Tag Archives: universal suffrage

You dirty Ho! HK lawmaker gives democracy a kick in the teeth

7 Mar

Those of you (both of you?) that regularly read this blog may detect a certain implicit distrust of the establishment and tendency to side with the underdog in many of my posts.

albert hoWell, in the interests of balance, I’ve decided to focus this week’s rant on former Democratic Party chairman Albert Ho, who decided to do something rather silly during last Wednesday’s budget speech.

Having resigned his chairmanship of one of the SAR’s numerous “pan-democrat” (ie anti-Beijing/establishment) parties following poor performance in the 2012 elections, Ho is now the secretary general of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China.

More importantly, he’s the rather portly and well-tanned member of Legco who helped Edward Snowden escape to victory, or er, to Moscow, during the time the sysadmin was holed up here following his high profile dash from the evil US empire (ie Hawaii, where he lived in relative affluence with his pole dancing girlfriend).

62-year-old Ho, who’s an outspoken pro-democracy and universal suffrage advocate, was photographed in the chamber last week browsing through pictures of bikini-clad hotties on his tablet. All of this as finance minister John Tsang gave arguably one of the most important policy speeches of the year.

Now I’m all for lawmakers browsing the interwebs to buy gifts for their loved ones and I’m sure that all Ho was doing was looking for a nice swimsuit for his niece, or daughter, or … wife’s birthday? Or perhaps his secretary’s.

Anyway, you’ve got to play the game Albert. You can’t be on your iPad when you should be taking notes on an, albeit dreadfully dull 90 minute-long, important budget speech.

It’s what you were elected to do matey. Fannying around, almost literally, when you should be at work is the preserve not of elected politicians but those employed by social media and digital marketing companies.

Your campaigning for greater democratic accountability among Hong Kong’s leaders, including support for the Occupy Central civil disobedience movement which is pushing for true universal suffrage, has been rather undermined by the fact you couldn’t wait 90 minutes to look at some fanny.

What Ho should have been doing was taking apart Tsang and his “fiscal advisors” dire warnings that Hong Kong could face a structural deficit of HK$1.54 trillion (£115bn) by 2041, miring the place in Greek-style levels of debt.

Now Hong Kong is, I believe, the only country/state/call-it-what-you-will which actually runs a budget surplus. Yup a surplus. Every year it gravely predicts a deficit – the last fiscal year a HK$3.5bn one (£269m) – but each year lo and behold a surplus appears. This past fiscal year it was a whopping HK$64.9bn (£500m).

The reason? It makes the US seem positively generous with welfare and social spending. Yes the SAR is starting to increase spending on the poor and ageing but it’s still a pittance.

For years the government has relied on good old Confucianism to ensure families look after their elderly members and it still allows a fifth of its population, over one million people, to struggle below the poverty line – with tens of thousands ‘living’ in cage homes little bigger than a coffin.

So should we believe the dire financial warnings from the government? Nope, I smell vested interests trying to scare the populous and justify continually, shockingly, low welfare spending.

I’d love to think the pan-democrats could effect some serious change in this regard, so come on guys, do it for the Noodle. It’s my way or the Ho-way.

Hold on to your donkeys, the Chinese are coming

6 Jan

donkey kong logoSo that was 2013. In China a year of mindless xenophobia, deadly pollution and freedom crushing authoritarianism masquerading as modern nation state-ism. So no change there then. Oh, and the Middle Kingdom also managed to take food scandals to a whole new level. We had gutter waste sold as cooking oil, infected baby formula, over 16,000 dead pigs floating down Shanghai’s Huangpu river and most recently dirty pond water injected into lamb meat. Mmmmm.

So it’s goodbye to the Year of the Snake and hello to the Year of the Horse, or more appropriately the Year of the Donkey. Yup, China has kicked off 2014 as it left off … literally daring anyone to live there. This time Walmart has been recalling donkey meat from its Jinan stores because of contamination issues.

Now Walmart as I know it is the US giant that now owns UK supermarket chain Asda. The most my local Asda on the Old Kent Road would ever do to satisfy customer demand was a small Caribbean section and possibly some Polish sausages. Not so its Chinese outposts, which have obviously bent over backwards to meet that insatiable lust for donkey meat down in deepest Shandong province. That’s not all, of course. It has emerged that the donkey meat has been found to contain traces of fox DNA.

Fox disguised as donkey? It makes me ashamed to be British sometimes. The best we can do is horse masquerading as cow.

When the infant formula scandal broke in 2013 there was a sudden run on in Hong Kong for milk powder, which soon led to bare shelves and export restrictions as “locust” mainlanders gave the locals another reason to despise them. So what of 2014? If you’re a Hong Kong zookeeper or private donkey owner I’d start by building a higher fence. Then keep the TV on because in a few days I fully expect to see an alarmist public service broadcast outlining how best to protect your donkey.

At the very least, spaffing a few grand on an utterly pointless and unbelievably patronising TV ad will help our glorious leaders avoid facing the thorny topic of universal suffrage for a few more weeks.