Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Shake a Tail Feather
Note: The following will be overly familiar to local readers (all 2.3 of you)but probably not to the other 1.7 who check in from outside Hong Kong. Today my assignment was to cover "the color" of HK Chief Executive Donald Tsang's annual policy address.

Tsang, except for his spiffy bowties, can safely be described as colorless. Bringing color to a corpse would be easier. He's a rather vapid, vacant sounding professional bureaucrat who increasingly spends his time ducking real issues and sucking up to his Beijing puppet masters and who liberally sprinkled his speech with variations on the phrase "harmonious society" (not so coincidentally methinks, also the current buzz phrase of Chinese President Hu Jintao).

One the other hand, thank gawd Hong Kong has its one firebrand troublemaker -- a long haired, chain smoking, beer guzzling self-proclaimed "pure Marxist" named Leung Kwok-hung. He's the naughty school boy in the HK Legislative mix and did his best today to flame Tsang's otherwise empty blather. This is what I filed, though no guarantee that it's the same version that will hit print tomorrow after it's run through the editorial dull machine.

It looked like the set-up for a joke that begins, ``A guy walks into a bar carrying a duck ...''

So when radical legislator Leung ``Long hair'' Kwok-hung, accompanied by independent colleague Albert Chan Wai-yip, strode to his Legco seat carrying a balloon, a sheaf of leaflets and a white bamboo duck adorned with a red bow tie, you could see a punch line or two coming.

A chief executive and a famous duck both named Donald? A lame duck politician?

Even Legco President and disciplinarian Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, sitting aloft in her leather-upholstered throne, appeared to crack a brief bemused smile.

As for the butt of the joke, Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen _ in a sky blue bow tie, presumably a sartorial nod to his ``Action Blue Sky'' anti-pollution campaign _ well, he studiously ignored the sight as he readied himself to deliver his solemn ``Proactive, Pragmatic, Always People First'' policy address.

That's when Leung and Chan pulled the proverbial plug. Alternately brandishing the duck, they shouted at Tsang for failing to advance democracy in Hong Kong and called for minimum wage laws.

While Tsang continued to stare straight ahead and legislators, long accustomed to Leung's irreverant antics, either looked on in amusement or barely disguised distain, Fan whipped into action telling Leung to behave or leave.

Leung, in a red and black Che Guevera T-shirt, shouted back that Tsang was ``heartless like a bamboo duck; a man with no heart for Hong Kong people'' before he finally wound down, collected his papers, balloon and duck and voluntarily vacated the chamber alongside Chan.

About 30 minutes and a laundry list of policy platitudes and cliches later, Legco was again enlivened when six undercover minimum wage supporters in the public gallery jumped up shouting slogans and unfurling banners.

Tsang -- who had barely eased into his plan for a voluntary minimum wage for only the cleaning and gardening sectors, denying the hecklers' repeated demands for legislation to force all employers to pay above a set limit -- appeared startled before resuming his ``I see nothing'' pose.

Security guards hustled to remove the protestors, who went peacefully but not quietly, as Fan quickly adjourned Legco for 10 minutes and gave Tsang time to regroup and collect his thoughts.

In contrast, prior to Tsang's speech and at Legco's rear, nine groups of about 100 protestors vied simultaneously behind cramped rail barricades for a variety of issues ranging from equal rights for ethnic minorities to judicial grievances and the minimum wage.

``Keep your promises! No more delays!'' chanted the minority rights group, trying to be heard above the din from the minimum wage supporters who were yelling and shaking ``Donald duck,'' readying him for his Legco chamber debut.
You could have a much worse job - imagine trying to be the apologist for George W. Bush!

Be happy that you are in HK were the politics are at least easier to understand. Wait until the are more sophisticated and it takes a detective to find the true meaning of their words. Better empty platitudes then Cowboy" politics of shhot first and ask questions later.
Your lede was much better than the bullshit they printed this morning.

who edits that thing????
I can't imagine two more polor oppositiely stereotyped political caricatures. Oh, the innocence of 'burgeoning democracies'. You can't tell the difference between our two Sides. ...Except that a lot of the guys on the right are nothing but a bunch of no-good closeted homos.

Enjoyed your take on Tsang. It is being an humorous season here stateside as election time oozes up on us. The histrionics and theatrics of the season are upon us, mud flying from both camps.

And, (speaking of vapid and colorless) in case you didn't get the memo, AlGore declared today the cigarette smoking is a "significant contributor to global warming"... and showed a computer simulation of ocean water inundating, among other places, China!! So, if you haven't stopped smoking, at least move inland a little.

But, better yet...stop smoking. I'm not ready to quit hearing from you.

Tsang is worse than Bush...

And given how much I despise Dumbya, that says a lot about how I feel.
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