Carrie’s conscientious pre-committee committee

Pro-Beijing businessman Michael Tien holds forth on Bloomberg TV, explaining that the Chinese leadership want Hong Kong restored to warm-and-cuddly peace and harmony well before National Day on October 1. He says Beijing might be cool with one or two thousand people marching on the big day, but a turnout of 100,000, however peaceful, would be unacceptable. (A million people look at their calendars and smirk.)

As just one member of Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing camp, Tien is not especially clued-in to the thinking in Zhongnanhai. Indeed, being relatively presentable and human-sounding, he is probably less trusted than many other loyalists.

Still, this suggests three options…

If the CCP really must have absolute calm in Hong Kong by mid-September, it needs to make a few concessions (like officially withdrawing the extradition bill) pretty soon. To save face, Beijing would dump the humiliation on the local administration.

Alternatively, as we are constantly reminded, China could send the troops in – but this would wreck the National Day ceremonies (and much else) far more than any number of Hongkongers on a protest.

Thirdly, they just muddle through and go back and look at it all later. This seems the obvious choice – assuming they are not totally obsessive-compulsive about the headcount at Victoria Park on October 1.

If Beijing favoured the first option – hurry up and do a climb-down – it would now be pushing Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam to stop being such an embarrassing klutz.

So, what is she up to right now?

Oh no…

She wouldn’t really set up a committee to set up the committee that will do some dialogue to resolve Hong Kong’s unrest? Would she? But of course – Carrie Lam invites ‘dozens of [old, stale, credibility-voiding] prominent figures’ to discuss how to establish her previously announced platform.

Among the worthies will be billionaire scion Henry Tang whose qualifications for the task include: nice-but-dim, into wine, former owner of an illegal luxury basement, and lost a rigged Chief Executive ‘election’. Other notables are academics, clerics, former pro-government political types, and there’s a microbiology professor. They are all ‘conscientious’ – though not objectors.

This is the Hong Kong establishment unwittingly up to its neck in self-parody – asking elite insiders to find a way to listen to the public. The solution to the problem is the problem.

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27 Responses to Carrie’s conscientious pre-committee committee

  1. Reactor #4 says:

    It’s a crying shame that the Turner Prize is restricted to British people. Otherwise, the small pile of crap the protesters painstakingly assembled up at the Yuen Long MTR station last night would, in my opinion, have been a shoe-in for this year’s award. The splashings that were made to the concourse floor garnished the thing beautifully. In fact I am convinced that this element was a deliberate homage to JMWT, who incorporated “light shimmering” into many of his signature pieces. Marvelous.

  2. Cassowary says:

    On top of this committee being comically irrelevant, the protesters smell an obvious trap. Protest leaders who have dialogues with Carrie Lam tend to end up in jail.

    This government’s boneheaded repetition of the same 2 or 3 ineffective tactics – make it the cops’ problem, clutch pearls about the economy, form a committee – over and over again don’t simply demonstrate a tragic lack of creativity. It shows that they have been reduced to window dressing. This is theatre intended to show that they are Doing Something. It will probably be used to justify a harder crackdown later. Welp, we tried talking to them. They refused. See?

  3. frequent visitor says:

    Typically a democratically elected legislature is the preferred platform for dialogue.

  4. old git says:

    The official committee line to take is exemplified here
    and one does hope that the committee members remember that a camel is a horse designed by a committee

  5. Irritated Observer says:

    As a speculative possibility, the possible surprise concessions they might be laying the ground for to buy peace could be the following.

    1) Throwing property developers to the wolves – identifying housing as the problem. Vested interests have outlived their usefulness in maintaining social stability.
    2) Throwing Carrie Lam under the bus – true surprise if it happens soon, but it might if they want a cosmetic concession that doesn’t change the political system
    3) Allowing for some sort of constrained independent inquiry

    Since they will fear insufficient impact of doing any independently, my bet is if it happens, it would be a shock and awe combination, possibly in conjunction with the China paramilitary police going in to “restore order” first.

    Making One Country, One System seem more responsive and competent than One Country, Two Systems could be their idea of making an omelette out of the broken eggs flung at them.

    All the above conditional on their really desiring minimal protests for October 1st of course. Otherwise they just wait it out.

  6. Mary Melville says:

    Has anybody published the list with their ages? Of the names mentioned so far we are looking at late 60’s to 80’s. Not only oldies, some clearly knackered.
    So many university bods, behooven to the CE for their appointments and revenue streams
    Where are those dynamic independent youth who are to lead us into a new era?

  7. Paul Curley says:

    Wake me up when Jimmy Lai is on the invitation list.

  8. A Poor Man says:

    Not sure what the microbiology professor is doing on the committee to form a committee. He was once an elected staff representative to the HKU Council, but he resigned after the students laid siege to King Arthur’s Court a few years ago. Afterwards he mumbled something about being a scientist, not a politician. Curry Lamb should have roped in his colleague, and fellow Council member Lo Chung-Mau, who went down during the storming. Perhaps his dive wasn’t convincing enough to prove his pro-government credentials.

  9. Mark Bradley says:

    So Reactor #4 is actually that NTSCMP toolbag right?

  10. Stephen says:

    Its been suggested elsewhere however one idea that may pacify some is firing Carrie (under the bus she goes) and appointing Jasper Tsang Yok-sing for the rest of her term. He’s no fool or spring chicken so, would he do it? China would have to give him the green light to tinker with constitutional reform, hold an enquiry (of sorts) and to appoint a Housing / Land Tzar who at least can talk coherently on the subject.

    Personally I think it’s a bit late in the day and businesses will have seen enough and watch those vacancy rates in commercial property shoot up. But it may give the rest us old dogs a few more years. But if i was young and ambitious I’d get the feck out of Dodge.

  11. Chinese Netizen says:

    @Mary Melville: “Where are those dynamic independent youth who are to lead us into a new era?”

    Your answer: “Considering Carrie Lam’s track record is really bad, we would never have a dialogue with her,” said spokesman Winston Yau. Yau said it is clear that protesters do not want this platform for dialogue – but for the government to meet their five core demands – including the full withdrawal of the extradition bill, an independent inquiry into police actions, and amnesty for protesters.
    “She used ‘dialogue’, I quote, to dissolve and try to capture the student leaders. But this is a leaderless and faceless movement. This is de-centralized. That is the reason that we don’t want any leaders, because we don’t want anyone to be arrested,. And we don’t want this movement shattered within one second when the leader is captured,” Yau said.
    He said Carrie Lam was simply being unrealistic if she thinks a platform can resolve the crisis.

  12. @Mark Bradley – I don’t think Reactor #4 is Adams – he doesn’t bang on about cycling and socialism, remind us of his doctorate, or regularly accuse Hemlock of being a British spy.

  13. Joe Blow says:

    The committee to appoint the committee should include at least 5 of these, otherwise it’s a no-no in my book: Bonnae Gokson, Joyce Boutique, Maria Cordeiro, Christine Loh, Pamela Pak, Kimmy Robinson, Leon Lai, Twins, some Indian guy, the G.O.D boy and/ or Dr George Adams.

  14. Reactor #4 says:

    HK’s Princess Leia is, believe it or not, playing a blinder. The protesters can be ignored: there are not enough “committeds” in the relevant part of the associated Venn diagram to give them the slightest worry. The reality is that they need to go to at least 50,000 “Vinnie Joneses” (out of 200,000 lets show them a bit of support this coming Sunday) before “the cause” starts becoming a problem. As is, 1,000-2,000 semi (and quite possibly smelly) literate hoodlums are quite ignorable if you can draw upon a police force numbering 30,000+.

  15. Cassowary says:

    What would throwing the developers to the wolves even look like and how would that not involve replacing them with more loyal Mainland developers?

  16. Red Dragon says:

    Mark Bradley

    My God! I think you’ve got it.

    Reactor#4 may well be that knackered old hack, the “Sage of Stanley”.

    Welcome back, “Doctor” G. It’s always entertaining to witness the opprobrium which your tendentious drivel attracts.

    As you used to say, “Pip Pip”.

  17. dimuendo says:

    I tried to post earlier but something on Hemlock’s system does not allow more than 3 or 4 lines, withut doubling over, on a Samsung 5.

    My point was that is CL wants to give her committee any credibility at all then, given the present protestors appear faceless and leaderless, the members must include the leaders of Occupy 2014, the deseated legislators and to represent the aged and irrelevant Benny Tai, his fellow jailbird whose name shamefully escapes me and the Reverend. This is of course assuming any of them would sit on a committee presuambly chaired by CL.

    Given Cassowary’s very pertinenet post all those mentioned who were daft enough to agree should be given written confirmations signed by CL, Theresa Cheng and the DPP that under no circumstances would they be prosecuted, not even for inciting some to incite others to have a sensible discussion.

    My thanks to Irritated Observer for his/her comment of yesterday.

  18. dimuendo says:

    May I canvass opinion.

    Is Carrie Lam acting as she is bcause

    A) She is somehow indebted to or emotionally sympathetic to oop north, perhaps in a simialr fashion to Regina;

    B) She is so authoritarian and arrogant as not to be capable of dealing with dissent;

    C) If not literally, her husband and children have been tied up in a cellar, or more cynically it put to her harm may come or her children may make a fortune in the motherland?

    Further , her husband is a British citizen, her children are reportedly so and one assumes she was . Am I correct in thinking that to be appointed CE she would be required to give up any foreign passport? If so, hopefully she will not be able to retire to live next to that other plonker, one David Camero, as was reported to be her intention.

  19. MarkLane says:

    @dimuendo “Am I correct in thinking that to be appointed CE she would be required to give up any foreign passport?”

    Yes, I think you are indeed correct. At the very least, I know for a fact that one of the former, long-time members of the Legislative Council had to give up his British passport upon appointment. (And, after leaving the Council, he immediately reinstated his British citizenship and got that passport back!)

    As for Hemlock’s analysis of the 3 paths forward with respect to Hong Kong and the forthcoming October 1st CCP Anniversary, I think there is a 4th path that Beijing has chosen to pursue (and is currently ramping up even more): economic warfare, pressuring local Hong Kong businesses to publically kowtow to Beijing, and/or outright dismiss those businesses’ employees who support or even sympathise with the protest movement.

    Their plan appears to be to force the local citizenry into submission through potential loss-of-employment, pressuring the senior level of businesses to exert downward pressure on front-line employees engaging in otherwise legal activities. Beijing really appears to have gone all-in on this tactic, most obviously with Cathay Pacific (and the pressure continues to today, as now even their Union Leader has been sacked!), all of the large Banks issuing “statements against violence”, and now calling for the MTR to take an extreme hard-line against protestors using their services. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

    All in all, Beijing is tampering quite heavily with the political independence of the city from an economic perspective, which has been one of Hong Kong’s major selling points for international businesses. This bodes extremely poorly for the city’s future.

    Given that Beijing is ramping up the pressure to levels never before seen, it suggests that Beijing really doesn’t care about killing the goose that laid the golden egg, either figuratively with this unprecedented economic pressure, or literally with a PLA invasion.

  20. Cassowary says:

    @dinuendo: I think it is safe to assume that Carrie Lam no longer does anything other than follow a script written for her somewhere in Shenzhen. Precisely why I cannot say but nobody becomes CE without being willing to follow orders without question. It’s why she was chosen over Mr. Pringles.

    The only evidence of independent thought in her is the petulant grimace she wears while going through the motions of leadership. She surely resents the orders that have led her into this cesspool, but she isn’t allowed to quit and she lacks the guts to go off-script, so she phones it in passive-aggressively, doing what she’s told, but just badly enough to show that she doesn’t care anymore.

  21. Chinese Netizen says:

    @dimuendo: She’s beholden to the shoe polish haired crew because they have her hubby and son by the short hairs. Probably confiscated their passports and allow them freedom to move about in Beijing, but that’s about it.

  22. foxtrotosca says:

    @ Joe Blow… Bonnie Gokson! As lovely as she surely is, she’s as mad as a box of frogs!

  23. Red Dragon says:

    Private Beach

    You may be right.

    On the other hand, “Doctor” G might deliberately have put his previous hobby-horses out to grass the better to disguise his current avatar.

    Perhaps we shall never know.

  24. Stanley Lieber says:


    You make a good point. Hong Kong has lots of “high society” people who are certifiably crazy but their balance sheet places them in the “eccentric” category instead of in a straight jacket where they belong.

  25. Irritated Observer says:

    Seems like a few more so-called “committeds” somebody keeps banging on about spotted this weekend. Perhaps somebody accusing them of being semi-literate hoodlums is somewhat innumerate himself?

  26. Reader says:

    @ Dimuendo
    Carrie’s grim determination to see it through is simply following the track she has long been on: keep on the right side of the establishment that nurtured her and will be there (eg as fellow retirees) when she finally bows out. That (local) network is her world, and as long it recognises her as top of its tree, she can continue to feel she made it in life. Perhaps she also covets some affinity from her current masters in Zhongnanhai, but it’s not necessary to explain her actions. To change course now would risk everything that she’s built up.

    @ MarkLane – spot on.

  27. Stanley Lieber says:


    Thanks for the perceptive psychological profile. It fits.

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