Searching for Mr Right

Big Lychee, Various Sectors

The South China Morning Post asks why Hong Kong’s soon-to-be Chief Executive Carrie Lam is apparently finding it so hard to assemble a ruling team that is even vaguely fresh. The paper quotes various lawmakers and academics about the local political structure, the supposed need for a stronger party system, and possible ways to nurture future politicians.

Pro-Beijing think-tank-person Lau Siu-kai says that Carrie could attract better people if her administration starts to ‘get things done’ (for which it of course needs… better people). Horace Cheung of the Communist-front DAB essentially admits that members of his party are too dim for such jobs (‘our task is to groom talent to win seats on councils’). Deep down into the report, City U expert Ray Yip Kin-man gets a word in about loyalty to Beijing.

That is, of course, the sole criterion. There is no shortage of smart, imaginative, energetic, even charismatic, potential leaders in Hong Kong. But the Chinese Communist Party is paranoid and trusts no-one here (they don’t even trust each other).

Once they have filtered out anyone with scary original ideas, critical-thinking skills, sinister foreign connections, wrong ethnicity, a spine, principles, insufficient shoe-shining and kowtowing inclinations, a reluctance to talk complete crap when ordered to, and too many (or too few) murky family ties, skeletons-in-closets and other aids-to-co-option – there’s hardly anyone left except bland, pen-pushing, unquestioning nonentities ‘with extensive administrative experience’.

The SCMP features an eye-catching illustration of Carrie, wistfully staring out of a rain-streaked window, wondering how, in this city of 7 million resourceful people, she can feel so alone and forlorn. Where have we seen this style of artwork before?