Tuesday 26 November 2019

Carrie Lam treads a fine line

Chief Executive Carrie Lam at her weekly press conference this morning
(10:00am): Just watched the Carrie Lam presser, her first since the crushing defeat of the pro-government camp in last Sunday’s District Council elections. To remind: she is our Chief Executive, like the PM or president. Or perhaps more politically correctly, our executive Mayor.
She trod a fine line, with an eye to Beijing and an eye to the people of Hong Kong.
On the government’s devastating losses last Sunday’s she said she would “reflect on shortcomings” and “listen to the people” (we’ve heard that before). And, as the chyron above shows: “pleased that pro-establishment parties said they’ll continue to serve”. Well, of course. And I thought it odd, and somehow a bit insulting, that she chose to highlight pro-government forces still being in LegCo, when the people have tossed them out of all but one local Council.
She said she views the DC election results as the Hong Kong people hoping for “peace and return to normal”. But…. but… the pan-Dems won 90% of the 450 seats, 17 out of 18 Councils and the pan-Dems are pro-protesters and it is the protesters (some of them) who are the ones carrying out the violence. So at the very least there’s a tolerance of violence.  A reading of “Hongkongers want a return to peace” is hopeful to say the least.
Towards the end she talked about setting up an international commission to look into our troubles, based on the  British one after the “Tottenham riots”. That could be spun into meeting the demand for an independent inquiry into police actions (one of the protesters’ Five Demands) and maybe she had to say it this way so’s not to upset Beijing.
Beijing, by the way, has said nothing about the results in its own media here or in China. Just repeated, via Foreign Minister Wang Yi, that Hong Kong is “always a part of China”. Yeah, we get it.
Beijing hasn’t minded news of riots in Hong Kong reaching the mainland, because … “chaos” brought on by democracy. But that the people, the plebs, should get out and have a free vote, open and fair, and give the government a bloody nose? No way, no how.
I’d give her a B today.
Trying but could try harder.
PS: the pan-Dems have an additional 117 votes on the Election Committee to elect the next Chief Executive. Together with votes they already have in the Legislative Council, thy will have about 500 votes out of the 1200 total. Quite an influential block, in other words. And the next C-E election will be interesting because of it.
ADDED: “China’s Amazon”* and China’s largest company, the e-commerce giant Alibaba, just (10:15 am) had its secondary listing in Hong Kong, worth $US11 billion, the biggest in nine years. It’s risen 7.5% already, and will likely soon be the largest company on the Hang Seng exchange. A major win for the Hong Kong stock market and for Alibaba.. Hong Kong thus remains the largest place in the world for new listings. Despite all the troubles…
Jack Ma, Alibaba’s founder, owns the South China Morning Post. 
*(Alibaba does what Amazon does, and a lot lot more besides: b-to-b, finance, robotics…).
ADDED LATER: my fave Alex Lo has his Take, but a touch too acerbic to my taste.