June 01, 2005

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The Singaporification of Hong Kong

The world has three Chinese political entities: China, Taiwan and Singapore. Hong Kong, while firmly within the PRC's grasp, is rapidly moving towards Singapore's political system.

To wit: Tsang bent on one-man race, with 701 votes win says The Standard. That's 701 votes out of 800. If he secures that many nominations it locks out any other candidate. And it's starting to happen. The SCMP:

Democratic Party chairman Lee Wing-tat suffered a severe blow in his campaign for chief executive yesterday when the strong support he had been counting on from the social welfare sector failed to materialise...The 36 Election Committee members in the sector originally said they would use their votes as a block after polling social workers on their views. But now only 14 members say they will follow the result of the poll.
No prizes for guessing who's got to those electors. Also from the SCMP, a report the pro-Beijing electors are rapidly falling into line:
Donald Tsang Yam-kuen hasn't formally launched his campaign for chief executive yet, but already more than a quarter of the Election Committee - representing pro-Beijing interests - looks like nominating him for the top job...Last night the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong decided to urge its 103 electors on the 800-member committee to back Mr Tsang's candidacy.

Speaking after a meeting of the DAB's central committee, party chairman Ma Lik praised Mr Tsang for his rich experience in public administration and said he was someone who "loves China, loves Hong Kong"...As well as the DAB representatives, nearly 100 Election Committee members - representing farmers and fishermen, the Heung Yee Kuk and district councils in the New Territories - have agreed to support Mr Tsang.

The DAB can't stand The Don. They see him as a vestiage of colonial rule (witness his knighthood, which he refuses to give up), a toff who's "patriotism" (read toadying to Beijing) is questionable. But Ma Lik and his DAB have been given their orders and they are loyal foot soldiers.

How is this like Singapore? Simply because while there is the machinery of an election the result is pre-ordained. There is no real choice in the matter. The PAP have the added benefit of a decent track record to back up their cajoling and implicit consequences of voting against them. Beijing doesn't have the track record (Tung Che-hwa, anyone?) but certainly have a nice line in cajoling and threats.

However there is some good news. Whereas in Singapore defamation laws are an effective tool of controlling speech and opposition, in Hong Kong defamation actions don't always work.

But this slow motion farce of democracy is painful to watch. If Beijing are going to subvert the Basic Law, why not put us all out of our misery and simply appoint The Don. That's what they are doing by other means already.

posted by Simon on 06.01.05 at 10:22 AM in the Hong Kong democracy/politics category.


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