A raucous fanfare of barrel-bottoms being scraped heralds the announcement of Hong Kong’s new cabinet. The daunting task was to find 21 people unlikely to outshine the new Chief Executive in terms of charisma or other qualities. It seems they pulled it off!
Full line-up here (some cool English names: Horace, Algernon, Ingrid).
Carrie Lam’s stalwarts are out. The new Health Secretary is ‘falling and clutching his knee’ guy from 2015 – and a zero-Covid fan. The new Justice Secretary was ‘voted out as Bar chair’. The new Chief Secretary is yet another longtime Security Bureau guy (Immigration Dept) and was formerly chair of the local ‘Committee for Safeguarding National Security’, which reports to Beijing officials. The new Education Secretary is a Putonghua fan and former head of the patriotic teachers’ union (more on her and the new Tech-Innovation guy here). The new Commerce Secretary left the Cathay group to run Mainland-owned rival start-up Greater Bay Airlines (and is of Qing-era patriotic stock). Others have been plucked from LegCo (Alice Mak for the Home Affairs and Youth portfolio) and/or obscurity.
It’s not hard to suspect a broad common theme here: nationalism and chips on shoulders against pro-democrats, foreigners, the West, and colonial-era institutions. These people have been picked to carry out an ideological mission handed down from above. Note that the transport, housing, lands and works bureaus, which deal with key quality-of-life issues, are all going to bland technocrat civil servants – so those functions can just continue on auto-pilot. The only policies that matter are NatSec and ‘integration’.
Lan Kwai Fong landlord Allan Zeman is sorely vexed at the heavy-handed enforcement of new Covid rules in his nightlife district, including at ‘upscale’ establishment Carbone (Catbone? Dogbone? Ratbone?). As he points out, only a tiny proportion of Covid cases come from bars, so the new RAT test system for them (but not pure restaurants) is absurd. But did the fervent government loyalist expect to be immune from Hong Kong’s NatSec/Covid-era priorities and style of policing?