Hong Kong’s Chief Executive-select Carrie Lam officially launches her election Manifesto today. Even by the standards of pointless, half-hearted, vacuous platforms for rigged elections, it will be stunningly insipid. It will make a Donald Tsang Policy Address look exciting and ideas-packed by comparison.
It will be interesting to see how the press treat this classic Emperor-with-no-clothes event. Presumably most of the establishment media will feign to take it seriously. If they were honest, they would identify one theme that runs through the document – the idea that Government is the Solution not the Problem.
No-one has told Carrie that, as CE, she will no longer be a mere administrator. She clearly sees bureaucratic process as 99% of the task of solving every challenge. The Manifesto spells out very few outcomes, results, ‘deliverables’, outputs or what the public thinks of as ‘stuff’. Instead, it promises efforts by officials to enhance or strengthen cooperation, coordination, communication, etc. (You wouldn’t believe how much coordination is coming our way.) And it describes, over and again, how a task force, committee, commission, summit or other official body will be formed to consider the possibility of doing something about [whatever the problem is].
To the extent that the manifesto mentions some sort of policy action, it is noticeably on the interventionist side. Tax breaks to attract big-name foreign companies in desirable sectors (tech/innovation) to set up their regional HQs here (like Turkey or Malaysia or somewhere). More tax breaks – more like blatant subsidies – for companies that conduct the correct, trendy type of R&D. Government is repeatedly described as a ‘facilitator’ and ‘promoter’, and will send its own officials around the world to do more trade delegations, bilateral treaty-signings, free-trade agreements and economic ambassador-stuff (plus ‘Belt and Road’, of course).
Carrie has had to grovel to various Election Committee beggars for nominations. The result is tawdry promises of help for retired sportsmen, career opportunities for Chinese medicine practitioners and favours for other vested interests who will soon be spoon-fed your tax-dollars.
Least surprising of all – vague promises to diversify the economy, alongside much more enthusiastic-sounding promises to boost the very tourism industry that is squeezing other economic activities out.
That’s it for a few days – but if the above is not depressing enough, there’s this.