Justice Secretary Teresa Cheng jumps to agree with a People’s Daily op-ed warning that Hong Kong’s legal bodies should not get ‘involved with politics’.
What does ‘politics’ mean here? The Beijing-backed paper specifically advises the Law Society not to embrace ‘anti-China’ activities or become another ‘street rat’ like the Bar Association. So ‘politics’ essentially means issuing press statements expressing concern at government measures that might infringe human rights or threaten the integrity of the legal system. When a foreign government does it it’s called ‘interference in Hong Kong’s internal affairs’. If a Hong Kong person does it by communicating with an overseas politician, it’s called ‘collusion with foreign forces’. In short: shut up (as the Bar seems to have done).
Beijing’s ‘improvements’ to Hong Kong’s elections – announced some six months back – remove opposition and indeed most popular representative elements from what was already a rigged and weak system. Among much of the inexplicable overkill is an increase in the number of Legislative Council seats through the addition of 20 (essentially appointed) lawmakers.
The whole election/assembly will be a charade but it will be interesting to see what sort of shoe-shining/patriotic dregs fill these seats and who or what they will claim to represent. They could even, in theory, be slightly amusing.
Until you find out how much the extra office space will cost taxpayers: HK$1.17 billion…
…the project is expected to get underway in mid-2022 and should be finished by mid-2025. Four storeys will be added to the existing building and a 10-storey-high structure will be built in the garden.
Because, hey – that’s what gardens are for, right?
And let’s not forget the salaries and expenses. According to this, we’re looking at a monthly salary (plus gratuity) of around HK$115,000, plus some HK$3 million a year in office and other expenses – around HK$4.4 million a year per lawmaker. (Much of the office expenses pay staffers and other hangers-on – indeed, I am among the countless thousands of people over the years who have received a monthly cheque from LegCo.)
So that’s another HK$88 million a year for 20 people (with lots of bright young assistants) with no obvious function, given that the other electoral ‘improvements’ already make LegCo into a rubber stamp anyway. I guess LegCo will also need to hire more ushers, security guards, researchers, interpreters, canteen staff, etc, etc. You would have thought an essentially ceremonial body with no legitimacy or credibility could be more economical.