Hong Kong’s hapless excuse for a government is floundering half-entertainingly as it tries to bludgeon through the CCP’s Sovereign Right to Snatch Enemies System.
The parallels with the Article 23 mess in 2003 are too good to resist. Widespread and unexpected opposition, underpinned by deeper discontent. Feeble and unconvincing last-minute concessions (including a wonderfully embarrassing Joseph Lau statute of limitations). A (potentially ominous) big march (on June 9). Even the Liberal Party’s James Tien doing his naughty Manneken Pis routine on the government.
And then there’s the government officials’ own dismal performance in selling the thing.
Even for a dire threat to rights and freedoms, the initiative has been badly handled from the start. Beijing officials demand the outcome, but don’t care about the methods. Officials could have packaged and introduced it in a less hurried, less panic-stirring way. Instead, they dumped it on the table and allowed 20 days in February for (presumably straight-in-the-bin) public comments, with a stated aim to get it through the legislature pronto.
It was almost as if someone in the local power structure wanted to undermine it by not exactly trying hard to avoid a possibly alarming manner of presentation.
Yes – we usually associate the Hong Kong bureaucrat-leaders with stupidity that just looks like malice. But this isn’t the first time the local administration has treated a CCP edict with unusual clumsiness. Article 23 aside, the attempt at introducing National Education late in Chief Executive Donald Tsang’s term was a joke.
I declare the weekend open with some illuminating reading material…
It’s not just Hong Kong’s freedom going down the tubes – the quality of life is plummeting too. Did you know a single liner berthed at the cruise terminal emits as much sulphur dioxide as 25,000 diesel buses? And the government wants to dig up parks in order to cram more car parks and shopping palaces for tourists into the city. Meanwhile, Taiwan legalizes gay marriage and works out – with little apparent fuss – how to do recycling of garbage. (Not bad for a country that doesn’t even exist.)
For a quick laugh: a not very flattering profile of China’s ambassador to Canada (and an alternative view, that the guy is perhaps helping Canada out).
There are a lot of these around right now, but here’s an especially good and succinct reflection on June 4. (My own contribution is in HK Free Press soon.) In a similar lest-we-forget (or barely ever realized) vein, the role of anti-African sentiment in the run-up to Tiananmen.