Howling at the moon

How much energy did Hong Kong’s pro-democrats burn up pursuing (now former) Chief Executive CY Leung’s HK$50 million UGL non-compete conflict-of-interest corruption scandal hoo-hah saga? Was it worth it?

Even if the ICAC and other authorities had wanted to nail the guy, CY was never in serious danger. However generous the sum might seem to ordinary folk, and however slimy and evil the individual, the payoff seems legit and unremarkable by oh-so fastidious business standards. It’s not CY’s fault that Hongkongers from humble backgrounds have to work their way up in the world through such tawdry professions as real-estate intermediary.

By making such a fuss about the payment and non-declaration-of-interest, the pro-dems added somewhat to the tarnishing of CY’s image, already plummeting nicely. The Holden Chow sub-plot, highlighting a pro-Beijing dimwit’s haplessness, was arguably worth some of the effort.

Of course, for two decades the pro-dems have channeled much of their determination into a fruitless fight for political reform and democracy. The ‘wolf hunt’ was a relatively minor campaign. But could they have made life harder for the government – and Beijing – by instead stirring up popular discontent on more down-to-earth issues like housing, schools and hospitals?

This is all in the past tense because the days of constitutional opposition are coming to an end. As Beijing tightens control, the Legislative Council’s powers to delay and question the government are being weakened, and loyalty tests will increasingly hinder even moderate pan-dems’ access to the forum. The irony is that, outside that formal structure, future opposition will not have the luxury of devoting time and energy to distractions like a CE’s non-compete agreements.

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5 Responses to Howling at the moon

  1. Obiter Docta SC QC WC says:

    You are wrong about CY.

    A brief about him was issued a year ago and is being studied in London.

    Carrie just has to give the go-ahead. She has so many hassles at present, she would love a distraction. She will rise like a Phoenix. Peking doesn’t give a fock about yesterday’s henchmen either. You know that.

    You heard it here first.

  2. Stephen says:

    Was it worth it ?

    Yes. In the eyes of most Hong Kongers, especially after seeing Sir Bow Tie go down, he is guilty of something and rightly reviled. Justice ? Well the wolf’s political career is over, 2014 put pay to that, and whilst China patted him on the head and gave him a position in charge of the rubber stamps, it’s scant consolation.

    I don’t know why housing, especially, is beyond the ability of the pro-dems to whip up popular discontent. You could start with CY’s pile on the Peak. Maybe it’s just not sexy enough?

  3. HillnotPeak says:

    Second canadian arrested in China, it is getting hilarious. So cowardly, if they had the guts they should have arrested some Apple executives and wait for the reaction of Trump.

  4. Paul says:

    It seems to me that one obvious route for the “wolf hunters” in the current climate is to go after UGL and their payment to Leung under the USA’s FCPA. DTZ are active in the USA which is probably enough for the US to believe they have jurisdiction on a payment between Australia and HK.

  5. Retail of Two Cities says:

    Oh the irony! There’s a huge queue of mainlanders cordoned off outside Canada Goose (“genuine Canadian winter jackets!”) in the IFC tonight.

    It seems a lot of the PRC have yet to receive the “Canada has hurt the feelings of all Chinese people” memo.

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