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Row over Hong Kong justice chief’s illegal structures at her home shows city’s knack for self-destruction

Michael Chugani says the calls for Teresa Cheng to step down – on top of the squabbles over many other issues, including the joint immigration checkpoint plans at West Kowloon – are typical of the attitude of those Hongkongers determined to oppose Beijing in all matters

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 10 January, 2018, 12:35pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 January, 2018, 7:10pm

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has a nuclear button. US President Donald Trump says he has a bigger one. We in Hong Kong have a self-destruct button. Kim and Trump haven’t used theirs yet but we use ours regularly. We press it first thing in the morning to blow ourselves up.

When I wake up every morning, I put on the news. I see and hear people talk about co-location, political persecution, politicised judges, police fury over the jailing of comrades, Beijing’s heavy hand, and lately even illegal structures – a long-buried phrase that has returned to haunt us. It’s always the same people repeating the same points, which pass for news.

My advice to the bureaucrats who coined the word “co-location” is, never own up. It’s a nonsense word that doesn’t even remotely describe joint border control at the express rail terminus.

If we must settle for inaccuracies, I would much prefer cohabitation, with Beijing as the dominant partner. It more accurately reflects the view of many that we got screwed.

We pressed the self-destruct button again last week after revelations that the new justice secretary Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah’s upscale house has illegal structures. OK, she most likely knew the house had been expanded when she bought it, to even include an illegal basement larger than most Hong Kong flats. Keeping mum while being vetted for justice secretary reveals a lack of political savvy. But is the error of judgment so grave that we must precipitate another political crisis by demanding she resigns?

Teresa Cheng must clear the air over illegal structures at her home

Why not amuse ourselves instead with the intriguing spin-off from the illegal expansion exposé? It now turns out Cheng’s next-door neighbour is actually her husband. A couple cohabitating in adjoining homes linked by a passageway while keeping their marriage a secret. Surely, that’s a juicier tale to dig into than the illegal structures in both homes.

An even more mystifying tale is the wardrobe of ousted legislators Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus “Baggio” Leung Chung-hang. Either I am seeing things or everyone else is blind. Whenever I see the Youngspiration pair on TV, they are immaculately dressed in the latest fashion. Aren’t they supposed to be broke?

Our Beijing masters must be wondering why we can’t be tamed like Macau

They owe the Legislative Council big bucks – pay they received which Legco now wants back after the courts disqualified them as legislators. They say they can’t afford to repay, so how come they can afford an extensive wardrobe? I’ll leave it to our reporter sleuths to investigate.

Will Cheng survive as justice chief? That depends on how itchy our fingers are when we reach for the self-destruct button. Our Beijing masters must be wondering why we can’t be tamed like Macau. Could it be the British were more cunning colonisers than the Portuguese? Did they leave behind a self-destruct button in a Trojan horse inside the heads of the many Hongkongers who can’t seem to accept our communist masters?

Our first post-colonial chief executive was forced out. Our second was jailed. Our third was so loathed he couldn’t seek a second term. And now we have Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, who expected the political honeymoon her predecessors never got but is instead getting her teeth knocked out. Some are already saying she is the second coming of CY Leung.

Carrie Lam says ‘being accountable’ to Beijing doesn’t equate to unquestioning obedience

We’ll for sure press the self-destruct button when the establishment camp uses its majority vote to legalise the joint immigration arrangement. You can bet on some trigger-happy Lam-basher filing a judicial review. That will ensure a clash in our courts between Hong Kong’s common law and the mainland’s civil law.

Hong Kong must accept it is part of ‘red China’ and led by Communist Party, liaison office legal head says

Why can’t we just let Hongkongers decide instead? If enough use the express railway, it proves they’re unafraid of mainland law at West Kowloon. If not enough use it, then it’s a white elephant. If mainland officials arrest local dissidents at the terminus, it’s red China in Hong Kong. Someone will then for sure shout “white terror”. Mix that with red and we get pink. At least that will please the LGBT community.

Michael Chugani is a Hong Kong journalist and TV show host