When a summer break leads to fallout
Was our chief executive too busy to meet members of the League of Social Democrats for their views on his forthcoming policy address, or was the exclusion of party lawmaker Albert Chan Wai-yip a misunderstanding? In a statement yesterday, Chan condemned Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's office for failing to come up with a new date for a meeting after Chan returned from spending the summer out of town. Apparently he was offered August 24 or August 27, which fell during his absence. Both dates were also extended to fellow party lawmakers Leung Kwok-hung and Wong Yuk-man. The pair had rejected any meeting with Tsang. Not so with Chan, but when he returned he was treated as if he had rejected the offer. This showed Tsang was 'biased in listening only to some other parties', Chan said. Officials, after digging out the correspondence to see what went wrong, were baffled. They said that when Chan said he was not available for the two days in August, he did not mention that he still wanted to meet Tsang on his return. It has long been Tsang's practice to meet all political parties in the annual exercise.
Rising star makes a meal of it
Just as French queen Marie Antoinette coined the phrase 'Let them eat cake', reflecting her ignorance of the plight of her starving subjects, former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa was lambasted 10 years ago for his comment in asking a poor man who had not eaten for a few days to eat mooncakes. They now have a new companion. As City University's ban on construction workers taking lunch in the campus canteen sparked widespread repercussions, Tim Kwai Ting-kong asked the workers to buy meals at Festival Walk next door instead. 'Go to the mall,' the rising star of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong said. 'Or do you think the food in the university canteen is particularly tasty?' , But as a meal in the canteen costs around HK$20 while at Festival Walk it's usually HK$40 or more, one can understand why this former Civic Party renegade has become a target of attack on the internet.
November suggested for Article 23 decision
Despite recent alarm raised by pan-democrats on Beijing mulling over whether it's time to reintroduce the national security bill under Article 23 of the Basic Law, there has been no stopping the flood of mainland researchers seeking people's view on the issue. One of them, who recently met pan-democrats in Hong Kong, said the latest a decision should be made was November, otherwise it would be too late for the legislative process to be completed before the chief executive ends his second term in 2012. With or without a return of the controversy, the government has already had enough on its plate this autumn, considering last month's hostage tragedy in Manila and legislation for the constitutional reform package.
Looking for an alternative agenda
So, President Hu Jintao has become the latest state leader to back Hong Kong over the hostage tragedy. But one mainland official suggested the not-so-diplomatic moves the central government has made towards the Philippines lately were linked to another agenda. With a regional conference due soon in Vietnam, where the thorny issue of the Spratly Islands will be on the agenda, the official said Beijing would naturally want to raise the stakes against the Philippines - which is among claimants of the South China Sea islands Beijing sees as its national territory.