A couple of changes that could be good for local politics
Michael Tien Puk-sun may turn out to be an effective lawmaker should he cast off the shackles of his party, while Julian Law Wing-chung has the social media skills the chief executive-elect needs
There are no permanent friends or enemies in politics. There is perhaps no better illustration of that than in Hong Kong at the moment.
Julian Law Wing-chung, the social media guru behind defeated chief executive candidate John Tsang Chun-wah, may be joining Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor in her new government.
Meanwhile, it’s been an open secret that Michael Tien Puk-sun, vice-chairman of the New People’s Party, is literally not on speaking terms with party boss Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, and may quit the party as early as next week.
Tien has made it known for a while now that he thinks the party is losing credibility because Ip has been too close to the government. But if his quitting is indeed imminent, he has been a good sport, having waited until Ip dropped out of the chief executive race. Now that it’s over, no one can fault him for leaving.
At one point, Tien said he and Ip rarely talked anymore because both were “very busy”. He is certainly not a man without grievances.
Last October, when he tried to run for the president of the Legislative Council, Ip blew him off, supporting instead Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen, the preferred choice of the pro-government camp.
As it turns out, Leung is completely out of his depth. Tien, or anyone else for that matter, would have made a better Legco president.
As for Law, his media campaign for Tsang has been universally praised, even by Lam herself. Having been credited with helping to make Tsang a far more popular candidate than Lam, the chief executive-elect could really use some of his social media skills.
Such realignments may be good for local politics. Michael Tien and his older brother James have for years been sounding more like the opposition than part of the establishment.
Certainly Michael has not been shy about criticising the government and Beijing over, for example, the latter’s role in the chief executive election.
Freed of the shackles of Ip’s party, Tien may prove to be a far more effective lawmaker.
Meanwhile, Lam needs all the help she can get.
Maybe her problems run deeper than public relations, but she does have a serious image problem. Law may be the ideal spin doctor for her.