Lai See

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 February, 2012, 12:00am


Hong Kong's free media turns sham election into democratic dust-up

Hong Kong's so-called election for chief executive has gone horribly awry. We all assumed from the outset that the outcome would be 'guided', so to speak, by our central government. So we have a sham election arranged through sham functional constituencies and we have sham candidates. Henry Tang was supposed to be a shoo-in for the position while C.Y. Leung was supposed to make a good fight of it - to make it appear like a competition and provide a fig leaf of credibility, before bowing to the inevitable Tang victory. Or maybe the liaison office really did intend to sit back while the candidates went though a kind of beauty contest before giving the thumbs up to the chosen one. Neither of these candidates would have entered had they not been given the go-ahead by Beijing. So the central government, you suppose, would have done a certain amount of due diligence to ensure they were more or less OK in their eyes. This election was supposed to be an orderly process, and was surely not supposed to have turned into the kind of bloodsport we've been witnessing recently. Tang and Leung and their backers have been going at it hammer and tongs as if this was a real election. First the government, perhaps dismayed by Tang's poor showing in the opinion polls, tries to smear Leung. The civil service is supposed to remain neutral in these matters, a lesson some may have learnt to their cost should Leung win this mud fight. Then Leung's camp retaliates with what you thought should be a knockout blow, with revelations of the illegal basement which was further compounded by Tang's decision to blame his wife for the construction. Surely this wasn't part of the liaison office's script? The wretched Tang hasn't been allowed to resign, presumably to give the liaison office a bit of breathing space to attempt to recapture the initiative. Tang is now so damaged, he can't possibly be allowed to continue, much to the dismay of the tycoons who feel Tang is easier to deal with than the infinitely sharper Leung. You have to wonder what our central government was thinking when it decided to let Tang run. Even highly placed Hong Kong NPCSC delegates were saying 12 months ago that Tang had so many skeletons locked away, he could never survive the course. One element that has muddied the process has been the press. If you are trying to organise sham elections then you need a compliant press. At the rate we're going, Wukan may not be the only community in southern China that ends up having free elections.

Rich get off scot-free, as usual

We hear of strange policing in Central yesterday. A reader says that at 11.30am, there were no fewer than 15 policemen and traffic wardens conducting one of their apparently regular blitzes on jaywalkers at the junction of Pedder Street and Des Voeux Road. Meanwhile, a mere stone's throw away the tai-tais' drivers were left undisturbed in blissful peace, double-parked as usual outside Prince's Building. Why does it need a posse of 15 to deal with jaywalkers? Why can't some of this team be deployed to deal with the illegal parking, which everyone recognises is a problem? This apparent reluctance of the police to take on Hong Kong's well-heeled when they break the law is part of the process that allows those of the rich, who feel so inclined, to break the law with impunity.

HK equities take a beating from Israel

Israel has beaten Hong Kong, according to Bloomberg, which says its Riskless Return Ranking showed that the Tel Aviv TA-25 Index returned 7.6 per cent in the 10 years to February 19 after adjusting for volatility, the highest among 24 developed-nation benchmark indexes. Israel beat Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index, the next-best market, with a risk-adjusted gain of 6.7 per cent, and Norway, which had the highest total return.

Soccer boss says he's no fan of soccer

Australian mining billionaire Clive Palmer moves in mysterious ways. Aside from his four failed attempts to list his company Resourcehouse on the Hong Kong stock exchange, he has been sounding off about his A-league football club, Gold Coast United - and he's not really a soccer fan. 'I don't even like the game,' he told Brisbane's Sunday Mail newspaper. 'I think it's a hopeless game. Rugby league's a much better game.' Queensland's richest man, who has previously come under fire from Football Federation Australia and its chief executive Ben Buckley, threatened to take them to court if the organisation tries to strip him of his league licence. 'They can say what they like ... the A-League's a joke. I don't think I'll ever talk to Ben again in my life, to be honest.' Well, it's better than bottling it up, Clive. But why get involved if you feel like that?