HK’s 20-year secret exposed

Hong Kong reels in shock after economist Leo Goodstadt’s new book reveals that the city has been governed with unimaginably extreme ineptitude since the handover to the motherland.

The one-time policy advisor to the old colonial regime would probably not claim everything was perfect pre-1997 (his previous works do not). But he believes that, by any standards, all four administrations under Chinese rule are guilty of gross mismanagement. One reviewer thinks he might be over-doing it a bit.

Probably shouldn’t comment without reading it, but obviously I will…

Goodstadt apparently maintains that the Basic Law mandates Chief Executives to attend to local people’s welfare, and things would have been better if post-97 governments had followed this. It’s certainly true that all four CEs have had a simplistic, blinkered or clumsy idea of keeping the city ‘good for business’ – letting property interests rip off the rest of the economy while government itself sucks more wealth out through massive budget surpluses. And it’s true that they and their bureaucracies all shared a peculiar dread of future economic calamity and a phobia about social spending.

But blaming these four mediocrities (and recall near-miss Henry Tang who made the others look smart) may be beside the point.

The Chinese Communist Party chose each one of them. Despite what establishment toadies like to say, there is no shortage of suitable talent in Hong Kong. Beijing picks dullards on purpose. It doesn’t trust anyone with ideas of their own. A suspicious mind might also imagine that the CCP is not unhappy to see the city stagnate to a degree (like it punished foreigner-friendly capitalist Shanghai after 1949). Either way, the mismanagement is not some four-hapless-incompetents-in-a-row misfortune or an accident.

Which brings us neatly to some summer reading: Suzanne Pepper at HKFP on that strange new official wisdom in Hong Kong where if you say rule of law is declining you are causing it; and a reminder as Mainlandization moves on to banning groups for their opinions, that Taiwan is watching.

Not content with infiltrating New Zealand and Australia, the CCP’s United Front moves in on the USA. And a rant about the ‘narcissistic self-absorption’ of Panda-pandering overseas academics who overlook China’s human-rights horrors (why can’t they just kowtow for the money like everyone else?)

We end on a cheerful note, with Anne Stevenson-Yang on how the whole Chinese economy is a Ponzi scheme.

I declare the weekend open with a long-overdue return to Wondermark (here’s a sample for the uninitiated – it’s not for everyone).

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5 Responses to HK’s 20-year secret exposed

  1. dimuendo says:

    Suzanne Pepper’s article is well worth reading.

  2. dimuendo says:

    Please explain why it is okay for a Chief Executive to only get 12 months prison when he is convicted of misconduct in public office during the time he was Chief Executive ( contrary to what some posters say)
    As he was “only” a civil servant, how did he manage to accumulate HK$50million? Not bad going , given his accommodation, servants etc all paid for and no expenditure by him. What happened to the presumption that if you have more than your public service job permits you to have saved from pay, you deemed bent unless you can prove to the contrary?
    Ditto Rafel Hui, with his 27 months prison , for various offences, while he was Chief Secretary to Bow Tie’s being chief executive.
    How does either sentence compare to Edward Leung’s six years prison for riot?
    Donald offended somebody, and was brought down. Establishment protected him as best they could. Sharp distinction in treatment. Even as to costs. Reduced to HK1m for Donald. Note the judges repeated qualification by use of “may”. Why was Donald not required to prove his present supposedly penurious financial position?

  3. HillnotPeak says:

    The Donald (ours) looks better without hair products. Maybe he can set a trend for his bosses in Peking.

  4. reductio says:


    Correct. And if he’s so skint how come he can afford the top lawyers who I guess are not working for “no win, no fee”. And the shenanigans with the fainting fit? Just be a man and take the time. Pathetic.

  5. Joe Blow says:

    Sadky, it is perfectly normal for long time civil servants/ government officials in Hong Kong to be that rich. On the one hand they are paid absurd salaries (compared to other countries) and on the other hand they often play the property market. Even without the ‘cross ownership’ trick that most senior civil servants engage in, they are still set to get rich in the long run. To top it off, the most senior ‘servants’ enter the revolving door upon retirement and go to work for the property cartel.

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