Western Media Does Hong Kong CE Selection Wrong
in Hong Kong
What is it about this CE Selection that has Western media writing such crap about Hong Kong? This time I'm referring to an article in Time Magazine on Hong Kong's Non-election. At least they got the headline correct
The article does come complete with the now all-too-frequent "critics call it" aside. In this case, it's a reference to the election being a small-circle affair. After spending a paragraph noting the election is limited to a small circle of 1200 people, mostly chosen for their obedience to Communist Party dictates, why bother with the "critics call it" aside?
The story also fails to mention Albert Ho, Chairman of the Democratic Party, except as an aside in the last paragraph. "(the third is a democracy activist)" I don't really think of Ho as an activist. In this case he's more like the willing crash-test dummy, who survived a much worse beat down years ago, that gets to be the comic relief egging on the two CCP-approved candidates to continue providing HK with endless laughs.
And HK has to take the laughs it can get with this government, though you wouldn't know it from reading this article.
Other hot-button issues include pollution, and more and better schools and hospitals, areas where the government has shown little leadership even though it has plenty of money to throw at the problems.
The HK SAR government has spent almost every minute since the handover displaying leadership on schools, hospitals and pollution. It's fired loads of teachers and actively closed schools instead of pushing smaller class sizes. It's adjusted "school nets" to decrease the competition against their children getting the prized seats at the best secondary schools. They've been pushing privatising health care and granting cheap land for private hospitals, while fighting tooth-and-nail against funding local doctors and nurses at public hospitals. And it has spent more effort going after Lonely Planet for publishing a guide book with a grey skyline cover photo and pushing a garbage landfill in to HK's equivalent of a National Park, than it has on pushing forward new air pollution indices.
The biggest problem though with Western reporting on the CE selection this year has been the wrap-up of Henry Tang's problems. Invariably the Western media, and this Time article, write out a laundry list of the scandals plaguing Tang. The scandals themselves are really an afterthought for most HKers at this point. Even before the scandals hit mass publication and semi-confirmation, people thought of Henry Tang as the affable inherited wealth with a wine glass. Tang is the nice official you invite for a ribbon-cutting, but you bring dull scissors and a pre-cut ribbon to ensure the event goes as planned.
This was amplified by Tang's handling of the basement scandal. It was spectacularly bad crisis management. There was already disdain for the government's hypocrisy over illegal structure demolition due to several ministers' properties having illegal works and Henry Tang had pledged his properties were all legal. So when the information about Tang's basement came to light, he first denied that it existed and if it did exist, it was just a small storage space. He used his domestic servants to block access to government inspectors, until the media forced the issue. When the size of the basement became apparent, he said it was his wife's property and therefore she was to blame. Also there was no connection between that property next door and where he stayed and that because he was busy with his marital affairs, he was oblivious to his wife's wrong-doing. The local TV crews filmed Tang's dog walking freely between the two properties, so not even the most plausible of his excuses stood up to a few seconds of scrutiny. But placing the blame entirely on his wife would be like Bill Clinton doing his infamous 60 Minutes interview with Hillary and blaming her for Ken Starr and not properly cleaning that blue dress.
Leung's handling of the triad issue was poorly handled as well. I think if Leung's supporters had been more forthcoming about their part in that dinner, people might have stayed focused on the key issue, which is what dirt do the triads have on Henry Tang's business dealings. Of course the pro-HenryT press would try to deflect attention away from this issue and try to point fingers at Leung for "black-hand politics" and against the triads being able to influence the selection of the CE. There is a sacred cow media narrative, which dates back more than 60 years, about Hong Kong's economy being free and vibrant. Dirty laundry that exposes the institutional corruption that this narrative is designed to conceal is a violation of the Prime Directive.
And when I say institutionalised corruption, I'm talking about Henry Tang and his wife being in front of the TV cameras and press microphone while simultaneously eluding the government inspectors investigating whether Tang broke the law with his illegal structure.
UPDATE: Day of the CE non-election 25 March 2012 9 am:
I've gotten quite bad about posting completed long-form blog posts. I have a lot of half-written posts waiting for neater endings or for me to fill in names of books or hunt down urls of articles I've read. Of course the twitter stream has been in full throat the last few days as the Liaison Office cranks up its insular authoritarian intereference on behalf of CY, including bullying a paper run by Richard Li Tzar-kai of PCCW and Li Ka-shing's son and the spiking of a regular Friday column by the Liberal Party's Miriam Lau that tried to advocate for casting blank ballots, which runs counter to the Party Line that patriots must vote for their candidate.