And still no-one knows what a provost is

Stan-Fung

Most of us fondly recall university as an intellectually enriching while modestly debauched interlude that (perhaps) helped prepare us for real life. Yet for a few people, the campus is real life – a place they inhabit for decades and come to view as normality. Inevitably, they become institutionalized and warped. It is a world of doddering deans and raving rectors. Lecturers seethe about appointments that went to others. Department heads become obsessed with the lack of funding for Cultural Studies or work on 12-dimensional universes. Professors froth at the mouth over research grants that were denied. Feuds and resentments go on for years. Little wonder that right-thinking people back on Planet Earth have an instinctive aversion to anything to do with academia.

And so it is with extreme wariness that we consider the events last night at Hong Kong U, because on the face of it, it’s all about provosts and pro-vice chancellors and other tiresomeness.

The headline story is that, like noble counterparts down the centuries, students protested, specifically by storming the University Council. Someone climbed on a table. Someone else fell over. Council Chairman Leong Che-hung – last heard of back in the 1990s – ended up Stan-chaosdoing some sort of livestreamed late-night teach-in/debate with delightfully stroppy kids in T-shirts, while podgy middle-aged men in suits looked on, and cops hung around outside.

It looks like youthful idealism versus pompous and arrogant has-beens. On the surface, a semi-obscure academic is in line for appointment to a particular position in the university hierarchy, and the Council is delaying things because they want to fill another position first, though no-one seems to know why. The students protest because… students do.

But of course it’s more than that. The Chinese Communist Party is still sorely freaking out about the Occupy/civil disobedience concept that emerged from HKU nearly a couple of years back. The academic up for promotion, Johannes Chan, is a buddy of the pro-democracy theorist and fellow Professor Benny Tai. While we’re all supposed to be ‘moving on’ and ‘focusing on the economy’, China’s locally based officials cannot let go, and the intimidation, smearing and vindictiveness against the Occupy movement must continue. Beijing and local officials have essentially told government-appointed members of the Council to delay Chan’s appointment.

This political interference in yawn-inducing academic affairs is just one incident of United Front manipulation and bullying. It is not just an act of revenge against participants in Occupy (which would simply be childish), but part of an attempt to instill a climate of fear and obedience. It has already affected Hong Kong institutions from the media to the police complaints system. Next, it could be subverting the courts. This goes beyond students or HKU alumni, or even Hong Kong’s broader pro-democracy camp.

In this case, pro-government stooges have to publicly comply with the Liaison Office’s instructions. For those who are academics themselves, maybe there are research grants and appointments for themselves at stake – best collapse and leave in an ambulance. Some, like Arthur Li, seem to relish annoying students and opposition. Leong Che-hung, staying and letting students heckle him, may be struggling. So this is not about ivory towers but the real world.

For context, let’s put ourselves in the Communist Party’s shoes. To Beijing’s officials, the Occupy civil-disobedience idea was not some cuddly, non-violent, Martin Luther King-inspired, idealistic and perhaps silly bit of grandstanding. Benny Tai’s methodology of focus groups, planning, and outreach sessions leading to ‘disobedience’ looked like an organized challenge to authority, thus the government – and scalable and movable and potentially replicable across the border in the Mainland. For the one-party state too, this is a fight for core values and survival.

CD-studentsstorm

One headline, two papers

Posted in Blog | 8 Comments

Logo with no panda unveiled

China unveils the logo for the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Victory of the Chinese People’s War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War. Obviously, a large committee wrangled over it for weeks…

70thLogo

…leaving us with some mightily over-wrought symbolism. The Xinhua report says that the V-shaped Great Wall represents not only the victory but the unity of the Chinese nation. A wall is an unusual symbol of unity, and it sounds like a last-minute addition to the list of underlying messages that had to be crammed into the design. The doves bear an even greater burden in this respect:

The five pigeons demonstrate the memory of history and the aspiration for peace, representing people from the five continents united and moving together towards a beautiful future after going through “bloods [sic] and fire.”

But wait – the poor birds aren’t finished:

The doves also symbolize the Chinese people … flying to a future of great rejuvenation under the leadership of the Communist Party of China…

They could have said the bold red colour of the ‘70’ represents the rejuvenation Communist blah-blah – thus leaving the doves to signify only the nice cuddly brotherhood-of-man stuff – but maybe that was too goes-without-saying, and the Party wanted more.

The logo is busy in terms of symbolism because the anniversary itself has to convey multiple meanings. The event, including a military parade in Beijing, has to stress the Chinese victimhood thing, and the Communist Party-to-the-nation’s-rescue thing. But it also has to lay on a specifically anti-Japanese message, while paying lip-service to future international cooperation and peace. Given the Communist Party’s difficulties in calibrating finesse and good grace, Western countries will apparently downplay their presence at the celebrations.

The Xinhua story says that the graphic may not be used for commercial purposes. It’s unlikely that anyone would want a Chinese-logo T-shirt without the usual friendly smiling panda bear. And the red-and-yellow colour scheme is a turnoff, with the Leninist, Maoist and other sinister connotations. As the alternatives below show, even with its plodding grim symbolism, the design could have been jazzed up for extra ‘soft power’ and all-round coolness. That said, perhaps with Hong Kong’s forthcoming September 3 Victory over Japan public holiday in mind, it would make a good label for a beer bottle…

70thColors

A nagging thought… Is there a piece of shadow missing from the inside of the zero in the ‘70’ (as corrected on the right)?

70th-shadow

These things irritate me.

Posted in Blog | 16 Comments

Briefly…

MP-TinShui

An 84-year-old dies of starvation in Tin Shui Wai. The South China Morning Post quotes experts as ‘suspecting’ that needs of the elderly are being neglected. This suggests they can’t rule out the possibility that the old guy starved to death without being neglected. Or maybe the situation is confused by further ‘suspicions’ that some aged are being neglected but nonetheless do not starve. No doubt they will sort it all out.

 

Posted in Blog | 10 Comments

Dentist gets in our face

Roughly once a week, someone sticks up a poster featuring the apparently 15-year-old Dr Vienna Lau next to the front door of my building – and no doubt others in the neighbourhood. Within the day, it is removed. The valiant lady is now stuffing her publicity materials into everyone’s mail box…

Vienna1

A quick Google search reveals that she is a dentist. But she is not advertising her medical services – just herself. By her own admission she is known for her ‘charisma, willpower and ample compassion’…

Vienna2

And she is seriously into Central. In fact, rather too into Central, claiming to spend time ‘promoting’ the area…

Vienna3

…when all it really wants is to be left alone, with commuting office workers returning to their suburbs swiftly and promptly every afternoon, and hordes of Korean and other selfie-stick-clutching tourists keeping well away.

The leaflets feature a map of the area, in which she strictly (and quite rightly) excludes the surrounding districts like Sheung Wan, Mid-Levels and Admiralty. Anywhere up the hill from Caine Road or east of City Hall – forget it. She also recommends a list of restaurants, which it has to be said is a rather clichéd guidebook selection, including the inevitable Yung Kee roast goose place and the local branch of no-frills Tsui Wah.

What – if Dr Vienna is not offering to look after our teeth – is all this for? Although she isn’t labouring the point (yet), she clearly intends to run for District Council in the coming election, which is in November. She will be up against some equally fresh-faced and energetic pro-democracy candidates and, in my ward, the slimy pro-Beijing guy who masquerades as an Independent because it’s the only way he can get the classy sort of residents we have around here to vote for him.

I declare the weekend open with a bit of friendly advice for the Financial Times, now being bought by Nikkei, which is apparently prone to self-censorship in deferential Japanese fashion. Indeed, this goes for all the overseas media in town…

FT-HKLaw1

For the umpteenth time, you correspondent people: 1) Hong Kong’s Election/Nomination Committee is a mere rubber stamp – the outcome is decided in advance by Beijing; 2) being drawn from cartel owners, ‘Agriculture and Fisheries’ and assorted New Territories ‘Societies of Associations’, it does not comprise any sort of elite. Unlike Central…

Vienna4

Posted in Blog | 13 Comments

‘Spies in casinos’ shock

Stan-BeijingFeared

So far as casual observers can see, China’s leadership has had three reservations about Macau’s post-1999 Mainlander-oriented gambling industry.

First is that access to the casinos facilitates and encourages moral lapses among Chinese officials, by giving corrupt individuals the means to launder dirty cash and by tempting them to acquire illicit funds with which to gamble. (Interesting how Macau gambling and Mainland corruption stimulate each other.)

Second is simply a mercantilist concern about the currency outflow and the feeling that this is money that could stay in the Mainland and benefit local economies. (Hence occasional calls for casinos to be legalized in Hainan and other provinces.)

Third is nationalistic resentment at the way American casino operators scoop up much of the profits. The Hong Kong and other ethnic Chinese gambling/hotel interests have obvious reasons to encourage this sentiment. And bearing that in mind…

A fourth now comes to light: fears that American-owned casinos serve as fronts for US influence in Macau, and host CIA agents who target Mainland officials for blackmail. The Standard has a quick summary here; EJ has a fuller one.  The story itself is in the Guardian, which managed to obtain a document submitted as part of an unfair dismissal case in Nevada against casino operator Sands. The document was a report commissioned by Sands to investigate possible political problems the company was facing as it tried to expand in Macau. The Guardian presents the Vickers Report, as it is known, here.

VickersMac1

The report dates from 2010, before Xi Jinping’s rise to the top and the launch of the anti-corruption campaign that has hit the Macau gambling sector quite hard. Much of it covers the background of Macau Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai-on (rich family, trusted by Communist Party, etc). But it also suggests that Beijing viewed Sands in particular as pretty much intertwined with US government interests.

The suspicions about the CIA are not very surprising: casinos probably offer spooks excellent ‘asset-recruitment’ opportunities. What is more telling is the apparently instinctive paranoia among Chinese officials about foreigners and their motives. If the report is accurate, they see the US government and US companies as indistinguishable in terms of national security risk. In other words, Sands’ lust for more market share and more profit was interpreted in Beijing as an attempt by Washington to undermine Chinese sovereignty in Macau. This was five years ago under Hu Jintao; it can only be worse now.

VickersMac2

Of course, Macau’s local casino owners would have a big interest in encouraging this sort of paranoia among Chinese officials. The report seems to conclude with mention of aging mogul Stanley Ho, but, disappointingly, that last page is blacked out. However, the investigative agency that wrote it, Hong Kong-based Steve Vickers Associates, have recently mentioned that nationalism could affect prospects for foreign-owned casinos in Macau.

VickersMac3

The other noteworthy thing about the report is a linguistic quirk. Where most of us would write ‘Bob bent over to tie his shoelaces’, the report says ‘Bob bent over; this to tie his shoelaces’. If it was just once, we wouldn’t notice – but this curious construction appears on nearly every page.

As it happens, Sands boss Sheldon Adelson and President Obama are not best buddies, but that’s probably by the by.

JamesBondCasino

Posted in Blog | 13 Comments

Hitherto unnoticed men leave scene

Hong Kong is not in shock exactly, but it is raising a semi-curious eyebrow. For the first time in their government careers, Home Affairs Secretary Tsang Tak-shing and Civil Service SCMP-2ministersSecretary Paul Tang have come to the public’s attention in a big way. And they have done it by resigning.

Were they pushed or did they jump? In some ways it is an academic question: to be defenestrated from the CY Leung administration must be merciful relief in itself. In their euphoria at having exited, the two men may not even know for sure, and certainly don’t care. Tsang’s bizarre statement reads like he was drugged and, being told at gunpoint to write a resignation letter, scribbled ‘Outta here!’ with a deranged laugh. (Tang, a lifelong bureaucrat, regales us with ‘time with family’ bilge.)

The official rumour is that they were fired for their poor performance over the Umbrella Revolution. Tsang failed to prevent the city’s youth from coming under the sway of the hostile foreign forces behind the Occupy movement, while Tang was negligent in keeping the civil service onside. (You may not have noticed the avid support among bureaucrats for the pro-democracy uprising, but you didn’t exactly see them opposing it did you? The Communist Party detects such things.)

When such a rumour appears so effortlessly everywhere in the press, we can take it with a pinch of salt. Perhaps Beijing’s locally based fixers are using the cabinet reshuffle as an opportunity to remind new and existing ministers that they are expected to run Hong Kong like the Mainland cadres control Tibet or Xinjiang.

Tang and his role as Civil Service boss is too boring to bother with. Tsang, on the other hand, is an intriguing person – a true devout believer in the Communist faith. He is one of few people in Hong Kong who (leaving aside any possible factional struggles) could talk as some sort of equal to comrades at the Liaison Office. If they told him to round up and brainwash every geeky pro-democracy schoolkid in town, and he said it was a dumb idea, they would probably accept it. He would also be honoured to be the subject of an official rumour that he had been fired for incompetence. Being kicked in the teeth by the Party is the ultimate pleasure for these people.

CY is replacing Tsang with Lau Kong-wah, one of the most pilloried and pitiful specimens you could hope for. (Typically, the pro-democrats go into a huff about how Lau might use his new position against them in November’s District Council elections. The correct response would be to cackle manically in glee.) This appointment would have required Beijing’s blessing. Indeed, it may be Beijing’s sick and cruel way to increase CY’s unpopularity in preparation for the time when they toss him aside. Seems superfluous, but the only other explanation is that in their paranoia they only feel safe entrusting the inconsequential Home Affairs portfolio to the most pathetic and easily stomped-on loser they can find.

Lau comes complete with his very own well-established, instantly recognizable meme, in which he peers out of a garbage bin. Observers of online-parody fads probably thought this jolly visual concept, with its many amusing variations and artistic/theatrical possibilities, had peaked during Occupy (when he sat dumbstruck during a debate with a group of the aforementioned schoolkids). Instead, to our delight, it has only just started.

Lau-KongWahBin

Posted in Blog | 11 Comments

Gastronomic update

We have all heard of the Fountains of Rome and the Bridges of Paris – how about the Drainpipes of Soho?

These ancient features of the urban landscape take on a new vibrancy when the tacky overpriced restaurant next door closes. And in Soho right now the closures are many. The three recent departures shown below are all just a few yards from one another.

They are, from top down: A) Cecconi’s (residents never did work out how to pronounce it); B) whatever this one was before (I’ve reported the sidewalk obstruction to the government Efficiency Unit’s TellMe@1823, but of course no action); and C) the dismally named Smokey Joe’s BBQ Shack…

Soho-Drainpipes

As B) shows, and all will find out, in Soho no-one remembers you were ever there within minutes of your signage coming down.

The fate of Smokey Joe’s is a tribute to the vengeful wrath of the Gods of Cuisine. It couldn’t have been open more than a year or two. And it warms the heart to see the failure of such a corny, shallow, tawdry concept-theme, even by the standards of the neighbourhood’s depressing cookie-cutter concept-themes. (Yes, it had a massive flat-screen TV showing sports, how did you guess?)

As well as being unclear about how to pronounce the restaurants’ pretentious names, the local inhabitants have no real idea what the food is like in them. All we need to know is that the rents are so high that a large chunk of the money you pay for a meal goes to the landlord, so why bother? Value for money is an economic impossibility – even when tiny tables are crammed so close together that diners’ elbows clash. So for example, at Soho Spice (to the left of B) above) the menu says you pay HK$92 for pad thai, and after mineral water and service charge I would guess it comes to HK$150, and the food looks like a deformed crab fighting with a bunch of bean shoots and losing…

SohoSpice1

(I guess the food-porn photo features something other than the pad thai, by the way.)

Just minutes away, the secret old place we keep to ourselves serves up a pile of tasty Singapore noodles (seen here with the black pepper beef spaghetti) plus a huge free glass of ice lemon tea for HK$36, with trendy square plates, a fish tank, authentic 70s retro ambience and tons of space to relax…

Soho-TsaiSing

In fairness, these are the afternoon Tea Set prices; add 10 bucks or so in the evening when they get seriously exotic with such classic quasi-Macanese-Euro-Canto delights as baked coconut chicken. This is the original ‘fusion’.

Presumably, the three recent departures from the one small stretch of Soho shown above were all due to rent hikes. It’s hard to believe that landlords are still trying to squeeze more out of tenants when the whole wretched luxury-exclusive-Burberry-tourism thing seems to have peaked. It’s even harder to believe that tenants are dumb enough to pay, assuming they are.

It will be interesting to see what businesses, if any, take the newly shuttered spaces. Most likely they will be yet more clichéd concept-themed restaurants lining up for the slaughter – though purveyors of grotesque furniture for the trashy nouveau riche have been setting up in the neighbourhood recently. This one is round the corner…

Soho-furn

…and unwittingly portends Hong Kong’s tragic decline into the ranks of soulless, tawdry, loser cities.

This interior furnishings trend suggests that more of the internationally mobile elite moneyed braindead are moving into the area, which in turn suggests continued demand for fake high-class cuisine, thus more indistinguishable, pokey, overpriced, oh-so-high-class eating places before long.

In the meantime, the drainpipes positively glow.

This just in: the HK government Efficiency Unit as envisaged by Quentin Tarantino…

EfficiencyUnit

Posted in Blog | 16 Comments

Front-page weirdness

Barely enough time today for a quick flick-through of the South China Morning Post, but a couple of things jump out.

SCMP-BeijingHas

First is this peculiar report on a paper by a hitherto unheard-of financial think-tanky-thing called OMFIF. Although you wouldn’t know it from its website, OMFIF has – according to the SCMP – just published a report drawing parallels between the founding of the International Monetary Fund over 70 years ago and global affairs today. Specifically, the Chinese expected a major role in the world’s financial system in 1944 (sending a big delegation to Bretton Woods), and they do in 2015 (hence the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, BRICS investment fund, constant Yuan-blather, etc).

A humungous shrug is in order, we might think. However, the SCMP story makes for a very bizarre read. Not once is there any mention of the obvious fact that we are talking about two different ‘Chinas’ here. It was the Republic of China of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek and the Kuomintang that attended the Bretton Woods talks and other conferences preparing for the post-war world (like the Dumbarton Oaks gathering that led to the United Nations). The People’s Republic of China replaced the ROC in the UN in 1971 and didn’t join the IMF until 1980. But the SCMP report implies a seamless SCMP-ChinasAmbitionscontinuum in which a single entity called ‘China’ has been striving all along for a suitably prominent place in the world order.

Of course, no-one pretends that the PRC existed prior to 1949. And the ROC-in-1944/PRC-in-2015 parallels may be real (dare we guess the China-as-victim theme appears somehow?) if you like that kind of thing (good source here). It’s just slightly weird that this item avoids all reference to a core relevant historical fact. With the 70th anniversary of the Japanese surrender approaching, it will be interesting to see how the SCMP handles the ROC’s unavoidable part in the events of the time, and of course the Communist forces’ apparently/arguably/allegedly rather modest military contribution to the anti-fascist struggle.

(What’s seriously weird is that that this obscure piece of ‘news’ gets lengthy, not to say repetitive, front-page treatment in the first place. We can only guess. To counterbalance Beijing’s latest self-mutilation – the round-up and extraction of forced confessions from lawyers?)

Among modern China’s efforts to exert or at least prove global greatness is the oddly named and unfathomable ‘One Belt One Road’ initiative. It seems to be something about how the Chinese government thinks the world needs such hardware as a Kazakhstan-Berlin-via-Africa high-speed rail link, and would like to help finance and build it, all out of the kindness of its heart, and Hong Kong’s young people will enjoy so many opportunities from this that they will be able to afford homes. Behold the Conference from Hell…

SCMP-OneBelt

Interestingly, there is no mention of who is organizing or sponsoring the thing, nor – to our great distress – any details of how to book a seat.

Posted in Blog | 8 Comments

At the WEF, the hallucinogenic drugs kick in

The South China Morning Post gets caught rewriting headlines to give an anti-Hongkonger spin for its Chinese online edition aimed at simplified Mainlanders….

Tw-SCMP-Heads

Presumably a plain everyday pro-Beijing angle isn’t good enough over the border; only malice will do. Maybe the paper will translate ‘HK government ranked world’s fourth most efficient’ as ‘HK ranked useless pile of crap compared with other places’…

SCMP-CitysGov

It has to be said that this is a decidedly strange story. The World Economic Forum is, like FIFA or the International Olympic Scamsters Federation, one of those murky-underbelly-of-Switzerland oligarchies that strut around importantly while the rest of us are supposed to grovel in deep admiration. It has come up with that space-filling curse of the modern media – a grand list of things ranked in order of wonderfulness according to our very own wacko secret-family-recipe objective criteria. The WEF are listing countries/territories in order of efficient government.

To much of the world, the ‘lede’ (as we media jargon experts call it) is that Qatar, oil-rich autocracy, is number one. The feeling seems to be that, if some despotic Wahhabi-financing sheikdom that must have bribed the aforementioned FIFA to host the World Cup and lets hundreds of Nepalese workers die on construction sites can be number-one, what diabolical savagery are places not even in the top 10, say Denmark or Canada, up to?

To us in Hong Kong, we take high rankings in our stride and in a spirit of good humour. If being World’s Freest Economy, for example, means having the planet’s most over-priced housing/wealthiest property tycoons, we can only laugh and say that if this your idea of freedom, you can shove it.

We would note that of the WEF’s top 10, six are essentially city-state money-laundering SCMP-CitysGov2tax-haven places, which I have helpfully marked with a red spot on the SCMP’s table. (I’m including oil-shiekdoms Qatar and UAE in this category, because they are up to their ears in that sort of thing, plus Switzerland, which is more ‘Alps and cuckoo-clocks’ than ‘city-state’ but otherwise fits the bill.) Another two, Finland and New Zealand, are inoffensive, healthy, clean, outdoorsy, blond, heavily wooded, underpopulated, meat-eating democracies famed, we have no doubt, for highly efficient government, marked with helpful green spots.

This leaves two other places. One that rather jumps out is plucky little Rwanda, in Africa, known especially for its mist-shrouded gorillas. We are vaguely aware that it has attracted praise for bouncing back from its unspeakable time of genocide. It vaccinates more kids than Seattle, for what that’s worth. Among other reforms, it has scrapped French in favour of English – which alone surely qualifies as efficient.

The other is Malaysia. This is where we in Hong Kong and the rest of Asia have to ask WEF – WTF? We all like Malaysia for its scenery, for its architecture and – well, mostly, if we’re to be honest – its food. In culinary terms, Malaysia is paradise, the pinnacle of its cuisine perhaps being the hybrid Nonya cooking of the Peranakan, or Straits Chinese. Some of the most amazing eating I have ever had has been piled up on a banana leaf at a plastic table in an open-air street-side tent, for a few bucks.

But this is a ranking about efficient government, not nasi lemak. Let’s leave aside some Malaysian people’s insistence that NASA’s New Horizons probe cannot have reached Pluto because the sky is made of seven layers guarded by angels who do not eat (tragic!) or sleep. Let’s overlook some Malaysian people’s mouth-frothing over a wombat as an offence to Islam during Ramadan. We’ll assume that a partly cretinous populace and highly efficient government are not mutually exclusive. Let’s not even get too bogged down in unanswered questions about the 1MDB fund. Just check out Asia Sentinel and peruse one of the best recent surveys of Malaysia’s development over the decades, which could be titled ‘How to Screw Up a Potentially Great Country’, but is in fact called ‘How Malaysia Became a Kleptocracy’. Maybe the WEF is open-minded about the many ways a government can be ‘efficient’.

I declare the weekend open with a couple of interesting thoughts from the Washington Post and the New Yorker

WaPoWater

Posted in Blog | 10 Comments

Post-reform Dems’ new lease on life?

When it comes to the dull gray, heavy metal lead, the Hong Kong government’s political opponents are – shall we say – in their element. The Democratic Party, which first exposed traces of the cumulative poison in water supplies, is demanding that the authorities test more and more public housing estates and, now, private-sector developments. The Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood is also joining in. And the Neo-Democrats, seeing how easy it is to get samples analyzed, are uncovering more cases.

Officials are scrambling to keep up. They would love to dismiss the whole thing as scaremongering. If they enjoyed more trust they would be able to reassure the community Stan-TestBidby calmly explaining the apparently low level of contamination in terms of international health standards. But there is an underlying public mood – going back to SARS and various tainted-food scandals – that dangers lurk everywhere, and a nagging suspicion that this administration would not be above colluding with Mainland interests to cover them up. The government cannot run the risk of appearing callous and so must be seen to respond promptly and gravely to the pro-democrats’ every complaint.

The ruling powers are in a difficult position. Beijing’s local officials require the loyalist DAB and FTU groups to back the Hong Kong government – so joining in the clamour about death in every drop of water is a no-no. On the other hand, these patriotic fronts are the Communist Party’s main electoral weapons against the evil, hostile, foreign-backed, pro-democracy camp. They need to appear at least partly independent of the unpopular and inept administration to keep their vote up in forthcoming District and (next year) Legislative Council polls.

Maybe the pro-Beijing forces will manage to finesse the Poisoned Water Horror. But this could be just the beginning of a new sort of struggle. The banishment of political reform as an issue could leave the mainstream pro-dems redundant, bleating endlessly to themselves about arcane electoral structures. But it could actually be liberating. There are so many bad and wrong things they can use to hurt the government with. The pro-dems won’t agree on every anti-establishment, progressive or trendy cause. They won’t – and shouldn’t try to – protest every over-greedy tycoon, every pepper-sprayed student, every migrant worker injustice, every elder denied timely medical care, every family in a subdivided flat or every endangered dolphin or country park enclave. They just need to pick one or two high-profile cases, big or small, that most residents will agree on, as they come along. Which they will. There will never be a shortage.

Here’s a mouth-watering one on a plate: the old free bicycle repairman being prosecuted for illegal hawking. Proof that the gods are pan-dems.Stan-SupportRolls

Posted in Blog | 7 Comments