Political Animal

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 March, 2008, 12:00am

At RTHK, the drama never stops

It was supposedly a side-show to the long-running drama over the fate of Radio Television Hong Kong. But as the battle over the replacement for RTHK's disgraced head Chu Pui-hing unfolded, it proved quite dramatic, if not farcical. First, the unusual move by the government to lower the academic qualification for aspirants after failing to fill the job in the first round sparked criticism that it was tailor-made for a government-blessed candidate, Robert Chow Yung.

Then the journalist-turned-businessman-cum-talk-show host hit headlines last week when he struck back at criticism of the government's decision not to require a university degree - which he lacks - fuelling speculation about his intentions. Now Political Animal has reliably learned he decided to make his high-profile move to seek the job after being told by some RTHK colleagues he had better come clean as early as possible if he had set his eyes on the top post. Why he chose such a combative approach, however, is still a mystery. More intriguingly still, according to another source the applicants who threw their hats in for the first round have not yet been formally told they have failed to pass muster. The RTHK drama never stops.

Pragmatism found, now for the progress

When even the chief executive has a catch-phrase for his election campaign - 'I'll get the job done' - a political party without a similarly catchy slogan is at risk of lagging behind. Having suffered unexpected setbacks in November's District Council elections, even in its traditional stronghold in Kowloon West, the Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood's (ADPL) has now come up with a catch-phrase: Progressive Pragmatism.

ADPL lawmaker Frederick Fung Kin-kee said that while its principles had not changed, the party had concluded it sorely needed to thrust its stance on issues to the forefront, and not merely be lumped as 'one of the pan-democrats'. Anything with 'pragmatic' in it is bound to throw up suspicions that the already moderate democrats are flirting even more with pro-establishment forces, but Mr Fung stressed it was not 'doing a Lau Chin-shek' and going silent on democracy..

Acting ADPL chairman Bruce Liu Sing-lee noted that 'Shek' in the unionist-legislator's name sounded like the word for 'stone'. 'We don't want to turn into stone. The whole point is that we want to progress. We are definitely not doing a Lau Chin-shek.'

Roll call on in earnest for the new boys

Though there is still about a month to go before the first of the government's new undersecretaries and political assistants start beavering away at their shiny new desks, their names have already been widely discussed on newspapers. Liberal Party lawmaker Howard Young, whose younger son, Jeremy, has been tipped as one of the political appointees, talked about his son's candidacy yesterday. He said Jeremy, as a senior manager of a logistics company, was enjoying a good job and might not be able to leave his position as early as April to join the fun. But given that the government already has said the appointees could start working at different times, we can still expect the younger Mr Young to join the cabinet. Party chief James Tien Pei-chun said Liberal nominees had been interviewed for the positions recently.