New party is no party, not new, not with-it

Sunday 6 February 2011, 5.51am HKT


It’s the same old story: if the one you’ve got doesn’t work anymore, respawn into another with the same characteristics.

So we’ve got a new political party here in Hong Kong.

The New People’s Party (新民黨) was spawned from the pretentiously named thinktank Savantas Policy Institute. Legislator Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee (葉劉淑儀, born 1950) heads both the NPP and Savantas. She was the career civil servant and ex-Secretary for Security who resigned in 2003 over the Article 23 anti-sedition debâcle.

The NPP’s platform or manifesto boils down to just three points:

  • pledging to build a ‘quality’ democratic system in Hong Kong
  • to promote economic restructuring
  • to work to narrow the wealth gap

Even the politically ignorant uninformed will have noticed all other political parties (possibly anywhere in the world) have the same targets.

The NPP’s constituency window is:

  • the middle class (rather than ‘grassroots’)
  • the civil service (wouldn’t you have guessed that already)

Those who have even a smattering of sociological knowledge knows these two groups of society are most supportive of The Establishment (whether right-, centre- or left-wing). The middle class is most resistant to change. The civil service is, well, dead slow children.

Don’t take my word for it. Read up in your sociology textbooks. Alternatively, wake up and look around. Whichever works best for you.

Interesting guest list to the party’s inauguration ‘do’ on 9th January 2011:

  • NPP Vice Chairman Michael Tien Puk-sun (田北辰) (ex-Liberal Party)
  • NPP Vice Chairman Dr Louis Shih Tai-cho (史泰祖) (dermatologist)
  • NPP adviser Bernard Chan a.k.a. Charnwut Sophonpanich (陳智思) (former member of the Executive Council)
  • NPP adviser Allan Zeman (chairman of Ocean Park and “Father of Lan Kwai Fong”)
  • NPP adviser and ex-Chief Secretary Sir David Akers-Jones
  • Secretary for Security Ambrose Lee Siu-kwong (李少光)
  • Secretary for the Environment Edward Yau Tang-wah (邱騰華)
  • Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung (張建宗)
  • Former Chief Secretary Anson Chan Fong On-san (陳方安生) (and Mrs Ip’s rival in the 2007 Legislative Council by-elections)

Since the NPP’s origin is in the Savantas Policy Institute, it can be quite edumacational have a look-see at Savantas’ self-description:

“Savantas was founded by a group of Hong Kong belongers with overseas experience who care deeply about Hong Kong. As those who have lived abroad will know, Hong Kong people residing overseas derive the greatest pleasure banding together eating Hong Kong-style food and debating Hong Kong current affairs. Our group was born out of a passion to contribute what we have learned from our valuable experience of studying or working in one of the world’s most dynamic, innovative and technologically oriented growth areas in the U.S. to making Hong Kong a better place to live.” (Limited version profile on LinkedIn)

How brain damaged can you be to even pay attention to a political party whose origins is described like that?

Err, no, as most who have lived abroad will know, most Hongkongers don’t derive anything of the such.

Err, no, even homey Hongkongers don’t “debate” about Hong Kong current affairs because most Hongkongers are actually too apathetic and unknowledgeable about current affairs because Hongkongers mostly tend not to read or watch any news anyway.

Err, no, the American connection that you’ve made is irrelevant to Hong Kong. You just branded yourself an irrelephant.

(For the avoidance of doubt, The Naked Listener personally voted in two General Elections in the UK, plus all the piffling and miserable elections in Hong Kong, plus a few other elections in other countries. It is fair to shamelessly boast that what The Naked Listener has forgotten about politics is on balance of probability more than these people at Savantas/NPP could ever know in their lives.)

The NPP is described in the press as centre-right and pro-Beijing — which is another way of saying you couldn’t tell your right hand from your left. It just doesn’t inspire much confidence, does it?

Plus, you’d worry about a public-policy thinktank (ergo, the political party) that isn’t quite forthcoming about the ages of its board members [via Webb-site.com].

* * *

Here’s what The Naked Listener has heard or read (or overheard or over-read, as the case may be), plus offhand personal divinations. It isn’t much admittedly, but it’ll do for now.

“What happened to the old one?”

It’s an interesting name, isn’t it? What’s new? New people? New party? New what? If you can’t get your own name right, heaven knows what else you couldn’t get right.

“The whole ironic naming of political parties by the pro-Beijing groups is entertaining, carrying on the sterling ironic naming tradition of countries like the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea.”

See what I mean? You would’ve thought that, what with all the high-powered ex-officials and advisers the NPP has, it could have come up with a better name than that.

“Can you join the New People’s Party if you’re an old person?”

Oh, yes, we’ve been waiting for this one.

“Does this have anything to do with the posse of 30 ex-Democrats?”

‘Democrats’ is just a name here, more so than any other place. They (the Dems) and Mrs Ip are The Establishment, whichever way you look at them. There’s no grassroots — never been any. These people are just using a new approach to pull the wool over our eyes. You really have to have lived in a much more politicised place (e.g. abroad) to suss out their game.

“At least two other Asian movements have had this name, and it would be interesting to know whether our former Security Secretary borrowed it from one of them, and, if so, which.” (Big Lychee)

All this isn’t even near laughable when you consider how much power or influence these people actually have as part of The Establishment.

What we actually want is another kind of party:

Community 'Party(ing)'

Not gettin’ it? Try this:

The kind of party we're all looking for!

Images (all pilfered and used without permission):

© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2011.

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