HK govt not incompetent – just vacant

Here’s a nice video clip – Carrie Lam before the quasi-election saying she would quit as Chief Executive if the people wanted her to go. It hasn’t aged well. (Nor, in all truth, has she in that short time.) Her opinion poll approval ratings were last seen disappearing down a dark vortex.

Carrie’s administration has, for all practical purposes, been relieved of its serious decision-making governance duties (it is still allowed to manage sewerage-clearing and other municipal stuff). But, for reasons we can only guess at, Beijing is as yet unable or unwilling to hand down any further instructions.

In the absence of leadership, local government is reduced to two visible current functions, plus one remaining future one.

The first is the police, who are trying to beat and tear-gas an angry population into peaceful contentment. They are by all accounts following procedures set out in manuals written years ago, and doubling down on them when they don’t work. There is no-one to tell them to try something different. (Seriously – if they replaced riot cops with old ladies handing out ice-creams, the street violence would end instantly.)

The second is the administration’s press conferences and other activities designed to give us the impression they are in charge when they, we, everyone knows they are not. It is painful and hideous to watch. Even Carrie herself seems uncertain what she is really saying when she  ‘clarifies’ that it’s not about ‘not responding to questions’ but about ‘not accepting popular demands’. Walking obliviously into the old ‘refusal to rule out’ trap, she manages to accidentally announce imminent Sweeping Emergency Powers, from curfews to mass-arrests to an Internet shutdown.

The future function the administration has yet to perform is to be ritually decapitated by Beijing to take the blame for everything.

The point is that the ‘Hong Kong government’ has long passed the stage where it is under amazingly incompetent control – it is now on autopilot, repeating the same inanity over and over while the Chinese Communist Party puzzles or argues over what to do. From Xi Jinping’s point of view, there is no ‘win-win’. There’s not even a ‘win’.

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11 Responses to HK govt not incompetent – just vacant

  1. old git says:

    The Emergency Regulations Ordinance was made law in Hong Kong on 28 February 1922 – nearly 100 years ago. At that time Governor Stubbs was faced with internal turmoil and strikes, with the mainland not doing well either. The opium trade was still going – the Opium Ordinance 1909 regulated the trade and the Extradition Ordinance dating from British law of 1875 was also in force. It is unsurprising that Governor Stubbs needed to cover himself in handling a tricky situation. Later Governors used this law when matters were out of control and therefore, since the present Government says matters are under control……

  2. Stephen says:

    So todays threat is dusting off that hoary old colonial legislation the Emergency Regulations Ordinance. Afterall those picture of pitchfork waving troops practicing in Shenzhen came to nothing. It’s going to take more than this as the trenches have been dug fairly deep this time.

  3. coondog says:

    Maybe they are waiting for trump to be impeached in november

  4. Mark Bradley says:

    The press makes it sound like the emergency regulations ordinance suspends habeas corpus. Thoughts? My understanding is that this regulation doesn’t suspend the functions of the judiciary, and people could still try to block egregious secondary legislation on constitutional grounds similar to how people in the USA used the courts to block Trunp’s “Muslim ban”.

    But the law allows to CE to decree regulations involving “the apprehension, trial and punishment of persons offending against the regulations or against any law in force in Hong Kong, (Added 8 of 1949 s. 2. Amended 40 of 1949 s. 2; E.R. 5 of 2018)”

    So does this mean the CE can establish her own Carrie Court and become the judge, jury, and executioner?

  5. Casira says:

    @Mark Bradley: In the US the states were able to use the courts, there is no such counter-power in HK. What will you do when the CE will start removing the judges who don’t decide her way? Judicial independence requires political alternance, rule of law is long gone in HK.

  6. Bob Barker says:

    “The beatings will continue until morale improves”, the new motto of HKPD

  7. Mark Bradley says:

    “@Mark Bradley: In the US the states were able to use the courts, there is no such counter-power in HK. What will you do when the CE will start removing the judges who don’t decide her way? Judicial independence requires political alternance, rule of law is long gone in HK.”

    It’s normally possible to file such a judicial review in HK too though, but you are right the government could try to remove judges (hasn’t happened yet but could) or use many of the other dirty tricks

  8. pinko says:

    in my opinion the emergency ordinance is a red herring. will never happen.

  9. Cassowary says:

    As evidenced by the idiotic attempt to buy people off with a few thousand dollars in subsidies, our government seems to have ceded control over ordinary social policy to Beijing as a well. All they get is a bit of play money throw around once in a while.

    Or they could really be that stupid.

  10. Ironic that after all the guff about foreign interference, the government turns to laws crafted by the dastardly colonial Brits to keep democracy at bay.

  11. Curious says:

    Ahh Bob Barker beat me to the punchline

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