After delaying moves towards representative government in Hong Kong for years, Beijing is now obviously moving the city away from it. The older pan-democrats are toothless and have nothing to add to their traditional pleas-and-marches. The younger radicals scare the Communist Party, and are being hounded out of participation in what is anyway an increasingly ceremonial participatory process. Where will they go and what will they do instead?
For an in-depth look at the Agnes Chow-disqualifying Leninization of Hong Kong’s political system, see HK Free Press’s opinion piece here (parts 2 and especially 3). (If you prefer your analysis insipid and pointless, try the SCMP’s full-page thing here – the contrast is quite something.)
Beijing presumably hopes to intimidate and disillusion Hong Kong people into sullen acquiescence. But this is still not the Mainland, where the dictatorship can eliminate opposition and criticism any way it wants and sweep the mess under the carpet. Chinese officials must find it frustrating to have to confront dissent so timidly and ineffectively, rather than just crush it like they would back home.
It would help the Communist Party if its puppet Hong Kong leadership could divert the population’s attention with halfway-decent governance. The city faces a huge range of livelihood and quality-of-life issues (housing, the elderly, health, traffic, air, etc) begging to be fixed. Instead, despite vast financial resources and the world’s highest-paid civil service, Carrie Lam’s administration is clueless and inert.
There must be scope for localists like Agnes to branch out into populist rabble-rousing here. One amusing little example is what to do with the Hong Kong Golf Club course at Fanling, which is begging to be fixed as a site for housing. Critics can make the government squirm by pointing out that if it spares the golf course, it is admitting that the ‘shortage of land’ that justifies unaffordable housing is a fiction.
On the subject of real estate being wasted on the tedious and the tacky, there’s Hooters facing closure for non-payment of rent, again. And quicker than you can say #MeToo, Steve Wynn’s palatial money-churning operation in Macau finds itself in a roughly similar position. Couldn’t happen to nicer people.