Thursday, July 09, 2009

The Beauty and the Beasts

By Chip Tsao | published Jul 09, 2009

To the abhorrence of Beijing, there were a few Union Jacks unabashedly on display at the pro-democracy rally on July 1. Such a sight of unbecoming treachery—never so prominently displayed in the 12 years since the handover—is so shockingly offensive that it would cause any red-blooded patriotic zealot to let loose a shriek like a little girl startled by a perverted exhibitionist in a dark alley. It’s like seeing a picture of a smiling George Bush looming above the masses in a Tehran rally called by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Politically incorrect as it may be, one can hardly classify such nostalgia for the good old days as unjustifiable. During the colonial years, the Executive Council was comprised of loyal, professional and well-disciplined pols hand-picked by the governors. They gathered quietly for decision-making and dispersed with their mouths fully sealed.

We have a similar body today with the same name, stolen from our former British masters. But this Council is supposedly under the heroic leadership of our Beijing-picked Chief Executive, and has always came across like a Chinatown market with too many loose cannons hawking their “individual opinions” in front of TV cameras and reporters. Since most of their appointments were apparently recommended by China, they have been emboldened to signal views sometimes in conflict with the Chief Executive, who has never seemed to enjoy the luxuries of an emperor, since he lacks the authoritative power to order his court of eunuchs to keep quiet or lose their heads. The confused and bemused public can simply sit back and enjoy some not-so-harmonious but entertaining circus shows with the lion bursting from the cage from time to time when the trainer has misplaced his whip.

The shadow Chief Executive, C.Y. Leung, who is also the “convener” of the Executive Council, is prematurely gallopping around in a bid for the job when Sir Donald is due to step down in 2012. He has called for a minimum wage, against the wishes of the SAR government. Leung is said to need much time to whitewash his hitherto hard-line pro-Beijing, anti-democratic (and hence unpopular) public image. This would certainly make other potential candidates nervous, such as Chief Secretary Henry Tang and Financial Secretary John Tsang, who are both rumored to have a keen eye on the top job and are both eagerly awaiting the green light from Beijing. But of course, to get the approving nod of the master, you have to do a few kung fu stunts. Leung has just completed his Jackie Chan double-flip jump by calling for “full integration” between Hong Kong and Guangdong. To outperform Leung, Tang and the other Tsang would have to propose a tunnel be built to link up Hong Kong, Macau and Hainan Island.

So the Union Jack was unleashed together with a few beasts. In the eye of the public beholder, the former definitely looks more attractive than the latter, though not even a picture of the display was printed in any British newspaper.

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