Mahjong, Hong Kong, CY Leung

“Now Hong Kong people are to run Hong Kong; that is the promise and that is the unshakeable destiny.”

Governor Chris Patten, farewell speech, July 1, 1997

Paulo Coutinho

Paulo Coutinho

To be rich is glorious,” didn’t Deng Xiaoping say, although he meant it.
In 1992 in his famous tour to the South to give a renewed and resolute impulse to the lagging economic reforms, as the legend goes, Deng took a firm look at fiery Macau from the other side of the border in Gongbei, amazed at the marvels of capitalism on Chinese soil: to be rich is glorious. If not Deng’s words, they turned out to be the Chinese paramount leader’s motto to squash ill-intentioned leftists re-born in the aftermath of Tiananmen, and to drive China on a path of unforeseen growth for decades to come.
Historians are still arguing about who actually spelled out those words, but, for me, the myth is no more: CY Leung said it last week, in other words, “democracy would see poorer people dominate (the Hong Kong) vote”. (And that would be catastrophic.) So: to be rich is glorious not only because of the intrinsic wealth, but because, fundamentally, the rich are entitled to political power. Because they are richer, as opposed to poorer.
Democracy therefore is a burden. The formula one-person-one-vote – if left alone to serve its ultimate purpose without any provisions to “protect” the glorious few – is dangerous to harmony. That is simple demographics, economics 101.
Something’s not right in this line of thought.
In every established democracy the big-money elites are by definition already dominant in any more-or-less liberal society. They lobby, they fund and in cases they are able to “make” winning political leaders. So, sociology 101, they’ve already got the power: access to power, influence to power.
The fundamentals of representative democracy are intended exactly to re-balance the power between the inglorious masses and the glorious few.
And something’s not politically correct in this line of thought. CY Leung dares to contradict mighty Deng, Communist Deng, who notably said in the nineties, “The minority yields to the majority!”
So, when asked the Occupy Central 101 question by a 30-something executive from Hong Kong – are you yellow, grey or blue? – I replied: As a journalist and an editor, I must say I’m grey, because in those positions I can’t get emotional and lose objectivity when my mission is laying out facts by answering the 5w+h key-questions of journalism 101. Now, if I have to state my opinion, that is a different story and my answer is as bright as the color: Yellow.
This taking-sides situation propelled by Occupy got me thinking about Macau’s answer, as a whole. I mean, what would be the city’s true color? I think, grey. Macau is a political grey – exceptions just confirm the rule. That is not necessarily bad, it shows a lot of Deng-fashion pragmatism. But this “greyism” contains its dangers.
Comes the time when a simple, prosaic, old habit like, say, playing mahjong is in the line of fire. Didn’t see that coming?
Well, it’s already happening on the mainland as we report on p10: “Beijing has told public officials not to spend too much time playing the ancient game of mahjong when they are meant to be engaging in Communist party activities such as brushing up on their ideology or reviewing party discipline.”
That is what Occupy Central is all about: the little things.

Categories Editorial