm Beijing. It’s hard to say who’s playing into whose hands. As China heightens repression in Hong Kong, ‘independence’ could take on more significance as a rallying cry among an angrier resistance. But as of now, no-one seriously foresees a city-state republic here, short of a collapse of the Communist Party.

Patten also pleads with the Chinese/Hong Kong leaders to debate and discuss with the young rather than alienate them through oppression. This is like advising Chinese officials to stop shaving beards off Muslim men in Xinjiang in order to improve relations with Uighurs – or to relax controls on the media, Internet and courts to nurture a more accountable government and innovative economy. Paranoid dictatorships don’t do obvious common sense.

The former governor is probably being diplomatic and prudent. Even the gentle suggestion that his successor should speak truth to Beijing will attract accusations of unacceptable interference in China’s internal affairs. And few other qualified overseas figures even take an interest. Meanwhile, over in London, perhaps the conversation is about how much a nice retirement place in Oxfordshire is likely to cost in 2022…

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18 Responses to Oh, and he’s got a new book out…

  1. Headache says:

    I’m enjoying the aptly-heightened cynicism of the blog these days. Just a quick drive-by to plead with you to stop capitalising “internet”. You don’t write “Telephone” do you?

  2. Stephen says:

    Fat Pang is not a member of the Lydia, Wilson UK based old HK clique, although one would imagine, there aren’t too many left ? He gives his opinion and to me he’s usually on the money (heck even Mrs. Stephen listens when he speaks). However I wonder what nuggets, apart from Oxfordshire Property prices, Carrie got from the gathering ? “Steady the bus” “Best not antagonize them old girl” “People have got to know their place” etc etc ad nauseam. Music to Xi Dada’s ears.

  3. Mjrelje says:

    It looks like Lydia has recently had open heart surgery or she has her lung imprinted on ther dress? Eitherway, great outfit for haloween.

  4. stan says:

    I see that while in UK, Curry Lam has been bleating about unfair aspersions being cast against HK judges in the retrial case. This is disingenuous.

    From what I see not many are complaining about the judges, they are complaining about Rimjob and the Justice Department for following orders from upstairs and pushing through a retrial more than a year after the boys had served their original sentence. No way Carrie would have voluntarily condoned that approach as it flies in the face of her alleged bridge-mending *ahem* platform.

  5. LRE says:

    I still remember Chris Patten as the original FILTH: After introducing the poll tax and becoming tory chairman, by 1992 he was so toxic he lost his safe seat (conservative since 1931) to a lib dem (it remains lib dem — though they returned 1 tory MP, as a protest spanking for the coalition fiasco) and the Boy Blunder had to be sent abroad to be unelected governor in Hong Kong in order for him and the tories to stay in government. After returning from exile, he was sent to Northern Ireland as further punishment, before finally being sentenced to the ultimate UK’s political humiliation — their equivalent of Siberia: the European Commission.

    I always enjoy telling the Hongkongers who rave about him how he got to rule Hong Kong through a combination of a nuclear-waste level of political toxicity and abject failure. He’s basically the UK’s answer to Vagina Ip.

  6. Red Dragon says:

    Nice couple of snaps from the Traitors’ Ball.

    But hang on! What’s that light blue sash that Arselicker Wilson is wearing? The Celestial Order of the Brown Nose, Fourth Class, I suspect. Surprised that Natasha’s not in view; she usually doesn’t let the old fart out of her sight.

    Lydia looks spectacular. Never say that daily transfusions of formaldehyde and nights spent wallowing in a bath of aspic don’t do the trick.

    Can’t see Mike Thomas, however. You remember, the one whom Lydia married because he had so much on her, and the one who married Lydia because she had so much on him.

    I shouldn’t be at all surprised if they dug up Percy Craddock and Robin McLaren for the evening. I can see them now, propped up in a corner apparently engaged in some ghastly post-mortem discussion about how to sell Hong Kong down the river.

    Gruesome stuff. The air thick with the stench of treason. Makes my flesh creep.

  7. Walter De Havilland says:

    Carrie’s outfit is remarkable. That upper garment looks like a floatation device or some kind of force-field generator. Probably to ward off Vampires.

  8. Knownot says:

    Concerning two other topics this week:

    Though an insult to the living, use them instead
    To accommodate the dead.
    Kill the independence campaigners.
    Bury them in containers.

  9. Hermes says:

    @LRE – it’s rather telling, yet tragic, that this “toxic failure” generally scores much higher in the popularity stakes than any ‘elected’ HK leader since.

  10. pie-chucker says:


    This, as I suspect you know, is to wholly ignore Patten’s popularity with the people of Hong Kong over his 5-year governership. He set the tone by being the first governor to step ashore at Queens Pier in a lounge suit. He could walk the pavements/markets of Hong Kong unscheduled – traveling in a single vehicle with one discreet bodyguard.

    If not exactly a man of the people, he genuinely cared for the place. The ‘whore for a thousand years’ had our interests at heart. As did MacLehose.

    It is that connection of care that is now totally absent.

  11. dimuendo says:


    I have no time for Patten. Having conducted a quite disgraceful 1992 election campaign for the Tories, it was wonderful that he lost his seat (traditional but not really that safe in terms of majority), which resulted in him being given the consolation prize of Governor of HK. While here he noticeably did not kau tau (or however spelt), tried to improve matters but far too late (not his fault). Since then his “career” has not been bad. However I wonder how much he regrets losing his seat and being excluded from UK politics.

    PS His losing his seat is up there for me with Portillo losing his (and Thatcher being kicked out, albeit the latter not counting as by the supposedly former loyal).

  12. @Headache – I differ on this. There is only one Internet, making its name a proper noun; there are millions of telephones.

    @LRE – I believe European Commissioners enjoy a number of privileges normally denied to residents of the Gulag Archipelago. Diehard Brexiteers may regard exile to Brussels as a penance, but it has its consolations.

  13. Headache says:

    @ Old Newcomer – that is a proper conundrum. Comparable examples I can think of seem to produce mixed results when I check them on the internet (fight me!).

    Perhaps we should adopt the approach taken by the Hong Kong government in legislation, ie “INTERNET”. This avoids taking a stance whilst managing to look absurd – a perfect microcosm of its style of governance.

  14. Des Espoir says:

    Remember the statement by the late Sir John Bremridge when asked why in his budget he had put up the tax on cosmetics… “Well, it’ll take the smile right off Lydia Dunn’s face..”

  15. pie-chucker says:

    Brembridge was decisive. Recruited from the private sector (Swire) as FS he later pegged the HK to US in a serious moment of financial crisis, in one hour. 7.8 within a narrow band was and is what prevails today.

    To make Hong Kong hum, we need talent and vision. Not frightened mediocrity at the highest government levels.

    But it’s too late for that. One of the most exciting cities in the world (it seriously was) is now in the thrall of patronage.

  16. Joe Blow says:

    But wasn’t it Piers Jacobs who increased the tax on cosmetics, only to retract in a flash after the outcry ?

  17. Knownot says:

    Stephen –

    I hope you won’t mind a correction, together with what I have learnt today.

    The old-fashioned expression used by Baroness Dunn and Lord Wilson was, “Steady the Buffs!”

    “The Buffs” was the nickname of an English regiment with a buff-coloured tunic. The phrase was originally a command meaning, “Be patient, hold your fire.”

  18. LRE says:

    @Hermes, pie-chucker, dimuendo, Old Newcomer

    Points all well made (somewhat sadly for Hong Kong) — but I feel duty bound to widen the historical context every time I hear Patten looked back upon favourably, if only to remind myself of the full story surrounding his arrival.

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