Just as you thought Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam couldn’t get any more out of touch, she goes off to Davos. Her arrival at the stale annual self-parody bore-fest coincides with a Moody’s kick in the teeth. It says…
The downgrade principally reflects Moody’s view that Hong Kong’s Institutions and Governance Strength is lower than previously estimated. The absence of tangible plans to address either the political or economic and social concerns of the Hong Kong population that have come to the fore in the past nine months may reflect weaker inherent institutional capacity than Moody’s had previously assessed. It may also point to more significant constraints on the autonomy of the Special Administrative Region’s (SAR) institutions than previously thought.
Put less diplomatically: it’s totally nuts that, after seven months’ civil unrest, the government of the world’s third-biggest international financial centre is sitting and doing nothing, and it seems obvious that these clowns are not really in charge. Even more nuts than previously thought.
In addition to the inevitable way-too-lengthy-and-whiny press release, we get a statement from Carrie’s deputy Matthew Cheung. He complains that Moody’s is focusing on ‘politics’ (you mean ‘stunningly incompetent leadership’, surely), and cites reduced bus fares for the elderly as proof of ‘the will to govern’.
Back in Davos, stock exchange chair Laura Cha maintains that Beijing is leaving it up to Hong Kong to solve the crisis – in other words, the local administration alone has chosen to do nothing throughout the seven months of crisis. As a former National People’s Congress member, she can hardly tell the truth.
Asked about the evil foreign forces supposedly masterminding Hong Kong’s protests, Carrie hits out at ‘disproportionate reporting’ of the city, which she says suggests ‘perhaps there is something at work’. (She is alluding to a leftist media-watchdog survey showing that Hong Kong protests get more coverage than mayhem in third-world backwaters. You are supposed to blame CIA influence rather than the fact that Haiti is not the world’s third largest financial centre.)
To cheer us all up as we prepare to greet Rat Year, Reuters’ disproportionate reporters on Davos quote an analyst at a (Hong Kong-based) consultancy…
“By summer we shall witness deeper political conflict within society, coinciding with crippling economic actions and feeding of growing disenfranchisement of working and middle classes,” said Phill Hynes, head of political risk and analysis at ISS Risk.
“2020 is not going to be the year Hong Kong heals, it will be the year it festers and becomes inflamed.”