Anson Chan is past tense

Updated: 2013-05-03 06:10

By Lau Nai-keung(HK Edition)

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Anson Chan is past tense

After a talk last week, I was asked to comment on Anson Chan Fang On-sang and her "Hong Kong 2020" initiative. I said: "Why the fuss? She is not even an old battery, she is past tense." We should not waste our time and attention on an old lady who tries extra hard to kill her boredom.

Chan has been active in the political arena following her retirement from the civil service, doing one thing after another, and sometimes many things at the same time, all of which carry her personal trademark; nothing manages to bear fruit before she hurries off to yet another venture. One thing we have to credit Chan for is her core group of followers, many of whom are from the notorious "Handbag Party" - they dangle around her wherever she dashes. But three do not necessarily make a crowd, and clearly this lady does not have a power base. Should she come out for an open election, I am sure she will lose.

The last thing we heard of her and her core group was something called the Civil Commission of Strategic Development, which was meant to be a mirror organ of the official one. As usual nothing came of it except some short bursts of hot air magnified by some media. All of a sudden this same group has been up-cycled into Hong Kong 2020. Fancy name, same old mission: "democracy".

Anson Chan is past tense

Lacking an icon, our dissidents have long anointed Chan the "Goddess of Democracy". Unfortunately they have chosen a false goddess. According to the book The Last Governor, written by British broadcaster and journalist Jonathan Dimbleby, Chan's boss, Chris Patten, was deeply disturbed by her authoritarian tendency. As late as 1995 this same "democratic siren" assembled a bunch of officials to march to the Governor's House to demand a stop to lawmakers' private bills to maintain executive authority.

Chan's debut into the public limelight came in 1986 when, as director of Social Welfare, she was severely criticized by media for the inhumane handling of a child custody case, popularly known as the Daughter of Kwok-A Incident. Subsequent investigation by unofficial members of the Executive Council found that Chan had "acted within the law" in respect of her extreme powers, but recommended changes to the law and to the Social Welfare Department's procedures to prevent a re-occurrence of similar cases. She later admitted that the media pressure had made her "very upset", but she never showed any remorse for her decision. Instead, our dissident media christened her the "Iron Lady".

Chan was not clean either. It has been revealed in the press that during her tenure as one of Hong Kong's top civil servants, she bought her flat with zero down payments. Professor Johannes Chan of the University of Hong Kong and one of her core group members tried to exonerate her with the excuse that her purchase happened more than two decades ago. If you compare this with the ongoing case related to Mak Chai-kwong, clearly our dissident media, and for that matter our legal system, exercise double-standards. Whether Chan can be incriminated is one thing, but at least many Hong Kong citizens are fully aware what kind of person she is.

When this greedy authoritarian repeatedly paraded in front of us as the "Goddess of Democracy", many of us just wanted to vomit. As we can see, this persona is already the best our dissidents can muster and from this we can deduce the rest: they are a bunch of crooks and snake-oil salesmen!

And they are up to no good. The dissidents made no secret about it and publicly declared that Hong Kong 2020 is, together with "Occupy Central" and the Alliance for True Democracy, part of a coordinated effort to precipitate a showdown with the central government on the issue of constitutional development. In a nutshell, our dissidents want to throw away the framework as prescribed by the Basic Law to be replaced by another scheme tailor-made to ensure they seize total power in the HKSAR.

Dissidents and their backers, with piles of money and years of preparation, surely could have produced someone more presentable to lead a more formidable challenge. With old Anson heading one of the lineups, it's pure anticlimax.

The author is a member of the Commission on Strategic Development.

(HK Edition 05/03/2013 page1)