Political Animal

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 October, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 October, 2009, 12:00am

How Audrey Eu had a change of appetite

Why did the Civic Party leadership change its mind about opposing the League of Social Democrats' plan for a 'de facto referendum' on political reform? Publicly it's still a mystery, but according to those in the know it could be described as a 'tale of two dinners'. As one person involved in the discussions tells it, the change resulted from a change of heart by party leader Audrey Eu Yuet-mee just before the party announced it supported the plan. At the first dinner, early one week in August, Eu was still trying to persuade other pan-democrats that the referendum was a bad idea. Later in the week Eu, in turn, was subjected to lobbying by other, seemingly more influential, politicians at another dinner. The party then went off to a retreat at which, according to another member, Eu first aligned herself with opponents of the plan. But by the next morning she had changed her mind and decided to push ahead with the party's 'three-stage plan', which includes the referendum. 'When the party leader says something, the party very rarely does the contrary,' said this member, adding that while reservations remained, party members supported the decision. Who were the influential people at the second dinner? No one is saying. But winning over Eu was just part of the battle; the rest hinges on the Democratic Party's stance, which will be decided next month.

Beijing loyalist reveals gulf with Marx

As a Beijing loyalist with membership of both the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong and the Federation of Trade Unions, Wong Kwok-hing has no hesitation in vowing his faith in Karl Marx, the father of communism. As Legco was discussing the shortage of urn storage places yesterday, the lawmaker suddenly put up this private question for health chief Dr York Chow Yat-ngok: 'Can you pledge that when you go to see God one day, your ashes will be disposed of in the alternative ways the government is promoting? I can pledge here that my ashes will be disposed of in the sea when I go to see Marx.' Chow showed more knowledge about Marx than Wong. 'As far as I understand, Marx was buried in a cemetery in London,' the minister replied, adding that he wanted to be cremated when he died.

Officials take dim view of light-bulb episode

Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's move to promote energy-saving light bulbs might have taken his elder son's father-in-law, whose light-bulb business is set to benefit from the initiative, by surprise. But Anthony Mok Kam-chuen has apparently surprised government officials with a strongly worded statement in which he denied being a willing recipient of any transfer of interest. Before his statement appeared in newspapers yesterday, officials had hoped the row would fizzle out. 'Give us a break, please,' one official said on Monday, when it was suggested that Mok should 'come clean'.

Kam Nai-wai scandal slips into the shadows

Lawmakers were swift to mount an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment against Democrat Kam Nai-wai by his former assistant after dozens of complaints to the legislature. The eight complaints, however, received over Donald Tsang's 'light-bulb-gate' have received less of an enthusiastic response. 'We really have to look at the merits before investigating,' said Ip Kwok-him of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, who will be one of the legislators fielding public complaints next week. But the Democratic Party leadership seems relieved that Kam's scandal has been overshadowed. 'Thank God the media have moved on to Donald Tsang's scandal,' one Democrat said.