The Hong Kong government’s finest minds (!) are currently working overtime exploring ways our top leadership can Connect With The Community. Unfortunately, they must operate under several constraints.
First, one of the problems about being totally cut off from public opinion is that you have no clue that you are totally cut off from public opinion. (I’m sure psychologists have a word for it. Dunning-Kruger effect?) Our senior officials must fix a problem they don’t realize they have. (They have been told they have it, and are taking pains to appear to agree – but of course they know it’s just hogwash really.)
Second, any alterations to local governance structure, process or personnel must be authorized by the Chinese government, which won’t allow any changes that in practice make administration more responsive to the population-rabble.
Third, our top officials cannot personally experience actual contact with the ‘Community’ – so talking to (eeew) people, taking public transport, sending kids to normal local schools, being on waiting lists for hospital procedures or living in a 500 sq ft apartment are soooooo out of the question I mean seriously what planet are you from?
Junior shoe-shiners already co-opted into the government’s Listening to Young Persons Committee Advisory Board Scheme are proposing a ‘Youth Parliament’. Less stomach-churning but more into voodoo-mysticism territory is an idea from another ambitious worthy for a ‘grand dialog’, like post-apartheid South Africa, to produce truth and reconciliation, of course. Be assured that the senior bureaucrats beavering away on this issue will not come up with plans this daring or realistic.
I declare the weekend open with a smattering of links…
A view from Taiwan of how the CCP has abandoned ‘One Country Two Systems’ and is gradually exercising direct control of Hong Kong.
If you can access the FT, one of the economists who encouraged and advised the Chinese Communist Party on reforms says he helped create a Frankenstein’s monster.
On the other hand, “…the China model of today no longer works, even in China. The long-term negative effect on the economy will likely be severe.”
An extract from (ex-FT) Richard McGregor’s Xi Jinping: The Backlash on how the CCP both supports and controls China’s private sector.
The brilliant Badiucao’s latest work. And where does protestor Grandma Wong get those British flags she waves at demonstrations? (Answer: under the counter.)
On the matter of “not listening”, and “insulating from the community”, more and more government departments are using the 1823 service as a “buffer” and a “filter”, so that all communications are directed via 1823, and the department officials do not actually have to have contact with the great unwashed general public. Transport Department was one of the first and the worst, with others suddenly realizing what a good idea it is and doing likewise…
Respective of Taiwan, twitter has a smattering of tweets today about a KMT candidate who is proposing to unify China using the TAIWANESE constitution… Wonder how that will work.
The Civil Service could reform itself by scrapping the Central Personality Index – leading to a vacuum into which would flow public opinion.
The ‘grand dialog’ idea (Yes, from Christine -where is my ‘Greater Bay Area’ job, ffs?- Loh is brilliant. It will instantly solve problems that are at the heart of the protests and anger in general. Problems like government/civil service/tycoons collusion, the highest property prices in the world + housing shortage, wage stagnation (except for the civil service, of course), mainlandisation, a failing school system, China tourists and the doom specter of 2047. Plus a few other things.
I’m going to enjoy your smattering of links with a can of Pocari Sweat.
Meanwhile down on the ground long suffering citizens have found a solution to unrepresentative governance. YauTsimMongers had their Rita Fan portrait moment yesterday when Chris Ip was chased out of the district council chamber. This nincompoop’s only qualification for the post of chair is that DAB ‘heavyweight’ Ip Kwok-hing is his uncle. This has secured a career path up through the ranks. Bear in mind that the post of DC Chair comes with $60,000 a month and then all the additional pocket money from various appointment and board positions. Ip has pushed for a number of plans with the goal of transferring public open space and community facilities to property developers.
Who next? Bunny Chan at Kwun Tong for pushing a $50m singing fountain in one of the poorest district in Kowloon with significant deficits in all manner of public services, like say subsidized dental treatment for elderly, etc.
If the administration refuses to provide a more representative system then citizens have no choice but to resort to guerilla tactics.
Having watched the live feed of that jolly jaunt it occurred to me that the citizenry May have struck gold here: the government’s absolute worst nightmare is having a participatory and informed citizenry. People turning up to district council meetings with press is entirely legal and massively disruptive: yesterday as a case in point — I got the sense that the meeting was cut short more because of the massive press presence rather than the actual demonstrators who were shouty but fairly well behaved (obviously without the protesters there wouldn’t be a massive press presence). The council members seemed most in fear of being revealed as they truly are: stupid, self-serving, venal sycophants getting what they can from the public gravy train.
It made me think — if every district / local council meeting was televised heavily due to the off-chance of a bit of a punch up, how long before the whole of the government was paralysed with the fear of being found out.
From Christine Loh’s dialogue proposal: “Most troubling of all for the government is that Hong Kong people might discuss the mainland as part of an organised process” – or in other words, they night want to talk about the real roots of Hong Kong’s situation, which is why her grand dialogue will never happen.
@ Des Espoir
Don’t ever bother with 1823 if you want your local government official to actually do something.
Nothing works better than calling or emailing the individual directly:
Remember just a few months ago Christine and Richard Cullen (what was he thinking?) brought out that cringe-worthy book “No Third Person.”? Just to refresh:
“This book is based on our thoughts of what a new Hong Kong story might be: a story about “us” and “you,” the people who care about Hong Kong, not an impersonal “he/she/it” story–a story, moreover, to be worked out between Hong Kong and mainland China and no one else.”
The people who care about HK (“us”) are now on the streets. They have learned they need to massively mobilize just to get noticed by “you” and then smash things up to actually get a result from “you”. How’s that for a “new story” Christine? Maybe you could put it in your 2nd edition.