Many of the attendees at Witman Hung’s birthday party – including 30 or so government officials and lawmakers – do only a few hours at Penny’s Bay before being let out to finish quarantine at home. Even this slight brush with real life proves too much for some, with Junius Ho doing his online meltdown (now set to music, given new wording, and otherwise parodied and mocked).
There is some excited speculation that the Witman-gate scandal will crush Carrie Lam’s supposed dreams of ‘re-election’ to Chief Executive. This is fanciful: Beijing will appoint whoever it wants to the post, and it makes little difference who it is when Mainland officials are making the decisions behind the scenes. The CCP might stick with the dutiful and obedient masochist, or it might go for the full anti-charisma option of John Lee. Who cares?
On the other hand, Beijing must surely be concerned that the new ‘improved’ election and governance system is highlighting the respective arrogance and dimwittedness of the ‘elite’ bureaucrats and DAB lawmakers who now monopolize what passes for the political stage.
In the lead-up to 1997, we had top officials like (to pluck some from hazy memory) Anson Chan, Piers Jacobs, Libby Wong, Haider Barma, etc. They weren’t perfect, but at least they took pride in their work and – perhaps more important – in Hong Kong. Today’s ministers are clearly less competent, but also more contemptuous of public opinion (which is itself now more informed and demanding than 30 years ago).
Hong Kong’s most popular elected representatives – ranging from Eddie Chu Hoi-dick to Claudia Mo to Long Hair – are in prison, essentially for having brains, principles and ideas. The new Legislative Council now comprises nothing but ‘patriotic’ shoe-shiners with fake degrees, thuggish manners, and an embarrassing lack of smarts.
Beijing must realize this adds up to a highly visible legitimacy problem. For example…
What do mainland state-controlled media really think of HK’s new political class? Qin Feng, broadcaster once praised by Wen Jiabao: “How did idiot Witman Hung get here? I first met him 6 years ago and I hated him, slimy tongue and face of an opportunist”
(While we’re at it, try hilarious details from the personal life of Witman Hung – ‘owns three taxi licences and lots of Sunlight REIT’. Finding it rather easy to add to this establishment social-climber stereotype… Is considering Dubai and the Maldives for future classy vacations. Hired a Stanford PhD to tutor his three-year-old in algebra. Owns a Tibetan Mastiff called Bo Bo. Tried to sell his grandmother as part of an elaborate scheme to be awarded a Silver Bauhinia Medal. Asked his family’s Filipino domestic helper to come to Penny’s Bay to wash his socks.)
One solution is to just clamp down on criticism in the media (see the timid coverage of Witless-gate in the establishment press).
Thomas Kellogg on why the Hong Kong government is using ‘sedition’ charges rather than the NatSec Law. Possible reasons include…
The government may have wanted to save the courts from the embarrassment of having to endorse the notion that journalists reporting on political events in Hong Kong are in fact engaged in an effort to “overthrow or undermine” the government. The sedition provision obviates the need for such a showing…
[Judges’] consciences may be lighter in cases where journalists are quote-unquote only sentenced to months rather than years.
Meanwhile, the ‘new improved effective’ governance is failing in its most immediate challenge: to find a way out of zero-Covid. Bloomberg points out that the administration has wasted the best part of a year in getting the city fully vaccinated…
Companies from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to JPMorgan Chase & Co. are allowing employees to work from home and splitting up teams coming into the office. While avoiding Covid is a key goal, they also want to reduce the risk that workers – perhaps entire teams or floors – could be sent to the government’s dour Penny’s Bay quarantine facility.
Desire to avoid the camp … has many in the city debating how forthcoming they would be should they develop symptoms or know of an exposure.
On a brighter note, a New York-based visitor appreciates Hong Kong’s zealousness.