Category: HK politics

Sea change in Taiwan, no change in Beijing

There’s a lot to like about the Taiwan election. It concluded once again without incident and resulted in the first woman president and the first complete transfer of power to an opposition party.

Taiwan_Flag_clip_art_hightThe number ‘689’ – toxic for Beijing – also made another appearance. Tsai Yingwen polled 6.89 million votes, or 56.1%; in 2012 Ma also attracted 6.89 million. ‘689’ has been CY Leung’s derisive nickname since receiving that number of votes in the 2012 CE poll.

Beijing’s response was typically guarded. Whereas Tsai praised her “admirable opponents,” China’s official statements declined to congratulate her or the Taiwan people or to make reference to the milestone of an ethnic Chinese woman being elected to high office (the last woman to lead a Chinese community was Empress Wu Zetian in the eighth century). This is routine for Beijing, though odd anywhere else. Continue reading

Lantau’s rising political star

Lantau has never bred a major political leader, but Holden Chow, a rising star in the pro-Beijing camp, could be the first. Holden

The 37-year-old DAB vice-chairman, who was elected to Tung Chung South in November District Council poll, is making a tilt at the Legco seat vacated by former Civic Party member Ronnie Tong. As SCMP puts it, the by-election “is widely seen as a showdown between the pan-democracy and pro-Beijing camps.”

Chow is also tipped to contest the LegCo ‘super seat’, likely in September, with backing from Regina Ip’s New People’s Party.

Chow, a solicitor, is often sought out by English-speaking and foreign media for his views. In an interview with the New York Times on the Hong Kong democratic reform bill last year he said China was “going her own way.”

Like it or not, this is the reality and China has to go on her own way. Also, I believe that if all of a sudden China carried out democratic elections tomorrow, that may create a lot of consequences, too. It is something that is very realistic, and I am a very pragmatic person. You have these ideals, good, but you also have to strike a balance with reality.

 

Election wash-up: Occupy was an issue, but not on Lantau

Randy Yu earned himself a profile in the SCMP last week in the wake of his Lantau election victory. It was the kind of flattering story on a pro-government figure that the SCMP seems to specialise in these days; it skipped the inconvenient fact of Yu shrinking the establishment vote by a third.

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Nonetheless it’s a worthwhile introduction to someone who will likely have an influence on Lantau issues for many years to come. Continue reading

Six years in, we don’t know when Macau bridge will open

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C.Y. Leung’s visit to Zhuhai last week confirmed what has been apparent for months – the grand project to build a bridge across the Pearl River mouth is so far off schedule no-one can say when it will be finished.

At the start of the year the 50-km bridge was slated to come into service by the end of 2016 as originally planned.

In January the government took a request to LegCo for an extra $5.46 billion, and acknowledged it was waiting on a fresh analysis from the Highways Dept to give a revised timetable.  Officials had no trouble in finding reasons for the spike in budget: the high number of construction projects, machinery costs, rising wages, the environmental assessment, the delay caused by the 2010 judicial review and the cost of the new immigration facilities.

In March the head of the Guangdong Development and Reform Commission, Li Chunhong, told the SCMP that construction, which began in December 2009, may not complete until after 2020:

 The bridge was scheduled to be completed next year, but Li said even 2020 was a difficult target because of technical difficulties in laying sections of tubes on the seabed and joining them to make a tunnel.

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Top five reasons why LegCo should reject ‘reform’

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Here’s why lawmakers should vote down the bill today.

1. It doesn’t make any difference

The bill merely codifies current practice for an enlarged voter group. If 2012 were run on the new rules we’d still have CY Leung, a crony of Beijing, vs Henry Tang, a crony of the cronies. It’s an exercise in screening out those who would put the needs of Hong Kong people ahead of the CCP and makes no difference to the governance of Hong Kong.

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Hong Kong crazy is all too clear from here

The onset of Occupy has meant outsiders have had to grapple with the crazy that lies in the shadow of our dazzling skyscrapers. Of course, CY Leung has done his best to make it clear, and no-one could accuse Regina Ip of not playing her part.

But from this far corner of the territory, we see it all too clearly: the pointless public works, the collusion with business, and the indifference to the environment and the community.

These come together in the current bout of Lantau development fever, sparked by the progress of the Macau bridge. When that HK$80 billion monument completes in 2016 it will be time for another boondoggle, and Leung and friends have their hearts set on an artificial island. To be precise they envisage reclamation in the waters between Lantau and Hong Kong to turn Hei Ling Chau and Kau Yi Chau into one large island over which we can drive from Mui Wo to Central.

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Teargas debacle sums up Hong Kong’s dysfunction

The deployment of riot police at Admiralty on Sunday is a fine illustration of Hong Kong’s malaise. The evidence is that this single decision, more than any amount of urging from Occupy or Scholarism, drove people onto the streets.

By 1am, the riot police were withdrawn. The question is: whose idea was it to put them there?

Bao Pu, the son of Bao Tong, the former secretary to Zhao Ziyang, who now lives in Hong Kong, says Beijing sources have told him police “have all sorts of plans to put down” the protests:

“Hong Kong police were prepared for the use of force; the escalating use of force is all according to the plan.”

Reportedly, Beijing authorities considered but rejected making use of Shenzhen garrison troops, but in any case under-estimated the size of the crowds. Continue reading

Democracy in action (or should that be ‘inaction’?)

LegCo building

On my last visit to LegCo the taxi driver thought it was the High Court and proceeded up the hill past the Shangri-La. He was ex-mainland, but these days you can almost understand the confusion.

This journey was to make my contribution to the waste management ‘debate’. Hong Kong citizens have the right to directly make their argument on issues to an appropriate LegCo committee, in this case the Environmental Panel (wondering: can we do this for the electoral reform bill?). I’ve been thinking about whether this is an admirable exercise in pure democracy or a complete waste of time, but I’ve had to come down in favour of the latter.

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